How to Grow New Currant Bushes For Free

, written by Jeremy Dore gb flag

Blackcurrants

It is around this time of the year that I like to start one of my favorite gardening activities – dreaming about next year!  As the garden starts to slow down for the approaching winter, catalogs appear through the letterbox at an ever increasing rate and looking through them helps distract my attention from dismal weather and lack of daylight.  I particularly like pictures promising huge harvests of fruit from perfectly pruned bushes.  The only problem is the cost of buying in the new bushes and trees.  But there is one type of fruit that comes to the rescue... currant bushes.

Currants are the forgotten treasure of productive gardens.  If you had to weigh up the amount of harvest against the effort, space and expense of many edible plants then I think currents would come near the top of the list. Black currant, red currant and white currant bushes all yield copious clusters of berries which are rich in vitamin C as well as having a high pectin content which makes them ideal for jams and jellies.

Redcurrants

Their fruit are so flavorsome and require so little work that I think every garden should include a currant bush.  OK, so I am rather biased: I have fond memories of blackcurrant and apple crumble with custard, redcurrant jelly and fruit compote that I can still taste from my childhood.  Plus I love the smell of currant bushes and the berries freeze very well for use right through winter.   But there is more: they are one of the few productive plants that grow well in semi-shaded or damp conditions which makes them ideal for those unproductive corners of a garden where other plants struggle.  As long as the soil is reasonably good quality and not alkaline they will usually do well.

In the catalogs currants are usually bought bare-rooted to be planted during the dormant season from late autumn/fall to early spring.  There are wonderful varieties to choose from but once you have one thriving bush (or know someone who has) you don’t even need to pay for the rest as they are so simple to propagate.  Take 12" (30cm) cuttings from the one-year old stems and you have all you need for new plants.  Simply stick them into the ground in early spring and let nature do the rest.

These cuttings are often made when pruning the plant, which is commonly done in early spring.  Although they have productive lives of ten or more years, currants need to have the older branches thinning out to ‘open up’ the bush in order to get the best crop.  One year old branches are left as they will bear fruit next year.  Some two and three-year old branches should also remain and the rest are pruned back, especially those that might touch the ground since mosaic disease can spread this way.

Currant bushes

Last year I took four such cuttings and stuck them into a fairly shady part of my garden with not-the-best soil.  To my delight three of the four took root, one even producing enough crop to make a delicious dessert when stewed with apple.  Having spent their first year rooting, they are now ready for transplanting to their final position in my garden – three healthy plants and for no more effort than pruning the bush they came from.  So, whilst I love looking through the catalogs at their wonderful fruit collections I also have to smile at the three new bushes of one of my favorite fruits which cost me absolutely nothing!

[NB: In America, currant bushes were banned for many years as they can host white pine blister rust which affects the timber industry.  Although the federal ban was lifted in 1966 some states still prohibit cultivation of black currants]

