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The California grape is a large deciduous vine with thick woody stems and coarse foliage that can quickly grow to 30-40 ft. in size. Large medium green leaves have coarsely cut lobes and margins; these turn colorful yellow and red in the fall. Edible purple grapes from 1/4 in. to 3/4 in. dia. grow in large clusters and ripen in summer.

California grape is native to foothill and valley habitats below 3,000 ft. in elevation from Oregon through northern and central California. Throughout this range it is adapted to cold winters, warm summers and places where summer moisture can be found. It commonly spreads as an understory plant over the ground in both sun and shade, and easily climbs over shrubs and into trees. The native species is a valuable habitat plant within natural settings and is increasingly being planted in ornamental gardens on fences and trellises. One popular cultivar, V. c. 'Roger's Red' grows to 25-30 ft. in size and produces bright red leaf color in the fall. These are robust and large vines that need a lot of space to grow.

Water Needs

The California grape grows in both sun and shade and is adapted to regular winter and spring moisture before adjusting to summer dry spells. Periodic deep watering in summer helps this vine retain good foliage character. The chart shown below provides a baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 3

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 9"-16"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Vine, Native
Foliage Character: Winter deciduous
Habit: Trailing, Spreading, Sprawling, Robust, Mounding, Climbing
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 30 ft. - 40 ft.
Width: 30 ft. - 40 ft.
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Foliage Color: Medium green, Seasonal red, Seasonal gold
Flower Color: Insignificant
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Moist soil, Loam, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Moderate shade, Cold hardy, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Screening, Residential spaces, Raised planters, Parks and open space, Overhead structures, Foundations, Foliage accent plant, Espalier, Culinary use, Banks, Background plant


Prune in winter when dormant. California grape will develop a beautiful thick primary vine / trunk over time, so dont let it grow through chain link or lattice when young. It will both compromise the long term health of the vine and will damage the materials it grows through (S). Mature plants can cover huge areas. Established plants should be pruned back significantly every year (3).



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