For every region, there seems to be a grape (Vitis spp.) that will prosper. No matter what the variety, transplanting grapes in fall or early spring when the vines are dormant but the ground isn't frozen is best, though transplanting grape vines in summer is not impossible if you're moving them out of pots. Be sure to check that cold snaps or storms -- especially those with high winds -- aren't anticipated as transplanting time nears. Depending on the species and cultivar, grapes are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 to 10.
Transplanting Grapes in Fall or Spring
If you're moving grapes from one part of your property to another, begin prepping the vines several months before the transplant by preparing the root system. If you have a choice, look for younger vines, which bounce back more quickly when moved. Prune the root ball by driving a sharp spade in a circular pattern, about 1 foot in diameter, from the base of each vine. This step encourages the formation of callus tissue that will eventually develop new roots after transplanting.
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Digging and Moving the Vines
Digging the vines from their first location is the most labor-intensive part of the process. That's especially true if you're moving older vines, which can be several feet across, as well as heavy to lift and transport. Set the dug-up roots onto a large swath of burlap fabric in order to drag it to your new location, or lift it into a vehicle for transport. Ideally, you will have already dug the new holes to lessen the amount of time the roots are exposed to open air and help prevent grape vine transplant shock.
Preparing the Planting Site
Whether you're transplanting your own grapevines or those purchases from a nursery, it's important to prepare the area at least a few weeks before planting time. Make sure the site is in full sun with well-drained soil. If necessary, you can amend the garden bed with sand or compost to improve drainage or prepare raised beds filled with compost, peat moss or coconut coir, topsoil or garden soil and coarse sand or lava rock. Grapes prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil; use limestone to raise pH that is lower than 6.5, or sulfur to lower pH higher than 7.5.
When you dig the hole for the grapevine, create a space about as wide and slightly deeper than the root ball's height. Loosen the soil around the planting hole to facilitate root growth into the surrounding soil. Fill the hole with water and allow it to soak into the soil before planting your grapevine. Add the trellis or other support method before transplanting the vine.
Planting the Grapevine
Prepare bare root grapevines by removing from the plastic. Put the root ball into a bucket of water and allow it to soak for three to four hours to hydrate the roots. Potted grapevines and those you're moving from another site should be removed from the pot or other wrappings and planted as quickly as possible.
Set the grapevine in the hole. If the roots don't have enough room to spread out, widen the hole. This is also a good time to prune away any roots that are longer than the others, or that appear broken, diseased or dead. Check the trunk for a graft line; be sure that it will be approximately 6 inches above the soil when you finish transplanting the grapevine.
After you've set the vine in the hole, back-filled with soil and watered the area generously, trim the above-ground parts above the graft to a single cane with two to four buds. This cane should be tied to a stake or the lower part of the trellis once it is tall enough.