Issue: September 17, 2005

Grape dormant, hardwood cuttings


You recently wrote about propagating grapes with cuttings, but the description you gave is different from a method I read in a book. They talked about dormant, hardwood cuttings. Which is better? I would like to grow some new grape plants from vines I have in my yard.


The preferred method may be determined by the time of year and the method that works best for you. I told of using semi-hardwood cuttings (those with leaves, but whose stems have hardened somewhat). It works well for me and is a way to use the stems that are cut when the vines are cut back in early-to-mid summer. Many people use dormant, hardwood cuttings that are collected when the vines are pruned in the late winter/early spring. I have also had success with cuttings taken at that time.

Now that the growing season is nearing its end, the use of dormant, hardwood cuttings will be more appropriate. To propagate with hardwood cuttings, remove the cuttings during the dormant season before growth begins in the spring. If the cuttings are collected in the late winter/early spring, they may be treated with rooting hormone and the basal ends of the cuttings can be immediately placed into prepared soil or potting soil. If the soil is kept moist, new roots should form. It is possible that the shoots will sprout before the roots form and, if not protected from our dry winds, the cuttings will desiccate and die. I have also succeeded by placing the spring-collected hardwood cuttings into a bucket of water where the cuttings formed roots. These cuttings may be planted in soil (in the garden or in pots) after the roots have formed. You may choose to start the new plants in a nursery garden (protected from drying winds) or in pots to develop a good root system before moving them to the garden.

It is also possible to collect the cuttings in the autumn after the leaves fall. (Don't prune the grapes excessively at this time.) The base of these dormant, hardwood cuttings may be treated with rooting hormones, and the cuttings should be wrapped in moist sphagnum moss and plastic. These prepared cuttings must then be stored for a couple of months under refrigeration (cool, not frozen) to prepare the cuttings to begin growth in the spring. After a few months of cool storage, the cuttings may be put into pots of potting soil and induced to grow in a greenhouse or warm sunny window. Once the danger of frost has past, the new grape vines may be planted outside in the garden.

An important fact to remember There is a "top" and "bottom" to each cutting. It is the "bottom" (basal or proximal) portion that will produce roots. Put the basal portion into the soil.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

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