Do Grape Vines Cry?

Knowing when and what to prune is something every gardener has to figure out at some point. We all learn the basics. We observe what works and watch to see what others do. Prune spring flowering shrubs after they’ve bloomed, prune summer/fall flowering shrubs in the spring. Prune trees when the wood isn’t frozen, preferably in late winter. Prune deadwood at any time.

Grapes should also be pruned back in late winter. However, the head gardener here at May Dreams Gardens (me) didn’t prune the grapes in late winter. I did think about it in early March, but then, as is well-documented, it got quite warm and the buds starting to break on the vine, and I decided it might be too late.

Then it got cold again for several weeks and I thought maybe I could prune the grapes anyway, but I didn’t. Now it is warm and nice and sunny again. Almost like summer, except it still gets cool at night.

This afternoon, I was weeding around the grape vines, and a couple of the vines got in my way, so I reached up and cut them off. I figured it wouldn’t hurt the vine, and with all the buds now brown from the cold, I’m not counting on any grapes this year.

Then I proceeded with my weeding and felt a drop of water hit my arm. What was that? Bird droppings? Nope, just water. But it wasn’t raining. Several more drops hit my arm before I looked up to see the grape vine dripping water from where I cut it off. I watched as one drop after another formed. I’ve done a lot of pruning and I've studied plant physiology enough to know basically what's going on with the plant, but I have never seen a cut like that literally drip water.

I guess that means that this ISN’T a good time to prune the grape vines.


  1. My Pagoda Dogwood used to do that in spring, Carol, when I needed to prune a stray branch for shape. But the horticultural advice said not to worry, that it was more distressing to the gardener than to the plant... I'm not sure about grapes, though - maybe it would bother them.


  2. sounds like it was crying to me.
    Kathy, the older sister

  3. I don't thing that the dripping will hurt anything, and it should stop soon. The same thing happened last year, not to my grapes, but to a small fig tree. It seemed like it would never stop, but it did. The tre went on to be very productive.

  4. I wonder if the grape sap is sweet like sugar maples?

  5. Yikes... I'm going to have to go kick my head gardener in the rear because my grapes haven't been pruned yet, either! (I'll let you know if the grapevine "cries" when I do.)

  6. Somehow I've seem to have missed this post.It's hard to keep up with your posts sometimes. ;-)

    Grapes should only be pruned when they are dormant (winter). If you prune them when they are growing in Spring, they bleed, like you have experienced. This could actually kill them as they can bleed to death, so please be careful and prune in winter only. It is however OK to give them a light trim in summer.

    Kim: if at all possible don't prune your grape now but wait until it's summer. If you do prune it now, burn the wounds so they close and the grape doesn't lose all that sap. But your best option is to wait as you run the risk of losing your grape.

    Carol: I hope your grape will survive!

    More info:

  7. All... thanks for the comments. I'm planning to wait until the grape vine has leaved out to trim it. It is too soon, anyway, to know what was damaged by the cold weather a few weeks ago, but I do know there is some damage.

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

  8. i just stumbled across your blog because i have done exactly the same thing...
    it's been 24 hours and it's still "crying"
    this particular vine is about to be removed since it is where i am building an extension for my studio, but it's made me very sad nonetheless to be confronted with such a physical and on going proof of the damage i caused.

  9. This is the most ridiculous, cutie-pie crap I've heard in a while - gardeners are allowed to be irrationally exuberant and emotional but one expects them to be scientific/rational too in the face of facts. What you're seeing is "watering" on the vine after pruning and is perfectly normal. (Check out any viticulture sites). Sorry about using some harsh language but I'm coming off an argument with someone breeds dogs but believes the Darwin is wrong.

  10. Sorry about the typos in the above posting:"..with someone WHO breeds dogs but believes THAT Darwin is wrong."

  11. I am worried that I have caused serious problems to my grapes...I recently purchased a old house with some very mature grapes. Cut back a big branch that was destroying my fence and it is pouring water out non stop! !!!! Have I just killed this gorgeous plant????????

  12. I just had the same thing happen and need to know - did your vines come back? Mine was wild and I had cut it way back and am now worried. We don't get grapes from this vine, we use the leaves to make stuffed grape leaves. It is crying a river ar the moment... Yikes.


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