When growing muscadines, vines should have some sort of support, but it's not necessary to build an elaborate structure. A fence or simple trellis system (shown further below) will do. Support is optional the first summer, but essential after that.
When to Prune Muscadine Vines
Prune any time after the plant has entered dormancy. I usually wait until late winter, before buds along the vines begin to swell, and when I'm pruning many other plants in the landscape and gardens.
How To Prune Muscadine Vines
First Growing Season: If your new vine has several shoots (trunks) cut off all but one and train this to form a single trunk, securing it with a wooden or bamboo stake. Remove all lateral branches growing from the trunk. When the vine grows beyond the top of your fence or wire cut it off at 3" above wire. Several canes (branches) will grow just beneath the cut. Allow 2 of these canes to follow the wire or top of the fence in either direction. Let grow naturally and leave vine as is during first winter.
Second Winter: Cut back the two canes (branches) growing right and left along the top of the fence or wire to a point where there are 2 or 3 buds left on the cane, as shown in the diagram below.
Therafter: Prune the plants each winter so that all new growth is reduced to two or three new buds. This will keep the vine in check and force better fruit production.
Building A Simple Trellis For Muscadines
Muscadine vines are easy to grow. You can plant them to grow along the top of an existing fence or arbor or build a simple trellis system that allows for easy pruning.
The trellis system is quite simple:
- Attach a single No.9 wire 5 feet above the ground attached to the top of two pressure treated support posts spaced 20' apart. The posts should be no less than 4" in diameter. In loose, sandy soil. fill hole around post with mortar mix. In clay soil backfill hole and tamp soil well. Make sure wire is attached securely to post and is drawn as tight as is possible. I usually wrap the wire around the top of the post two or three times and then fasten it to the post with a u-nail or staple.
- After setting your posts and attaching the wire, plant the vine in the center of the posts, using a bamboo or wooden stake to support the vine. To avoid scarring the vine, tie vine to stake using soft plant ties or tie tape purchased from your local nursery and garden center.
Other Muscadine Pruning Tips
- After four or five years, remove some of the fruiting branches to force new wood.
- Use sheers to remove fruit clusters to avoid scarring the vine or peeling bark back.
- Prune heavily at the top of the trunk to prevent excessive growth there.
- Keep area around the base of the trunk weed free with a 2-inch layer of pine bark mulch.