Caring for currants — with our tips for a high-yield harvest

In addition to the size of the grapes and berries, the range of currants is differentiated according to fruit color and ripening time. There are red, white and black currants. All Ribes are self-pollinating. Therefore, you only need one plant. However, a second variety can be helpful to increase yields and thus extend the currant season. Plant different varieties and experience the diversity. The main focus when buying should be robustness and taste. Below you will find the most common varieties, which vary depending on the season and are supplemented by others.

Currants belong to the gooseberry family and have a variety of regional names. In northern Germany they are called Ahlbeere, in the south as Träuble and in Switzerland and South Tyrol as Ribiseli. The name currant is due to the timing of the ripening period, because the fruits are ready for harvest from St. John’s Day (June 24th). The robust soft fruit can be compared to gooseberries, as a bush or stem in your own garden or in large containers on the balcony and terrace for many years.

The different varieties vary in fruit color, berry size and ripening time. Black currants are called cassis and have a different taste than white or red currants. When the yield is high, there are a variety of recipes for processing the treasures. Sufficient sun, optimal soil conditions and regular pruning are essential for a good yield. Find out how varied the berries are and with little care. Early varieties ripen as early as June and can thus be enjoyed together with strawberries and raspberries.

Botanical name: Ribes rubrum, Ribes nigrum, Ribes sativa
Other names: Cassis (black), currant, groseille, sea turkey, currant
Use: immediate consumption and processing (red fruit jelly, jam, juice, etc.)
Origin: forests of western and northern Europe, Siberia, North America
Flowering period: April to May, inconspicuous, greenish-brownish
Harvest period: late June to late August
Special features: The hardy shrubs are mainly popular as soft fruit, but also ideal as a sweet fruit for small gardens or balconies. Especially the small berries of the black varieties have a high vitamin C content. Ornamental forms with decorative flowers enrich the garden in spring. They are extremely grateful and easy to care for.

In which location do currants feel most comfortable

Currants are undemanding shrubs that develop best in warm, partially shaded locations and have the highest yield. In the shade or in the blazing sun, the trees are not as productive and more susceptible. Sufficient space and brightness are important for the development, so it is important to choose the location carefully. Deep, humus-rich soil with good drainage is also recommended, as waterlogging is not tolerated. The pH of the soil can range from 5.5 to 6.5. Light, sandy soils must be improved with potting soil, and adding sand to heavy soils helps to avoid standing water. Even if you don’t have a garden, you don’t have to do without Ribes. Containers with a soil volume of 30 to 50 liters and sufficient water drainage are best suited.

Our gardening tip: The shadier the location, the later the berries ripen, are smaller and contain more acid. In a sunny location and light soil, the wood is not as vigorous and productive. In the right place, currants form strong shoots and bear lots of fruit year after year.

Planting currants: How do I best plant ribes

The berry bushes can be planted almost all year round, provided the ground is not frozen. The best time to plant currants is in spring or late summer, when new roots are formed most quickly. Plant the currant bush in the garden in the ground or in large pots or buckets immediately after purchase. Before planting, loosen the soil thoroughly and remove all weeds. Then dig a planting hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball. Make sure that the fruit plant is thoroughly watered before planting and that you use high-quality potting soil for planting currants. First put this substrate in the planting hole and then position the berry bush so that it is level with the surface. Fill the cavity between the planting hole and the roots with a mixture of excavation and potting soil and press it down lightly. Finally, add organic garden fertilizer to the soil and pour in 10 liters of water. A thin layer of mulch can be used to prevent evaporation.

Our gardening tip: If there is little space, the stem forms are suitable, because depending on the variety, a shrub can take up more than a square meter of space. If the stocks are too dense, harvesting is more difficult, the plants produce fewer fruits and the individual berries are smaller. So plan enough space.

How do I water my currants correctly

It is important that you water the trees, especially in the first year after planting and in dry years. The berry bushes are shallow-rooted and therefore need even soil moisture, especially during flowering and after fruit set, but standing water must be avoided. Make sure that you always give the water directly to the root and not over the leaf. Furthermore, generous watering at longer intervals is more effective than frequent small amounts. Currant plants in pots need a little more finesse when watering. Here, too, water must never remain in the saucer or the plant must never dry out completely.

Our gardening tip: A layer of mulch reduces evaporation and minimizes weed growth. Rotted compost or special mulching material is suitable for mulching. Fresh lawn clippings mold quickly and are therefore unsuitable.

