Buying a vine

Options.

Vines can be purchase either ‘bare root’ or ‘potted’.

Bare root vines

Bare root vines are lifted from the ground and substantially all the soil is removed from the roots. The advantage of this method is that it is comparatively easy to send vines through the post and is the cheapest method to ship vines, especially in large numbers. The disadvantage is that this can only be done when the vines are dormant - usually from early November until growth resumes in late April or early May. Both of these dates are very dependent on the weather as warm autumns delay the on onset of dormancy, frost discourages lifting and planting and a warm or cold spring can accelerate or delay bud burst.

Each year very many thousands of vines are shipped in this way in Europe, including the UK.

Potted Vines.

This is how you normally see vines in garden centres. The advantage of potted vines is that they can be purchased and planted at any time. One disadvantage is that they are difficult to send through the post.

However, in my experience of looking at vines in garden centres over a number of years, the growth is always rather puny and they not infrequently have even more puny bunches on them. Cropping vines this early is not recommended as the main aim in the early years is to get the roots and framework established.

The probable reason for these puny specimens is that the root growth is severely restricted in the pots. Vine that are not planted in fairly large pots do not seem to do well and when I have tried it I have always been disappointed with the results; when these vines have been moved to the ground they take several seasons (and a good deal of pruning) to resume anything like normal growth.

It is not surprising that the vast majority of vines are supplied bare root and that is how they are sold in the shop.

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