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The rod and spur pruning system is usually used for indoor grapes in greenhouses or conservatories, and for growing grapes against walls outdoors. It is also called the cordon system.
Grapes grown on a cordon system. Image: Simon Garbutt/RHS
The main pruning time is early winter (late November or December). Training and pinching out of new shoots, as well as thinning of fruits, is carried out in spring and summer.
Set up a support system as detailed on the grapes: pruning and training page.
Plant the vines during the dormant season from late autumn until late spring (October-March) following the guidelines on the indoor grapes or outdoor grapes pages (as appropriate). Leave 15cm (6in) between the vine and the wall or side of the glasshouse.
After planting, cut back the main stem by two-thirds and cut back any side shoots to one bud. The follow this advice from the first year:
In the growing season (when the main stem reaches 3m (10ft), or the top of the support)
In the growing season
If you have a vigorous vine that needs to cover a large space, consider training it as a double or multiple cordon as follows:
Grape vines can suffer from powdery mildew in hot, dry weather or when growing in crowded positions with poor air circulation.
They can also suffer from grey mould (Botrytis), downy mildew and the physiological disorder known as shanking. Birds and wasps can be problematic, and it is a good idea to hang wasp traps nearby, especially with early-season grapes.
Vines may suffer from nutrient deficiencies, particularly magnesium deficiency.
Grapes: pruning and trainingGrapes: outdoor cultivationGrapes: indoor cultivationGrapevine diseases
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In this fully revised edition, you’ll find updated advice by the RHS experts on what, when and how to prune.
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