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Time to prune your vines4 December 2012
Time to prune your vines while they're completely dormant, as once the sap starts rising – from as early as January in southern areas – any cuts made to the plant bleed copious sap, weakening future growth.
There's a great variety of grapevines to choose from at the garden centre, from ornamental Vitis coignetiae with huge leaves turning brilliant purple and scarlet in autumn, to productive V. vinifera heavily laden with sweet wine or dessert grapes. 'Black Hamburgh' is a dark purple dessert variety, while 'Siegerrebe' produces fine white grapes for eating or winemaking.
Pruning can get complicated – but for a vine growing on supports up a wall in the garden, stick to the straightforward cordon method.
1. While the vine is establishing, select a strong, vigorous main stem (two or three if you have room) and train it horizontally along support wires.
2. Each winter, after the vine has lost its leaves and before growth starts again in spring, work up the length of the stem cutting back every side shoot to two strong buds from the main stem.
3. Once the main stems grow beyond the space you want them to fill, start cutting them back too each year by about a third of their length.