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How to Prune Alpine Currant Hedges

Alpine currant, or Ribes alpinum, shrubs are mounding, dense and compact, making them ideal bushes for a hedge. The alpine currant is very hardy, tolerating winter temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit and is drought-tolerant. The shrub is widely adaptable, but it does require regular pruning to keep its shape and maintain its health. Pruning alpine currant hedges is easy, however, as long as you use the right technique and do your pruning at the right time of year.

Prune your alpine currant hedge in early spring, before new growth begins. You can prune the hedge again in mid-summer if needed.

Cut away all dead, diseased, crossing and intersectional branches first. The alpine currant is a dense shrub, so make sure you remove as much interior bulk as you can.

Allow the central leader, or trunk, to grow without pruning it until the alpine currant reaches its desired height. Then, you can trim back new growth to within two inches of the last pruning.

Trim your alpine currant hedges to give them a rounded appearance. This is better than a boxy shape, as the alpine currant has a naturally rounded shape.

Trim back any twigs or stems that are protruding from the main body of the alpine currant shrub. Cut back to a leaf node or bud when trimming. Angle the cut so that it slopes upward.

Tip

Right after planting a bare-root young alpine currant shrub, prune it to within six inches of the ground.

While pruning your alpine currant hedges, step back from the hedge periodically to inspect your work. Make sure that you’re achieving the desired shape and not missing any wayward growth that’s sticking out of the hedge.

Warning

Never prune your alpine currant hedges so that the top of the hedge is wider than the bottom. This will cause the top foliage to block sunlight from reaching the bottom branches and produce a “leggy” appearance.

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