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How to Grow Blackcurrants

A guide to growing Blackcurrant Bushes in gardens, allotments and containers

Blackcurrants

Family/Latin Name

Grossulariaceae - Ribes  Nigrum

Type of Plant

Hardy Deciduous Bush

Suitable for

Gardens, Allotments, Large Containers

Recommended Tree Forms Bush
               Jump to:-    Pruning   |  Pests & Diseases 

 

Growing Blackcurrants - Details

See also:-  Fruit Growing Glossary  |  Tree Forms  |  Container Growing  | Buying Plants

 

Site and Soil

Prefer full sun out of strong winds
Tolerant of most soil types provided they are well drained and at least 38cm/15" in depth with plenty of added compost or manure
Suitable for very large tubs e.g. half barrels

Plant Dimensions

Height: 1.6m/5ft -  Spread: 1.6m/5ft

Yield per mature Bush

4.5kg/10lb

Time between planting  and harvesting

Maiden/New cuttings -  produce 2 seasons after planting

1- year old plants: Produce the season after planting

Planting Time

Late October to March (soil conditions permitting)

Number of plants needed for pollination 1
How to plant - Open ground Prepare the ground in Autumn before planting, dig in as much well rotted manure or compost as possible. Just before planting, fork in a general fertiliser such as Growmore.

Space bushes 1.5m/5ft apart on all sides about 2.5cm/1" deeper than they were planted in the nursery. You should be able to see the soil mark on the stem(s). Cut all stems down to 1 bud above soil level. Water in.
How to plant - in containers Container size minimum 75cm/2½ft wide x 60cm/2ft deep. Good drainage is essential so make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Place a 2.5cm/1" layer of stones or crocks in the bottom and cover with enough soil or compost so that when you place the tree in the container, the original planting depth (which you should be able to see on the stem of the bush)  7.5cm/3" below the top of the container. Fill the container with soil or a loam based compost to the 2.5cm/1" deeper than the original planting depth. Firm well and water in.

  Aftercare Open Ground - Yearly pruning will be necessary (see below). Every year in January apply a 5cm/2" mulch to the surface of the soil surrounding the bush to a radius of at least 30cm/12" and apply a potash rich fertiliser.  Applying a nitrogen fertiliser in March is desirable.
Containers -  Each plant will need pruning, supporting with 3 tall canes set equidistantly apart in the pot and training (see below). Yearly pruning will be necessary (see below). After the first season of fruiting, it is best to carefully remove some of the soil from the container and replace it with fresh compost every year in January. Do this carefully so as not to damage the roots. Keep the containers well watered.
General - Protect from birds with netting. Once the fruit begin to swell, keep well watered, watering the base of the plants only to avoid the risk of fungal diseases.
  Harvesting Fruit for eating are best left to completely ripen on the tree. Harvesting takes place between  July and August depending on the cultivar.  Pick whole sprigs of fruit.
  Propagation In Autumn select strong pieces of the current seasons growth which are about the width of a pencil.  Cut pieces 25cm/10" long just below a bud. Trim any unripe wood from the top of the cutting to just above a bud. Plant the cuttings in a slit made in the soil with a trowel or spade, so that only 2 buds remain above the soil level then firm in. Transplant to a new position once the roots are well developed which takes about 1 year.

How to Prune Blackcurrant Bushes

Blackcurrants fruit  is best on 2nd year wood - less on older wood, so the aim is to encourage some new canes to be produced every year for fruiting the following season.  In the first year after planting, there should be several (7or 8) strong new shoots by the end of the summer. Do not prune these in the first winter, but leave them to bear fruit the following summer. Only remove any weak growths, cutting them back to 2.5cm/1" of soil level.

In subsequent years, in November cut back around 1/3rd of all the branches down to ground level to encourage new vigorous growth at the base of the plant. Choose older stems or weak growth, leaving strong current season's stems - these will bear fruit next season. More can be pruned if the bush has become very crowded in the centre.

Blackcurrant Pests & Diseases

Pests Diseases
Birds - like to eat the berries which can decimate the crop. Protect  with netting, cotton or cages.

Aphids can cause leaves to curl or honeydew or mould to form on the fruit and leaves. There are chemicals available to combat aphids which can be bought at garden centres. Organic methods include spraying with diluted washing up liquid ( 1 teasp per 2 litres of water), companion planting of flowers such as marigolds nearby.

Black Currant Gall Mite -
buds to become round and swollen, noticeable in January to February. Affected buds fail to develop and have distorted leaves. Almost impossible to stop once  present, rubbing off the infected buds and burning them may slow down its advance.
Leaf Spot - dark brown spots appear on leaves which get bigger and join up until the whole leaf turns brown. Remove and burn  diseased leaves.  Immediately after flowering spray with a copper fungicide.

Reversion Disease -  The Gall  Mite is often the main cause of reversion disease.  Buds turn bright magenta.  No cure. Dig up and burn infected plants and do not plant new ones in the same place for five years.

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