It is late January and that means it is cold outside. Single digits below zero fahrenheit (in the -20s C) are the norm. Today we are a bit on the warm side – low 20s above zero fahrenheit (-6 C). Even with chilly outside, inside, we are starting to get moving on spring plans. The ground is rock-solid and frozen with several feet of frost, but garden and yard layout can still be imagined with something as simple as pencil and paper. For now, though, I am attempting to root a grape vine.

We have two basset hound puppies that for all practical purposes, are like nematodes with legs. I do not mean this in a pejorative sense, but more a physiological sense: nematodes have a strong digestive tract with openings on each end.

We did (past tense) have a lovely, four year old riverbank grape vine growing up the side of our shed. This was until the youngest nematode, err, puppy, discovered it was a large "stitch". The lovely vine was reduced to a stump. I did manage to save a length of vine. Wrapped in wet paper towel and placed in the refrigerator, the length rested.

Rooting Powder
Rooting Powder

Rooting a clipping or piece of stem is the process where you help or force roots to develop; basically it is a simple form of cloning. I am by no means a rooting expert. But, you will basically need:

  • A dormant, vine cutting with a few bud-points
  • Root powder/hormone
  • A heat mat
  • Potting soil mixed with a little sand
  • A pot
  • Stiff wire
  • A sheet of heavy, clear plastic

Start by trimming both ends; identify which way the buds are pointing, pointing up – that is your top (bottom is the opposite end if you were wondering). Cut the top at an angle and the bottom straight. Between the top and bottom, you will want several bud-points and little leaf scarring.

Plastic Tent
Plastic Tent

Prepare your potting soil mix by mixing in a little bit of sand. The sand helps to lessen the moisture slightly and, in theory, helps to lessen bad molds. Whether this is true or not, I am not sure. It sounds sensible, though.

Dampen the bottom end and dip into the rooting powder/hormone. Tap off any excess. Push the cutting, bottom first, into the soil closer to the pot’s edge than the middle. With two pieces of wire make a hoop-cage that goes up and over the cutting. Drape your clear plastic over after having watered a bit. Rubber band around the pot, and set the whole thing on a heat mat. And now wait. You will want to water the pot now and again if the soil is looking dry, but do not over water.