How to grow Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’

When it come to choosing climbing plants for the garden, beside the blooms and leaf shapes, there is little choice in foliage colour. However disipe Henry Ford's (misquoted) slogan of '... any customer can have a climbing plant of any color that they want so long as it is green...', Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ is a glorious exception.

Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ fruits
Commonly known as the Purple-leaved grape vine, Teinturier grape or Claret grape, Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ is a vigorous, deciduous, large tendril-climber with deeply-lobed leaves. Given favourable conditions it can reach a height of approximately 4-8 metres with a spread of 1.5-2.5 metres. However when grown along a standard height fence (1.8 metres), you can easily expect a run of 6-8 metres.

While Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ will produce both flowers and small, deep purple grapes, it is the gorgeous purple summer foliage which is its notable feature. They emerge a claret-red in the spring, and these gorgeous pigments will deepen almost to black by late summer, turning crimson-tinted into the autumn. It is particularly effective when grown as a backdrop to silver or grey foliage plants. This is used to great effect when training Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ into Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula' - the ornamental, weeping, silver-leaved pear.

How to grow Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’
Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ will perform best in a deeply cultivated, moist loamy soil. Lime will need to be added if the soil is on the acidic side. Luckily, almost any position and aspect will be suitable, just provide a structure for support. Tie the branches into a well-spaced framework, the plant will then support itself as the growing season progresses. It its first year water during extended period of drought.

Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’ received the Award of Merit (AM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1958, and the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1984.