Pruning Grape Vines… and Leaking Cuts

Knowing exactly when it’s the right time to prune your grape vines is pretty important. I thought I had my timing right when I pruned a few branches right before Spring was officially here, but evidently it was too late in the season to do so. I didn’t figure it would matter much either way if I only chopped off three little vines. Boy was I wrong.

leaking grape vine
The day after I pruned, I noticed that the plant was leaking from the fresh cuts. Water was literally dripping from the vine.  It hasn’t stopped leaking since… and it’s been about six weeks now.


pruning grape vines
I looked it up and the condition is called “bleeding”. Supposedly it’s best to just let the plant heal on its own (as opposed to painting something on it to make it stop leaking). In extreme cases the plant can die, or can become less vigorous. I’m hoping mine pulls through okay.

Experts recommend that you do your pruning in Fall or early Winter, when all of the leaves have fallen from the plant. During dormancy the sap in the vines is at a low level, and bleeding is less likely to occur. When it starts to get close to Spring (even mid to late winter), the sap begins to rise again, delivering water and sugar to the growing leaf buds. If you prune during this time, you are disrupting the flow of the sap and the result is dripping vines. Like mine.

Now I know. Only prune in Fall and early Winter. Even if it’s only one little branch.

I keep watching it every day to see if it has stopped dripping yet. I’ll be glad when it does!

14 thoughts on “Pruning Grape Vines… and Leaking Cuts”

  1. I live in southern California and have one Vine (5ys) I usually let it drop most leaves before I prune. But this year it grew ridiculously out of control so I cut it back to four runs. It’s August but still hitting 117 degrees. It bleeding bad. Is there anything I can do to reduce the hemorrhaging.

  2. Just for the record, 2 days ago I cut the dead wood on an old vine, to tidy it up. The vine was just starting to flower.
    Unfortunately I cut more than one branch with sap in it. 2 branches did not drip, they flowed steadily for at least 4 hours, possibly 12 hours. 48 hours later, 4 branches are still bleeding freely. I can imagine they will kill the vine. The drainage of food must have a dreadful effect on the vine. Even a well established one. I have tried a putty type cover on the cut with no effect.

    • This happened to mine today. I pruned in January. Our temps have been a steady 60° … In SW idaho. Came accross this link. As well

      • Oh boy I think I hurt my grape tree,I cut it a few day ago and is still dripping water, I learn my lesson, thank you for your advice on this matter.

  3. Hello Kendra, I pruned my grape arbor last week and I really pruned it. about four years ago I went about a foot and a half off the ground and it came back wonderfully. didn’t get grapes of course til the following year. but I did get lots of grapes and it was wonderful. so its been awhile ,and last year I got a good crop but they all turned to rasins and dried up. grrr. so my son who was missing homemade jelly went and picked wild grapes, wonderful jelly ! so determined I’d get grapes this year about four weeks ago my hubby went and trimmed them, hhmm, he didn’t take off as far as I was concerned so last week I did what my brother told me to do, which was to leave two good runners on each and get rid of the rest. my dad use to has so many grape vines. I have six from his original farm. so I didn’t see any bleeding so far that I know of but we shall wait and see. don’t think i’ll get grapes this year though. hubby was not too happy, so we are just gonna see who was right. because he definitely didn’t take hardly any off. the sun would not be able to get through which was the problem………..ciao for now

  4. Aww! I’m so sorry this happened to you. Most deciduous plants and trees require pruning while they are dormant, which is usually when it’s coldest and the after the leaves have all dropped, as you now know :(. APRICOT trees, on the other hand, can’t take the cold and should be pruned during summer.

  5. We just moved into a new house at the beginning of April. It came with a row of grapevines in the backyard. I just noticed the other day that this thick, gelatinous substance was oozing from the pruned parts. Is this the same thing? I hope they will produce for us!

  6. I just noticed this on ours too. Grr. We switched from spur to cane pruning on these because cane pruned vines are supposed to do better in cold climates. So there were some major cuts. I would be so upset if they died! Mine aren’t dripping water though- it’s more congealed… do you suppose it’s the same thing but just because it’s still chilly here?


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