By Bonnie L. Grant
Grapevines are tenacious plants with wide-spreading root systems and persistent growth. Transplanting grapevines that are mature would practically take a backhoe, and digging out an old grapevine will require back breaking labor with mixed results. A better approach is to take cuttings and try rooting grapevines. Learning how to propagate grapevines from cuttings is not difficult and can preserve an old vine variety. New vines that are not heavily entrenched can be moved with some specific grapevine transplant info.
Can You Transplant Grapevines?
Relocating an old grapevine is not an easy undertaking. Grapevine roots are deep when compared to many other types of plants. They do not produce excessive roots, but the ones that they do grow extend deep into the earth.
This can make transplanting grapevines very difficult, as you have to dig deep enough to capture the entire root system. In old vineyards, this is accomplished with a backhoe. In the home garden, however, manual digging and lots of sweat are the best method for transplanting grapevines. Therefore, smaller vines are preferable if the need to transplant arises.
Grapevine Transplant Info
If you must transplant a grapevine, move vines in fall or early spring, cutting back the vine to 8 inches from the ground.
Before you dig out an older grapevine to move it, excavate down around the perimeter of the main trunk out a distance of 8 inches or more. This will help you find any peripheral roots and free them from the soil.
Once you have the bulk of the outer grapevine roots excavated, dig down deeply in a trench around the vertical roots. You may need help to move the vine once it is excavated.
Lay the roots on a large piece of burlap and wrap them in the material. Move the vine to a hole that is twice as wide as the roots. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to the depth of the vertical roots. Water the vine frequently while it re-establishes.
How to Propagate Grapevines
If you are relocating and want to preserve the grape variety you had at your home, the easiest way is to take a cutting.
Hardwood is the best material for propagation. Take the cuttings in the dormant season between February and March. Harvest wood from the previous season. Wood must be pencil sized and about 12 inches long.
Place the cutting in a plastic bag with a piece of moist moss in the refrigerator until soil is thawed and workable. Wait until the soil is completely thawed before rooting grapevines.
In early spring, prepare a bed with loose soil and put the cutting in the soil vertically with the top bud just above the surface of the soil. Keep the cutting moderately moist during spring and summer.
Once the cutting has grapevine roots, you can transplant it the following spring to a permanent location. Transplanting grapevines of this size is no different from planting a new plant.