Vine propagation


Seeds are used to produce new cultivars, hybrids & rootstocks, but not in commercial viticulture nurseries, as:

  • Need to use controlled pollination techniques
  • The vine’s progeny have a wide variation of characteristics, often inferior to the parent
  • Propagation from cuttings is quicker & easier


Occurs naturally, and is often used commercially for species like Vitis berlandieri & rotundifolia(which are difficult to root from cuttings) or for replacing missing plants in vineyards. After winter pruning a cane is buried in the ground leaving the last bud or two above surface (N.B. can twist a wire around the cane to constrict.). During growing season;

  • Remove shoots growing on cane except for tip
  • Remove flowers for first year
  • Roots grow on the cane’s nodes, so plants can be separated the following year


Cuttings are pieces of parent plants (stems, roots, leaves) that will develop into a new plant when placed in the right conditions. In viticulture, different types of cuttings are used:

  • Hardwood cuttings (commercial)
  • Softwood cuttings (research)
  • Meristematic tissue (in vitro research)

Note, that is important to choose hardwood cuttings carefully:

  • Autumn or early winter, so that reserves are highest
  • Collect wood from healthy, virus-free and productive vines
  • Wood grown in previous year, well-ripened
  • The cuttings should be about pencil-thick, with internodal length about 6 cm, no dodgy blotches. Avoid canes which are flat or angular in cross-section.
  • When cut, inner bark is green and full of sap, wood is firm and free from dark specks

The ideal length of the cutting is between 30 – 45 cm, depending on how deep the roots need to be: the lighter the soil, the longer the cutting. Cuttings are then bundled, labelled, and then stored. Cuttings can be heat-treated by placing them at 50°C for 30 minutes. This will get rid of Phylloxera, nematodes, mycoplasmas (grapevine yellows & Pierce’s disease), Phytophthora & crown gall.

If they are to be grafted, they should be left in water overnight, otherwise, store in cool (1 – 4°C), damp place, perhaps buried in moist sand or sawdust.

If cuttings are not to be grafted, they can be planted out straight away into nursery or pot in greenhouse.In order to encourage this:

  • Make sure that they get plenty of water, as the leaves grow faster than the roots. Use mist propagation or a propagating frame.
  • Keep warm, temperature of 15 – 25°C are best. Best to heat from below, as this encourages root development.
  • Use loose, well-drained soil in a nursery or potting compost that has good aeration, a high water-holding capacity, good drainage and protection from vine weevils.