Juice ’em, jam ’em, or eat ’em whole, grapes are as versatile as they are delicious. Seedless grapes are generally classified as table grapes (for eating), raisin grapes, and wine grapes, with some varieties fitting into all three categories. Note that seedless grape varieties do in fact possess seeds; however, the hard outer seed shell never forms, which means they can be easily consumed. Grape vines are perennial and can reach heights of up to 30′, preferring a trellis for climbing. For best productivity, they require regular care, including annual pruning and consistent watering in their first year. Must be grown from young plants or cuttings.
Thompson seedless grapes are a European grape variety also known as Sultana or Sultania. This white grape will grow best in Mediterranean climates and can be used as a table grape, to make raisins, or to make white wine. Due to this versatility, Thompson seedless grapes are the most planted variety of grape in California.
Seed: Not grown from seed.
Vegetative: Soak roots in water for 2 to 3 hours prior to planting vines. Commonly propagated by taking stem cuttings, grafting, or layering.
Space Between Plants: 8′
Space Between Rows: 10–12′
Soil Temperature: 60–70°F
Plant Indoors: Not recommended.
Plant Outdoors: Transplant bare-root, dormant grape vines early in the spring.
Grows well in most climates but does best in milder climates. In regions with mild winters, grapes may be planted any time from late autumn to early spring when they are dormant.
Natural: Full sun. Partial shade during extreme hot spells.
Artificial: Although growing most grape varieties indoors is not recommended, LED lamps may be used to help young plants grow.
Soil: Will grow in any soil type but prefers aerated soil. A pH of 5.5 to 7.0 will keep plants healthy and nourished.
HYDROPONICS: There’s not a great deal of data on growing grapes hydroponically, so be sure to let us know on our contributor’s page if you have any success with growing grapes this way!
Water: Requires low to moderate levels of water. Although grapes are hearty, they will not produce much fruit if they aren’t watered regularly. Aim for at least 1″ of water per week.
Nutrients: Advice on fertilizing grape plants varies greatly across resources. We recommend applying fertilizer to the soil before planting only in regions where soil is particularly nutrient deficient. If soil quality is generally good, adding fertilizer to soil after the plant has been established (after 2 or 3 seasons) is recommended.
Pruning: Pruning is very important for grape plants and should be done in the early spring before the plant starts producing fruit. In the first year, remove all stalks save 2 or 3 in order for those stalks to become established. In subsequent years, remove all dead stalks as well as the stalks that fruited, as they will only fruit once. While producing fruit, excess leaves may be pinched off to provide more nutrients and sunlight. Plants will also need to be stalked or trellised prior to planting to keep plants off the ground.
Companions: Grows well with chives, clover, hyssop, and mustard greens. Avoid radishes and cabbage.
Harvest: Can generally be picked in the late summer and early fall. Feel free to test the flavor before picking: grapes will not continue to ripen once they are off the vine.
Storage: May be stored in cardboard boxes or straw/sawdust-lined containers to avoid excess moisture that can cause rot. Check bunches for rotten grapes prior to storing in a cool, dark space. May also be kept fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Tips: Whether grown inside or outside, keep in mind that seedless grapes will produce smaller fruits than those with seeds.
Preserve: Often preserved as jams, jellies, and raisins. To preserve whole grapes, first halve them. Create a syrup using sugar and water (about 2/3 cup sugar to 1 cup water), place grapes in a container with the syrup and freeze. Grapes may also be frozen whole without syrup but will need to be eaten that way as a tasty, healthy, summer snack: grapes do not defrost well.
Prepare: To prepare grapes as a jam or jelly see our “Culinary” section. Grapes are most commonly eaten raw, either alone or in salads.
Nutritional: Rich in vitamin(s) A, C, B6, folate, and natural sugars. Grapes also contain trace amounts of potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, selenium, and magnesium.
Medicinal: Due to their high content of vitamins and minerals, grapes have been cited to positively impact health in ways ranging from mental (protecting against Alzheimer’s disease) to physical (protection from certain cancers, fungal infections, and allergies).
To impress your family and friends with homemade jams and jellies, check out this Grape Jam Recipe!