Blackcurrants

Family: Grossulariaceae

Countries: Asia, Balearic Islands, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Siberia, Sweden, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Wales, Yugoslavia

Blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) are hardy deciduous shrubs that thrive in warm and sunny, sheltered sites.  These naturally bushy plants will grow in almost any well-drained soil.  Blackcurrants enjoy regular watering throughout the summer months; these fruits will tolerate a wetter soil through the growing season, providing the ground isn’t too wet during the winter months.  These productive fruits can be grown in full sunshine or partial shade.

Blackcurrants form bushy shrubs.  When planting blackcurrants, do remember to leave sufficient space between plants.  If you’re growing more than one blackcurrant plant, allow 1.5m (5″) between plants; although, if you’re growing blackcurrant varieties with a particularly small, compact habit, these blackcurrant varieties can be planted a little closer together.

In the UK, the ideal time to plant blackcurrants is from October to April.  Weed the area before planting.  Delay planting if the ground is frozen – you could always ‘hold’ your blackcurrant by temporarily planting in a container of peat-free compost outdoors and then moving your blackcurrant to its final destination the following week.

Mulch around your newly planted blackcurrant plants using homemade garden compost or good quality peat-free compost.  Immediately after planting your blackcurrant, take a sharp pair of secateurs and cut back every single one of your plant’s shoots back to just 5cm (2″) above soil level.  This may seem harsh and drastic, but honestly this destructive looking pruning will do your plant the world of good.  The stems you remove will make perfect propagation material; allowing you to easily increase your stock, or grow extra plants for friends and family.

Blackcurrant plants produce fruit on ripened stems that are at least two years old.  Younger blackcurrant stems tend to be more productive than older stems.  To maintain a healthy and productive plant with continuous active growth, it’s important to remove a proportion of your blackcurrant’s older stems every year.  Once your blackcurrant is three years old, every winter remove a number of your plant’s oldest stems, cutting the stems back to just 5cm (2″) above ground.  Remove up to a third of your plant’s oldest stems each year, as this will encourage the production of fresh new growth and will maintain your plant’s vitality and productivity.

I always recommend purchasing bare-root plants, as they are more economical and better for the environment.  Buying bare-root plants is a great way to purchase top quality blackcurrants.

In spring and summertime, remember to water your blackcurrants regularly during periods of drought.  Mulch around your plants with homemade garden compost or a good quality peat-free compost, at least once a year.

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