Fertilize currants: How do I fertilize the bushes properly

Currant bushes need an even supply of nutrients for growth, flowering and good fruit set. Fertilize your currants for the first time as soon as they sprout in early spring. Use a special fertilizer for berries for this. This contains organic components that work for months and slowly release the nutrients and activate soil life. Even soil moisture is important for the effect of the berry fertilizer, so watering may be necessary. Directly after the harvest, additional fertilization with organic natural fertilizer is recommended. This promotes the formation of new fruit wood. Make sure, however, that the additional fertilization takes place by the beginning of September so that the wood goes into winter well mature. The best time to fertilize currants is after a rain,

Our gardening tip: Spreading manure or compost in autumn also serves as a slow-acting fertilizer and natural winter protection.

How do I cut my currants correctly

Regular pruning is largely responsible for yield and fruit size. Younger shoots in particular bear fruit well and it is therefore important that the old wood and weak shoots are removed regularly. Basically, the older the wood is, the fewer blossoms form. In the case of bushes, cut off the two to three oldest main shoots close to the ground immediately after harvesting. In addition, long side shoots are shortened by a third. This gives the rods more light and develops well until the next year. New side shoots are formed quickly and the plant continues to grow harmoniously.

In the case of stems, leave three to four strong shoots that are harmoniously and evenly distributed as a crown. Weak and laterally growing branches are cut off and the leading shoots are also shortened by a third.

If you have not cut your berries at the optimum time in summer, it is still possible to remove the sprouts that are not required until the end of winter. The right pruning in summer has advantages: Older shoots are removed, one-year-old side shoots are stimulated to sprout and soon the bushes will again be reliably bearing lots of delicious berries.
Our gardener’s tip: black currants form the most fruit on annual canes. White and red currants fruit best on two- and three-year-old shoots. When cutting, a small cone (1 to 2 cm) can remain, from which new shoots develop, which become fruit wood the following year.

How to care for and winter my currant

The right location, regular pruning and an even supply of water and nutrients are particularly important for a rich harvest. Chop as little as possible as the roots are fairly shallow and easily damaged. A mulch layer made of organic material is good to keep moisture in the soil better and to minimize weed growth. In the case of trunks, a stake is recommended for safety. Secure the crown by tying it with special tying material. To protect against birds, nets can be placed over the currant plants shortly before they are ripe, white currants are almost completely spared from bird damage. Planted in the ground, the fruit tree is very hardy. With currants in pots, the containers are protected from excessive frost, but remain outside all winter.

Which currant varieties are there

In addition to the size of the grapes and berries, the range of currants is differentiated according to fruit color and ripening time. There are red, white and black currants. All Ribes are self-pollinating. Therefore, you only need one plant. However, a second variety can be helpful to increase yields and thus extend the currant season. Plant different varieties and experience the diversity. The main focus when buying should be robustness and taste. Below you will find the most common varieties, which vary depending on the season and are supplemented by others. What pests and diseases can the currant get?

Currants are vigorous, perennial shrubs. Depending on the variety, they have different levels of susceptibility to pests and diseases.

American currant or gooseberry powdery mildew

Fungal infection occurs especially in sunny weather. The mealy-white coating is on the shoot tips, leaves and berries. The affected parts turn brown, the foliage dries up and the fruit rots. Preventative can be strengthened with herbal treatment. Consistent pruning and removal of affected shoots are necessary.

leaf fall disease

After cold and wet phases, leaf fall disease occurs. The brown spots on the foliage are fluid, and yellow leaf edges are characteristic. Severe infestation leads to leaf fall. You cannot fight this disease. As a preventative measure, it is important that the currant plants are cut regularly and are not too close to other plants. In addition, even soil moisture, fertilization and strengthening with plant treatment help. In order to get good yields over the next few years, it is important to carefully remove the affected parts to prevent further infection.


Young shoots are often attacked by aphids when they sprout. As soon as you have noticed the aphid infestation, it is advisable to shower the plants with a jet of water. Strengthen the plants with organic active agents and ensure optimal site conditions. These measures often help to prevent the aphids from spreading further.


FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions:

What is meant by «trickling» in soft fruit?

The berries are arranged in grapes and in the best case are lined up very densely. During the «trickling», individual blossoms fall off, especially in the lower third, and the clusters are loose in structure and not that long. The tendency to trickle down depends on the variety. Unfavorable weather conditions during flowering and insufficient pollination by insects can also be the cause. A lack of pruning, late frost and drought also promote the fall of the flowers.

What is the difference in cultivation between bushes and stems?

Currant care is identical for bushes and trunks. Harvesting and pruning the currant high stem is easy on the back because you don’t have to work on the ground. When growing as a shrub, the yield is higher.

What is the difference between red and black currants?

In terms of vitamin C content, blackcurrants are a real vitamin C bomb. The content of the small black berry is five times higher than that of the red varieties (approx. 170 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fresh fruit). Thus, the local fruit can keep up with the goji berries and offers a good alternative from your own garden.

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