When planting currants, there are a few things to keep in mind: From the location to the right time to planting instructions, we share our tips.
Currants (Ribes) are good as a garden hedge, as a border around vegetable patches or the compost heap, or simply planted in a berry patch. They are adapted to our climate and therefore thrive quite well almost everywhere. Nevertheless, they naturally have some preferences with regard to their location, soil conditions, and care. With the following information, you are well-prepared to start harvesting plenty of delicious currants in your own garden soon.
Planting currants: the choice of location
Although currants also thrive in partial shade, we advise you instead to plant them in a sunny spot. Not only will the harvest be bigger, but the more sun your plant gets, the sweeter the fruit will be. For those who have only a semi-shaded place available, the white currants (Ribes sativa) are recommended: They are anyway a little sweeter and sometimes even grow better in partial shade. Currant plants do best in medium-heavy, nutrient-rich soil that holds moisture well. A slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 6 is ideal. Currants are also shallow rooted. This means that they do not require deep soils and can be planted in low beds or large tubs with a height of about 40 cm. However, due to the fact that their roots do not go deep, currants need more frequent watering during drought. This is especially true if they are in a sunny place. However, a layer of mulch often helps to keep the soil moist.
The right location for currants in a nutshell:
- Sunny, but partial shade is also okay
- medium, nutrient-rich, moist, slightly acidic soil
- Soil does not need to be deep, so plant troughs or low beds are also well suited
When to plant currants
Currants, like most berry bushes and fruit trees, are best planted in the autumn. Then the currants can benefit well from the winter moisture and sprout quickly and well the next year. However, container plants, as they are mostly sold today, can theoretically be planted throughout the year. Then you should only make sure that the plant does not dry out in the first few weeks. Nevertheless, if planting in autumn is not possible, we advise you to plant currants in early spring because at this time of year, the soil is also nice and moist.
Planting currants: step-by-step
Once you have found a suitable location, you can start planting. To ensure that this process is crowned with success, we have summarised all the important steps below.
1. Prepare the location
Before planting, you should prepare the soil for growing currants and also carefully remove weeds around the future planting hole and its surroundings. This is because once persistent weeds such as goutweed, couch grass, stinging nettles or field bindweed grow into the rootstock of the currants, they are difficult to remove.
2. Dig the planting hole
Then dig a generous planting hole about twice the size and depth of the root ball of currant plant. You should loosen the soil underneath and next to it a little with a digging fork so that the roots can penetrate better. Then add some compost mixed with topsoil back into the planting hole.
3. Prune the plant
The most beautiful and vigourous five to six shoots, ideally growing in different directions, are shortened to about one-third of the existing shoot length. Make sure that afterwards there are still about four buds on all shoots. You should always cut above an outward facing bud. If there are more than five or six shoots, the rest are cut off a few centimetres above the ground. This pruning, which at first seems quite radical, stimulates budding and thus the development of a magnificent shrub.
4. Planting your currants
Immerse the root ball of the currant for a while until it is nice and moist. The plant is then placed in the planting hole, with red varieties (Ribes rubrum) planted a few centimetres deeper than they were previously in the pot (container) or nursery. Black varieties (Ribes nigrum) should be planted a whole hand width deeper than before. This gives rise to many new shoots from the rootstock, which are very important in black currants. Indeed, these only bear fruit on the one-year shoots.
Fill the planting hole with nutrient-rich soil so that the shallow-rooted plants find sufficient nutrients in the upper soil layers. A suitable choice is our peat-free Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost. In the case of several currant bushes next to each other, a distance of 1.3 to 1.8 m between red and white currants – depending on their vigour – or 2 m each between black currants has proven to be effective. At this distance, the bushes are well ventilated and less susceptible to fungal diseases. If you plant several rows, there should be about 2 to 2.5 m of space between the rows to allow for good pruning, harvesting and watering of the shrubs.
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Lightly tread down the soil and water the shrub well. Lastly, cover the soil surface with a mulch layer of grass clippings, straw, farmyard manure or bark mulch. This helps keep the soil moist and provides additional nutrients.
Planting currants: our summary
- Free the soil from weeds
- Dig planting hole and loosen soil next to and under it with a digging fork
- Cut back the strongest 5 to 6 shoots to about a third of their length, but only as far as necessary so that about 4 buds remain; cut off the remaining shoots close to the ground
- Immerse the root ball in water for about half a minute until it is well saturated with water
- Plant red and white currants a few centimetres deeper than in the original pot and black currants a hand’s width deeper than before
- Fill with organic soil, press down the soil and water generously
- Cover soil surface with mulch (bark mulch in the case of calcareous soils, otherwise grass clippings, straw, manure, etc.)
Now just make sure that the plants do not dry out until they are well rooted. In the next few years, it is especially important to prune currants regularly. Also, be sure to fertilise your currant plant and water during drought. That is all it takes for your currant plant to reward you with sweet and tart fruit year after year.