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How to Grow Currants

Currants are small white, red or black berries that grow on small shrubs. They are very hardy and easy to grow. Currants make excellent pies, jams, jellies, preserves or wines. Because they are self-pollinating, it is only necessary to grow one currant bush to produce fruit. Plant currants in early spring as a single specimen plant, in groups, or in mixed or pure hedgerows. Currants are native to North America.

Grow currants in part to full sun. If you live in areas with very hot summers, plant currants in partial shade or on a north or northeast-facing slope. They prefer cool, moist and well-drained soil. Avoid planting them in hot, dry sites or sites that have poorly drained, wet soils. Plant them in an area that has good air movement and circulation to guard against fungal diseases.

Prepare the planting site. Spread a two inch layer of compost on the surface of the planting area. Dig this into the soil by turning it over with a garden spade. Rake the surface of the soil smooth when finished.

Dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball. Use a garden digging fork to loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole. Back fill the hole so that when planted the currant will be growing slightly lower than it was in its nursery pot.

Cut back the young shoots of the currant bush so they are 6-10 inches long.

Plant currant bushes in prepared planting holes four to five feet apart in rows six to eight feet apart. When planting, place them so that they are set slightly deeper into the ground than they were in their nursery pot. Back fill the hole with soil and firm down the surface gently but firmly with your foot.

Water newly planted currant bushes by laying a hose near the base of the plant with a slow trickle of water. Leave the hose for 60 to 90 minutes, until the soil is moistened to the depth of the root ball.

Mulch the area around the bush with two to four inches of straw, wood chips or sawdust. Replenish mulch to the same depth every spring.

Prune currants in early spring, before new growth begins, starting the first spring after planting. The first year you prune, remove all but six to eight healthy shoots. The second year you prune, leave four to five one-year-old shoots and three to four two-year-old shoots. Every spring thereafter, prune so the plant contains three to four shoots that are one-year-old, three or four that are two years old, and three or four that are three years old. Remove any canes older than that and also remove all but the strongest three or four brand new canes.


Plant rust-resistant varieties of currants, especially if you have white bark pine trees growing nearby. White pine and currants both suffer from white pine blister rust disease, which affects both plants concurrently. However, both white pine trees and currants need to be present for the disease to manifest itself. Rust-resistant varieties of currants will halt the spread of white pine blister rust disease.

Check with your County Agricultural Extension Agent to see if it is legal to grow currants in your state. Cultivation was outlawed by the Federal government in the early 20th century, but the law was repealed in 1966. However, at least 16 states currently prohibit the growth and cultivation of currants because of the continued prevalence of white pine blister rust disease.

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