grape vine question
I purchased two grapevines and two blueberry plants last fall and planted them in my yard. I wasn't sure that they would make it but I had fresh growth on all four a month ago. When it was cold last week I covered them with burlap bags and I am thinking that I caused damage. When I took the burlap bags off of the grapevines all of the leaves looked like they were dying and I have attached a pic where it all looks brown. I know it was going to be about three years before there would be usable fruit. My question is this...how do I know if I have killed them for good? I was considering moving them anyway...so is there a certain time that I should wait to move them?
Los Angeles County California
There are many reasons for a young grapevine to lose its leaves. Different varieties of grapes have different cold hardiness with some being able to withstand much colder temperatures than others. Adequate water in the ground is essential and must be maintained all year, even in the winter, in order for the roots to stay healthy and nourish the plant. That doesn't mean to drench the soil and drown the plant, just keep it somewhat moist and don't let it dry out completely. There are also diseases and insects that can cause damage to the plants.
It's not possible to determine the cause of the problem with your grapevines from the picture. They may survive or they might be gone. You can use a fingernail to scratch the bark on the vine to see if there is still any green under the bark. If so the plant stands a good chance of being okay over time. If not, I would still give it a few weeks to see if it recovers.
Don't disturb these already stressed plants this spring. If you can possibly wait until fall to move them, they will have a better chance to recover.
This publication gives additional information on cold injury to grapevines and you can contact your local office of Cooperative Extension to see if they accept samples of plants to diagnose problems with them. Your local office can be found at this website.
Good luck with your plants. If you have additional questions on this subject, please use the reply feature within this email or contact your local office. And thanks for using Ask an Expert!