How to Grow Grapes in Florida? The heat and humidity of Florida take a toll on the kind of grapevines (Vitis spp.) that are commonly grown further north, making them difficult, if not impossible, to grow in the state. However, two types of grapes thrive in Florida despite the climate’s obstacles. If you’re looking to cultivate grapes in Florida, these are the best grapes to grow.
How to Grow Grapes in Florida?
1. Florida Hybrid Bunch Grapes
The grapes most typically grown in northern latitudes, such as the European grape ( Vitis vinifera ), are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, making them unsuitable for the humid Florida climate. Furthermore, many grape varieties are susceptible to Pierce’s disease, a bacterial infection that kills infected vines and is prevalent in the southern United States.
Grape producers, on the other hand, have developed hybrids of European grape and native American grape species that are resistant to Pierce’s disease and better adapted to Florida’s heat and humidity. These types are frequently referred to jointly as Florida hybrid bunch grape (Vitis vinifera x Vitis spp.).
“Blanc du Bois” is a popular Florida hybrid bunch grape cultivar. It is hardy in USDA zones 6 through 10, allowing it to be cultivated in much of Florida, from USDA zone 8a in the north to USDA zone 11b in the keys off the state’s southern coast.
Because bunch grapes produce relatively large clusters of tightly bunched fruits, they are susceptible to fungus and rot. As a result, they are slightly more difficult to cultivate in Florida’s humidity than grapes with smaller fruit clusters.
2. Native Muscadine Grapes
Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.) are also well-suited to Florida’s environment. The species is native to the southeastern United States and grows in USDA zones 6–10. It is resistant to Pierce’s disease and, because muscadine fruit clusters are small, it is less vulnerable to rot and fungal issues than most bunch grape varieties. However, the peculiar flavour of its fruits makes it unsuitable for winemaking. Muscadine types that are often planted include “Fry,” “Nesbitt,” “Noble,” and “Summit.”
3. Growing Conditions for Florida Grapes
Both muscadine and Florida hybrid bunch grape thrive in full sun and sandy, well-drained soil with a pH of around 6. Grapevines can live in locations with at least 30 inches of rainfall per year, which applies to all of Florida, but the plants produce better when each receives supplemental irrigation of 2 to 4 gallons of water per day, especially during dry years.
The optimal spacing between plants is determined by the structure of the planting area. However, typical spacing between plant rows is 10 to 15 feet, followed by 12 to 20 feet between muscadine plants within a row and 8 feet between other bunch grapes within a row.
4. Fertilizer Needs for Grapes
Fertilizer is also applied on a regular basis to these grapes. When planting, add 1/4 pound of bone meal to each planting hole to assist vines establish. When the plants sprout new growth in the spring, spread 1/4 pound of an 8-8-8 dry fertiliser around the base of each plant in a 1-foot-wide circle. Apply the dry fertiliser again in June and August. Increase the dry fertiliser application rate to 1 to 2 pounds per vine in the second year, and apply it in March, June, or July. Increase the spraying rate to 3 to 4 pounds per plant in succeeding years.
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