If you’re interested in growing a currant bush in your Pacific Northwest home, then you’re in luck. We wrote this guide specifically for you. We are always here to help.
Choosing A Site for Growing Your Currant Plant
Currants and gooseberries both prefer a sunny location but can tolerate part shade. The soil needs to be well drained and contain organic matter. It is ideal for the pH to range between 5.5-7.0. This is the typical pH range of the Willamette Valley naturally. Since currants and gooseberries are hosts to White Pine Blister Rust, it is not wise to plant these if you have five-needled pines in your landscape.
Amend the soil with compost. Space the gooseberries and red or white currants 3-4 feet apart in rows. Black currants are more vigorous so spacing them 4-5 feet apart would be wise. Rows can be 7-10 feet apart. Dig a hole large enough to fit the spread of roots. Add a well-balanced slow release fertilizer to the fill soil. Press down on the soil around the plants to avoid air bubbles and water thoroughly. At planting time, prune all branches to a length of 4-6 inches. This will stimulate new growth. Mulch around the plants before the summer arrives with 2 inches of compost, sawdust or other organic materials.
Remove all the blossoms the first year after planting. This will allow your plant to become more stable. Fertilizer should be applied each February and again in the late spring each year. Currants and gooseberries can also be trained as a fan shape on a trellis. This is attractive and will help with small spaces.
Pruning a Currant Bush
Pruning is best done in the winter months when the plants are dormant.
Red and white currants and gooseberries produce their fruit on 2-3 year old wood. Remove any stems that are older than 4 years old. Black currants produce best on 1 year old wood. Strong 1 year old canes and 2-3 year old canes that have an abundance of strong 1 year old branches are the most productive. When you prune, keep a total of 10-12 canes per mature bush- about half should be 1 year old shoots. Make your pruning cuts close to the ground.
Pick black and white currants as well as gooseberries as an individual fruit. If you try to do this with red currants, you will ruin the fruit, so it is best to pick these in clusters.
Looking for where to get a currant bush? If you live in the Portland or Vancouver Metropolitan area, be sure to stop by our Portland garden center. We’ll always be available to answer your questions.