Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Backyard Nature Wednesday: Muscadines

Muscadines are native Southern vines that are valued for their fruit, thick-skinned sweet grapes that make excellent jelly, a favorite of mine in my childhood. They also can be made into a sweet table wine which many people enjoy. Moreover, the vines themselves provide a touch of color in the autumn landscape as their leaves change to their fall colors.

The quick-growing vines will provide enough growth each year to arch over and shade a walkway, an arbor, or provide an umbrella of shade over a deck or terrace. Indeed, the vines should be carefully pruned each year to direct their growth and to keep them from taking over the world! 

The grapes begin to ripen at this time of year. The bunches don't ripen uniformly; rather, they turn color one or two at a time in each cluster. I have only two vines in my garden and they don't provide enough fruit for a lot of preserving. But they do provide enough for me to pluck a few for a snack as I walk by. And they serve their main purpose which is to provide food for wildlife - especially the birds. As the fruits ripen and fall to the ground, mockingbirds are on them like ducks on a June-bug! They do love those muscadines.

As more of the leaves fall, the fruits will be exposed to the sun and ripening will come more quickly.

Muscadines are very hardy vines that are resistant to many of the diseases that afflict grape stocks that come from Europe or other parts of the world. They are easily grown in the South, where, in fact, they grow wild, and they require very little care beyond winter pruning, but their fruit production can certainly be enhanced by the regular application of a 10-10-10 fertilizer or organic plant food. 

10 comments:

  1. Nice plant; I hadn't seen it before.

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    1. According to Wikipedia, some of the vines grow as far north as Delaware, but I'm sure they don't make it to your area. They are most happy in the South Central and Southeast parts of the continent.

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  2. Yummmm :-) I may suggest this to my husband. We have had a Mars grapevine for a number of years and it gets progressively worse each year. Time to replace it, I think.

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    1. I think muscadines are the way to go for our area. I have a 'Black Fry' and a 'Cowart' vine and I can recommend both of them. They've done well for me, but I've had them for several years and there are newer varieties that may be better. Ison's Nursery (mail order) has a wide selection and that's where I bought mine.

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  3. I love muscadine jelly and muscadine wine, which I have sampled in the Carolinas. I made the mistake of buying some fresh, though - not exactly like eating the grapes I am used to where I live in upstate New York. Fascinating ripening habit.

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    1. No, they are unlike grapes of European origin for sure. The skins are much thicker which doesn't really make them the best choice for eating, but they are wonderful for jellies and wines.

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  4. We can grow grapes here in London too, but I have never considered it as they do take a lot of space, reading about yours makes me wish I had a slightly bigger garden :-)

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    1. The thing about muscadines is that they can grow quite large, but they can also be ruthlessly pruned to keep them within the space allotted for them.

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    2. How big do they grow in one season - once the vines are a bit mature? Can I for example grow a vine trailing on my shed and keep it there without it taking over the rest of the garden during the summer? I have bad experience with my passion flower from previous garden, it grew from baby to monster in 3 years!

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    3. They can get quite large in a season, but we keep ours pruned. A couple of vines like ours could cover a good-sized arbor in a season, but ours are on a post and wire system and they have to be trimmed every few weeks to keep them in check.

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