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How to Grow Red Currants

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

Redcurrants

Family/Latin Name

Grossulariaceae - Ribes R. rubrum

Type of Plant

Hardy Deciduous Bush

Suitable for

Gardens, Allotments, Large Containers

Recommended Tree Forms Bush, Cordon
Jump to:-    Tree Sizes  |  Yields  |  Pruning   |  Pests & Diseases 

 

Growing Redcurrants - Details

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

 

Site and Soil

Prefer full sun or partial shade out of strong winds
Tolerant of most soil types provided they are well drained
Fan trained trees suitable for large tubs e.g. half barrels

Space required

See table below

Yield

See Table below

Time between planting  and harvesting

Maiden/New cuttings -  produce 1 year after planting

1- year old plants: Produce the season after planting

Planting Time

Bare root/wrapped root ball: Best - November to March (soil conditions permitting)
Plants supplied in pots:  Best - November to March 
Alternative - Any other time (soil conditions permitting)

Number of plants needed for pollination 1
How to plant - Open ground Prepare the ground in Autumn before planting, forking in a general fertiliser such as Growmore.

Space bushes 1.5m/5ft apart on all sides: space cordons 38cm/15" apart. Cordons will need staking with canes supported by wires.
How to plant - in containers Cordons  - container size minimum  container size 45cm/18" 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 tree)  is 5cm/2" below the top of the container. Fill the container with soil or a loam based compost to the original planting depth. Firm well and water in.

  Aftercare Open Ground - Yearly pruning will be necessary (see below). Apply a mulch of well rotted manure or compost once a year in  spring and a supplement of a potash rich inorganic fertiliser is helpful in February.
Containers -  Yearly pruning will be necessary (see below). Apply a mulch of well rotted manure or compost during the first  year in  spring and a supplement of a potash rich inorganic fertiliser is helpful in February. In subsequent years, it is best to carefully remove some of the soil from the container and replace it with fresh compost. Do this carefully so as not to damage the roots. Keep the containers well watered.
General - Protecting from birds with netting . Keep watered.

  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 cut 30cm/12" long pieces of mature wood just below a bud. Trim any unripe wood from the top of the cutting to just above a bud. Plant the cuttings to around half their length deep so the remaining buds are about 15cm/6" above the soil level. Transplant to a new position once the roots are well developed which takes about 1 year.

Layering also works in autumn and spring. Choose a low-growing cane and carefully bend it down to the ground. peg it down placing a rick on top to hold it in place if necessary and cover the part touching the ground with soil. Roots will grow from the stem creating a new redcurrant bush. Once it has taken hold in Spring, sever the rooted portion from the main plant.

Redcurrant Plants Dimensions

Expected Yield Per Mature Redcurrant Plant

Bush
Cordon
Height: 4m/12ft        
Height: +2m/6ft
Spread: 1.6m/5ft
Spread: 30cm/1ft
    Bush
Cordon
4-5kg/10-15lb
0.5-1kg/1-2lb
For a complete guide to and explanation of the various fruit tree forms click here

How to Prune Redcurrant Bushes - General

Cluster Leaves on stemLaterals usually have a set of cluster leaves at their base then spaced leaves all the way up their stems. Always ignore the leaf cluster when counting the leaves to prune back to e.g. the diagram below has been pruned back to 5 leaves on the right had lateral and 3 on the left hand lateral

Bush Cordons
After planting in winter, prune the main  leaders by half to an outward facing bud. remove any shoots or laterals  from the bottom 10cm/4" of the main stem and, if necessary, prune out any shoots which are crowding the centre to 1 bud.

Subsequent years - In Winter prune each main branch by half to an outward facing bud and cut laterals back to 1 bud of the current year's growth  unless they are needed to fill the framework of the bush. Prune back any wood which has died back to healthy wood. Once the bush has reached the desired height, prune main leader and branches to leave 8cm/3" of the previous summer's growth every winter. Remove any shoots or laterals  from the bottom 10cm/4" of the main stem as well as any suckers at the base of the plant. In June  prune all the new growth on laterals to 5 leaves of the current year's new growth.
Currant CordonAfter planting in winter, prune the main  leader by half to an outward facing bud and  prune all side shoots on the main stem to 1 bud. Remove any shoots or laterals  from the bottom 10cm/4" of the main stem. Cordons will need support by being tied to canes which are fixed to wires.

Subsequent years - In Winter prune the new growth on the main  leader by one quarter to an outward facing bud and prune all laterals/side shoots on the main stem to 1 or 2 buds. Remove any shoots or laterals  from the bottom 10cm/4" of the main stem as well as any suckers at the base of the plant. Once the leader has reached the desired height, prune back to 1 bud of the current year's new growth. In June  prune all laterals to 5 leaves of the current year's new growth. and once the leader has reached the desired height, prune back to 5 leaves of the current year's new growth.

Redcurrant 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.
Coral Spot - numerous coral pink spots on old or dead wood causing die-back of branches and sometimes destroying the whole plant. Cut out and burn infected wood to a point well past the infection. Paint wounds with a sealant.

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.

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