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Comments

 
"I also love currants. I used to have two fabulous red currant bushes that produced tons of fruit as well as three black currant bushes that I turned into wonderful fruity and powerful blackcurrant wine."
Pumpking on Friday 14 November 2008
"I am new to currents this is my second Year and only have two bushes but after reading your articul l will have many more in the future as for using them in cooking a tried and tested receipy or two would be helpful."
Peaches on Tuesday 25 November 2008
"Lidl's recently had currants and gooseberry bushes for sale for just a few quid,on a promotion that was supposed to be on all week. I duly went down there about lunchtime expecting to buy a few of each, but they had all gone. When I asked the manager he said it was crazy people were buying them by the dozen and they all went in three hours."Perhaps we should have rationed them out" he said. I went back several more times that week but there were no more to be had so a few customers had got them all and It left me wondering how many of those lucky but greedy people will actually bother planting and growing them."
David on Thursday 27 November 2008
"'Peaches' - most of my recipes for currants involve gently stewing them with a little sugar and perhaps apple or gooseberry for about 20 minutes. You only need to add a tablespoon or so of water as long as the heat is not up too high and you have a lid on the saucepan. Then you can add crumble toppings, or use them as a sauce with yoghurts, ice-cream etc. One of the great things about currants is that they cook just as well from frozen so you can keep a good supply going for many months."
Jeremy Dore on Friday 5 December 2008
"I guess a green thumb I do not have. You said how easy it is to propagate currents, I just tried to root five plants. I put them in a big flower pot, misted them, babyed them and they died. They got leaves on them but no roots before they died. Robin"
Robin Hegge on Sunday 21 February 2010
"Hi Robin, Sorry to hear that they didn't work out for you. Perhaps you could try using a cutting of a younger stem, or from a more vigorous parent bush. Gardening is often hit and miss until you learn what works for you and your climate and trying cuttings costs almost nothing. Good luck!"
Jeremy Dore on Sunday 21 February 2010
"Hello. I do not call a gardener too skillful, but the culture I love black currant. I made a small plantation, for fun hobby. Here you can see some pictures: http://ro.netlog.com/Dancoacazul/photos/setid=210371"
Dancoacazul on Friday 9 April 2010
"I live on an acre of land in Wasilla, Alaska and have many wild bushes...some mature most are small and new, how can I help these bushes flourish and produce more?"
Shawna on Thursday 5 August 2010
"Black currents make really really GREAT WINE too."
Don Klaahsen on Tuesday 28 September 2010
"Is a fertilizer needed for red or black currant? which one?"
Lillian on Thursday 14 October 2010
"I'm not aware of a difference in fertilising red or black currants. In general they only require some organic compost as a mulch or dug into the surface of the soil (so as not to disturb the roots) in winter. More important for productivity is to prune them as described above."
Jeremy Dore on Thursday 14 October 2010
"which month do the black currents get there fruit on the bush i have two bushes my self in my garden the bushes are growing fast but i have no fruit on as yet x"
joanne on Monday 4 July 2011
"Black currants can fruit from any time between June (my new blackcurrant bush has just produced it's first small harvest) and autumn, depending on the variety of the bush and your weather (we had a particularly warm spring this year which is why I got such an early start to my harvest)."
Jeremy Dore on Tuesday 5 July 2011
"We have a very healthy four year old red current bush in Arizona. It has grown like gangbusters but has never produced fruit. Any suggestions?"
Sharon James on Saturday 23 July 2011
"i got my bushes last year and i got no fruit but been in my garden today and i have fruit starting already which is verry good looking forward to eating it but what im wondering is have i getting fruit early than normal is it because i live in the uk and we had a good winter jeremy"
joanne on Monday 9 April 2012
"My black currant bush is at least 10 years old and blooms profusely but has never produced berries. Can anyone tell me why? My mom's black currant bush used to produce well in the same area and I have red currants in abundance, just no black."
Cora on Sunday 12 August 2012
"cora have you got your current bushes in pots because if you have try changing size of the pots and also as you will now green fly are a pain at the moment with the weather spray bush feed your currents every 2 weeks hope your current picks up for you "
joanne on Monday 13 August 2012
"Hi Joanne, no currents not in pots, in ground, Sudbury Ontario, never fed them, don't notice any green fly. So I will try feeding next year. What should I use? Never fed the red currents in 10 years and they are bumper crop every year. Thanks very much."
Cora on Wednesday 15 August 2012
"hi cora Westland Sulphate of Potash Fruit and Flower Food its verry good for your fruit bushes hopfully next year you will get a good crop on your bush you can buy it on line at amazon i will keep my fingers crossed for you next year"
joanne on Thursday 16 August 2012
"thx very much, Joanne, I will let you know through this blog next year."
Cora on Thursday 16 August 2012
"you are verry welcome cora."
joanne on Thursday 16 August 2012
"You should be planting the cuttings in the fall, not spring."
sara on Wednesday 27 March 2013
"I have had curant bushes for the last 5...years! nothing??? drives me nuts. the little flowers come (lots) they go green teeny berry starting next 2 weeeks all gone grrr?????"
mari on Saturday 13 July 2013
"Can you saying anything about what affects the length of the trusses. (Long is easy harvesting, short in clusters near the fruit buds is a pain !). Are they determined by variety and/or pruning ?"
Rob on Friday 2 August 2013
"do blackcurrants go red before they go black, mine have bee red for ages and I'm beginning to think I have a recurrent by mistake"
sue smith on Saturday 27 June 2015
"Very a nice."
BRONISLAW on Saturday 7 November 2015
"hello, I work in a remote radar station in king Salmon air force base but my home is in willow, Alaska. I took some cuttings from red current berries off the bushes here in King salmon on August 28, should I keep them inside the house inside a glass of water?"
alan stonefield on Thursday 28 July 2016
"just purchased 12 blsck currant bushes (dry root) and planted. 8 are doing good, 4 look dead. dug up the 4 dead looking one to replant, 3 of them had little blonde amd hairy roots. Cut them off at ground level (2 weeks ago, no sign of live yet. I have been told to cut them all off at ground level so all the nutrents will go to developing the roots and make a stronger plant. Should I cut them all off at ground level. Thanks and Semper Fi"
James Weakley on Saturday 13 May 2017
"I only have a small garden so planting bushes isn't an option, so I use pots, 2-3 liter ones) Are these suitable for growing in pots ?"
Derrick Brown on Monday 9 October 2017

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