Notting Hill, West LondonContemporary Terrace, London
Photo by Andreas von Einsiedel
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12 Adolfo Harrison Gardens
How do I prune to create a ‘standard’?If space is an issue, you can grow grape vines in containers quite successfully. Even though you may not get a huge amount of fruit, and vines are slow to develop as a ‘standard’ – a single stem with a head at the top – they do look good. Being in a container also means you can always move them to get as much sun as possible. If you’re planting a vine in a container, you want to achieve a single stem. When new shoots develop in spring, snip or rub them off the main stem. This will encourage strong stems to shoot up from the top. When these new shoots have grown to 7 or 8cm (3in) in length (around five stems is a good number), take out the tips of each one, which further encourages side shoots to spring. This will form a nice strong head to your plant. In the first year, your vine will bear no fruit; in the second year, prune the top again, snipping back the stems at the head to 7 or 8cm (3in). It’s best to remove any flowers in the first two years to allow the plant to put its energy into the third year, when it should produce at least three good bunches of grapes. This three-year method of pruning your standard vine also applies to any new young vines, whether grown outside or inside – but your indoor vine may need a bit more help with pollination. By year three, you should have a good head on top to support the bunches of grapes.