Currant Bushes

Currant Bushes

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Currant plants are native to North America and are of the genus (Ribes). Other common names for currants are Johannisbeere, Ribes, Groseille, and Bes. The red, pink, black, and white currants belong to four European species. Currants are deciduous shrubs and are fast growing. They produce multiple stems and grow to about 5 feet tall. The annual growth is a single flush in the spring. Most currants are self-fertile but there are some cultivars that are partially self-sterile so having another plant in close proximity will produce more fruit. Fruits ripen 70 to 100 days after blossoming.

Currant plants prefer a location with morning sun, part shade in the afternoon, and good air circulation. The north sides of building are also excellent for currant. When soil temperatures exceed 85 degrees the plants will collapse. Currants prefer heavy soils that are rich in clay and have good moisture retention qualities. They will not tolerate alkaline or salty soils. An acceptable soil pH for currants is between 5.5 and 7.0. Currant fruits are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is a good source for potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K. They are used jellies, pies, sauces, and toppings. Currants also are used in wine making.

Prune currants when the plants are dormant in late winter or early spring. Remove any branches that lie along the ground and all dead and diseased branches. After the first year of growth remove all but 6 to 8 of the most vigorous stems. Pruning yearly and regularly will keep younger canes that will produce more fruit. A strong and healthy mature plant should have about 8 canes that bear fruit. Replace some of the older canes with younger canes for top production.