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VITIS

  • Planting

    1. Dig holes or beds wide, not deep
    2. Lightly amend heavy clay or sandy soils with organic matter
    3. Gently remove plants from containers, keeping the root ball intact
    4. Loosen potting soil and roots around bottom and edges of root ball
    5. Plant level with surrounding soil, spreading roots outward
    6. Fill around roots with lightly amended native soil
    7. Water to settle soil around roots
    8. Cover the area with leaf or bark mulch 1 - 3 inches thick but not piled up onto the plant's stem/trunk
    9. Water deeply
    10. Prune new fruit trees to just 2-3 feet tall to make them start branching out low to the ground

  • Watering

    1. Woody plants need watering less frequently than tender annuals or herbaceous plants
    2. Most established trees, shrubs, and vines can go weeks without supplemental watering except in extremely hot or windy weather
    3. Watering from a hose or sprinkler should be done slowly and deeply, not frequently, to avoid shallow root development or root diseases. Allow soil to dry several inches deep before irrigating
    4. When practical, especially in arid climates, use and maintain water-efficient soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Water briefly two or three times a week to keep soil moist, not wet
    5. Most winter injury is from drying out, not cold temperatures. Be prepared to water during prolonged sunny, windy, dry spells even in the winter.
    6. Mulches help prevent water loss during hot, windy, or sunny weather

  • Pruning

    1. Most pruned fruit plants will produce better quality, larger fruit that is easier to spray and harvest than unpruned plants, and the plants are less likely to split under the weight of too much fruit
    2. Prune most fruit plants in the winter by thinning out tall or cluttered growth, and removing extra long branches
    3. Avoid pruning too much of the previous season's growth, or you will remove the current season's flowers and therefore limit fruit production
    4. Grapevines require heavy pruning every winter to keep vines in bounds and to make harvesting easier; always leave some of the previous season's growth, from which new fruiting growth will sprout
    5. New spring growth of blueberries and "bramble" fruits (blackberries, raspberries, etc.) should be tip-pruned to cause stems to branch out instead of growing long and lanky; remove old fruiting stems after harvest in the summer
    6. Strawberries are best grown as 2- or 3-year crops; remove old plants and allow new plants to fill in

  • Propagation

    1. Many fruit plants can be grown from seed, but it takes a long time and the results are often not what was expected due to cross-pollination from "mother" plants
    2. Propagate tree fruit and grapevines from cuttings rooted in mid or late winter
    3. Root evergreen fruit shrubs in midsummer under high humidity
    4. Grafting and "budding" recent growth from mature plants onto rootstocks or branches of closely-related plants is easy but requires some skill; this is best done in late winter or spring
    5. Make cuts in rootstock or branches
    6. Working quickly to avoid anything drying out, cut and insert graftwood or buds into slits
    7. Wrap with rubber bands or other material to prevent drying out
    8. When the graft or bud starts to grow, remove twig or branch beyond it

  • Fertilization

    Most plants need a regular "diet" of all-purpose plant food, either specialty (labeled for your specific plant type) or a generic N-P-K (nitrogen - phosphorus - potassium)

    Fertilize early in the plant's growing cycle - spring for summer plants, fall for winter plants

    • For leafy plants, use a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content (first number)
    • For flowering or fruiting plants, use a fertilizer higher in phosphorous content (middle number)

    If using a water soluble fertilizer:

    1. Mix as directed on container according to directions
    2. Wet the leaves and drench soil
    3. Repeat

    If using a granulated fertilizer:

    1. Scatter a small amount of all-purpose fertilizer lightly under plants from the stem to beyond the outer spread of branches or foliage
    2. Water slowly and deeply

    NOTE: Never over fertilize! You will see lots of weak, leafy growth and few flowers