Best known for its delicious fruit, fox grape is a hardy, deciduous, woody vine native to eastern North America. It is primarily grown for its edible grapes but also has attractive lobed leaves of rich green that turn burnished shades of orange and gold in fall. In early to midsummer it produces inconspicuous fragrant flowers followed by clusters of grapes that ripen in mid-autumn. These may be red, green or dark purple to black and are suitable for eating, juicing, jellies, and wine. There are many fox grape cultivars to include the ever popular purple-fruited ‘Concord’.
Vigorous and tough, fox grape requires less summer heat than European grape varieties and can tolerate much colder temperatures. It needs full sun for best fruiting and prefers fertile soil that is amply drained. This vine grows fast enough to cover an arch, arbor or walkway in one season. Plants must be pruned each year to maximize fruit production.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Perennial – Fruit
Select a site with deep, well-drained, loose soil in full sun. Set up a trellis system before planting.
Plant grapes in the spring. Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines). For each vine, dig a planting hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill with 4 inches of topsoil. Trim off broken roots and set the vine into the hole slightly deeper than it grew in the nursery. Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down. Fill with the remaining soil, but don’t tamp this down.
Prune the top back to two or three buds at planting time. Prune annually when the vines are dormant according to the training system you select. Do not fertilize unless the soil is very poor or the plants show poor foliage color or signs of nutrient deficiencies. Cultivate shallowly around the base of plants to control weeds. Drape netting over vines to prevent birds from destroying your harvest.
Vines bear fruit the second or third year after planting. American and table grapes are ready when they reach full cultivar size and color, in about 150-165 days. Leave raisin grapes on the vines to ripen completely before picking. The best time to pick wine grapes depends on the type of wine to be made.
Hyssop is beneficial to grapes as are basil, beans, geraniums, oregano, clover, peas, or blackberries. Planting clover increases the soil fertility for grapes. Chives with grapes help repel aphids. Plant your vines under Elm or Mulberry trees.