Monday, November 21, 2011

Question about a muscadine vine growing in the woods.

I recently discovered a muscadine vine at the edge of the woods around my yard. The vine is growing as high as 15 feet into the trees. I can't see much fruit, maybe 3 or 4 grapes so far. Should I try to cut it back this fall or in the spring? If so, how much should I prune from it? There's also a lot of vines in the back of my house in the trees as high as 20 or 30 ft .I don't see any grapes on them. Are they needed for the others to produce? Thank you so much for any information you can give me.

Some muscadines are perfect-flowered, meaning that they have both male and female flower parts. Therefore they pollinate themselves and produce fruit. Other muscadines are pistillate, meaning that they only have female flower parts. They require the pollen from a perfect-flowered variety to produce fruit.

If a vine has only a few fruits, it could be that it is pistillate and a pollinator is not near enough to share much pollen. Or it could mean that the vine is perfect-flowered, but growing in too much shade. Vines growing in shade don't produce as much fruit or flowers.

If a vine bears no fruit, it is probably pistillate and needs a pollinator.

I doubt that pruning would help much because the vine should be grown on a trellis. In addition, it probably isn't getting much sun since it is growing at the edge of the woods.

If you like the characteristics of the fruit, I recommend that you attempt to reproduce the vine through layering. (I intend to explain that technique in another post.) Later you can plant the young ones further out in the yard on a trellis where they can get some sun.

Unless you wish to clear the woods, I'd leave alone the ones growing in the trees. You may discover later that they will begin to produce fruit. Even if they don't produce fruit, I like the ones growing in the woods because the yellow foliage looks like golden garlands draped in the trees during fall.

John J Marshall
John also blogs at

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