One of the more annoying things of late is that often every grape I go to buy is a seedless variety. In the south you weren’t too hard pressed to find some wild muscadines growing out in a back lot someone forgot about and all kinds of wild blackberry brambles which made for good foraging.
You could easily eat the grapes and spit seeds around then notice over time even more wild grapes to choose fruit from.
Here in my new urban environment there isn’t much in the way of forage unless I drive some unknown distance. During my local garden research it came to light that a local university is actually responsible for a lot of new grape varieties of the last nearly 80 years or so.
They even have this cool wine grape research program where the goal is grapes that are cold-hardy, disease resistant, and of high quality. They cultivate special cultivars that are used all over.
The neat thing is you don’t need college or much of anything special to at least play with growing grapes from seeds. Grapes reproduce sexually and every seed is a genetic lottery ticket for a new random possibility.
I’ve acquired some seeds that may do well for the area. Now the question is how to start them?
Starting grapes from seed is sometimes tricky because there are a couple hurdles to overcome with them. Lot of the seeds might be non-viable or not fertile, and some may be diseased.
What Are Non Viable Seeds?
Nonviable seeds are seeds that were not properly stored or have been in storage for a long time. Grape seeds can expire quickly often only being viable for germination a couple of seasons.
The other great hurdle is grape seeds need a cold shock. You have to do a treatment called “cold stratifying” that mimics the seeds going through winter dormancy to trigger them into sprouting during their desired season which is spring.
How do you grow grapes from store bought grapes?
You can sometimes have viable seeds from store grapes if you get lucky and find a place with seeded grapes. If you extract those seeds then the cold stratifying process is pretty easy.
- Wash the seeds thoroughly to remove pulp residue.
- Do an extremely diluted bleach bath to the seeds to destroy possible contaminants. Refer to this document to get an idea of proper ratios of bleach to water.
- Soak the seeds for a full day IN PLAIN WATER (reminder that the bleach water is just to sanitize). You can use tap water or distilled water.
- Place the seeds in a container with peat moss.
- Place the peat moss container in the fridge for around 2-3 months. Do not use freezer. You want the temperature to be around 35 F and not below freezing.
Growing Grapes from Store Bought Seeds
If you got seeds from a seed dealer they often have already been cold treated so the only concern is if they are not viable.
How to Tell if Grape Seeds Are Viable?
- Put seeds in water.
- If seed is floating then they have some degree of being hollow and most likely will not germinate.
- Viable seeds are dense and will sink to the bottom.
Planting Your Grape Seeds
When spring comes around the seeds are ready for planting. Lot of perennial garden seeds are started indoors and grapes can be done this way as well. It isn’t a bad idea to keep them protected until later in spring so at least by early summer they are outside.
Until they are ready for the outdoors a warm location with good light will work. To germinate effectively they need to be kept around 60-70 F.
Germination for the grapes will vary on the unique properties of the seed. Parent cultivar, seed health, overall growing conditions will all play a role in when they sprouts start appearing. You will often be rewarded in a few weeks but at times they may be fickle and take up to 2 months. Often it is best not to expect all of the seeds to sprout as many of them will end up duds.