Low-Maintenance Grapevines for Edible Home Landscaping
by Michael Cook
A grapevine can add both beauty and functionality in any home landscape, and these-low maintenance cultivars should produce for many years. The Lone Star state is home to the largest repository of wild grape species in the nation with 13 native varieties.
In 2015, viticulturist Dr. Justin Scheiner and horticulturist Dr. Steve George of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, designed six Earth-Kind vineyard research trials spread across the state to evaluate potential improved cultivars suitable for backyard grape growing. In 2019, three more sites were added across Dallas-Fort Worth.
Grapevines from these trials were evaluated and only the ones that meet the rigorous demands of Earth-Kind gardening are recommended regarding the criteria of
Pierce’s disease tolerant; aesthetically pleasing; self-fertile; productive; high-quality fruit; and minimal disease and pestilence susceptibility. Recommended cultivars include:
Southern Home— As opposed to true muscadines it will tolerate both acidic as well as slightly alkaline soils. It has performed well on the heavy “black gumbo” clay that is prevalent in Dallas/Fort Worth. It has very good candy like flavor and can also be used for wine.
Champanel—It thrives on heavy clay soil, requires very little input, and has beautiful dark green leaves with snow white undersides that catch the eye when there is a breeze.
Lomanto—The vines are well adapted to the soils of North Texas and do not grow as large as Champanel; this is of benefit for those with tight spaces in their landscape.
Victoria Red—The flavor and texture is utterly refreshing. It has edible seeds, but not many in each grape. The pinkish-rose colored grapes grow in long clusters, many up to a foot long. Berries start maturing in mid-July to early August. It is well adapted to our soil and heat.
Miss blanc— This grape is an extremely tough hybrid from Mississippi that does well in North Texas. It thrives under heat and humidity and has low pest disease susceptibility.
Michael Cook is the North Texas viticulture program specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. He can be reached at 940-349-2896 or [email protected]