Redcurrants

Blackcurrants, redcurrants and whitecurrants – Grow Guide

Read our practical guide to growing a crop of tasty currants – perfect for jams and desserts.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do not Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do not Harvest in September

Do not Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Average Yield

    4-5kg per bush

  • Spacing

    1.5m apart

    1.8m between rows

    Depth level with or deeper than rootball

Overview

These juicy berries, packed with vitamin C, are a real treat. Make them into summer puddings or serve freshly picked with ice cream. With their stems dripping with jewel-bright fruits, they make an attractive shrub for any garden border.

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Pick currants on a dry day, as wet currants will quickly go mouldy.

Growing currants through the year

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Planting

Despite being closely related, redcurrants and whitecurrants have a different growth habit to blackcurrants. All three will tolerate most soils, apart from wet or poorly drained. They prefer a sunny spot that’s sheltered from cold winds, but redcurrants and whitecurrants will cope with partial shade.

Bare-root plants can be planted between October and early March in mild spells. Pot-grown plants can go in any time. Prepare the soil by digging in organic matter, such as well-rotted garden compost. Add a general-purpose fertiliser (follow pack instructions) to the planting hole. Blackcurrants like to go in deep – 6cm deeper than the soil mark on the stem.

Redcurrants and whitecurrants prefer to have the top of their rootball level with the soil surface. Firm down the soil around the roots and water well. Leave 1.5m between the plants and 1.8m between rows.

After planting, cut back the stems of blackcurrants to one bud above ground level to encourage new growth. If planted in summer, wait until winter before doing this.

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Tending the crop

Feed plants with pelleted chicken manure in spring, then cover the roots with a 5cm mulch of garden compost to hold in moisture and suppress weeds.

While blackcurrants are hungry plants, redcurrants and whitecurrants will grow too fast if overfed. Water in dry spells, but not while the fruits are ripening as this may cause the fruits to split.

Blackcurrants fruit on young wood. For the first two years, remove any weak or whippy shoots; after that, remove a quarter of the two-year-old (grey) stems and older (black) ones in winter, cutting back to the base.

Redcurrants and whitecurrants fruit on old wood. In winter, cut back old or diseased stems; at the end of June, prune new growth back to two buds, to keep the plant compact.

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Harvesting currants

Harvest whole trusses, rather than individual berries. They’re ready to pick when they’ve coloured up but are still firm and shiny. Pick currants on a dry day, as wet currants will quickly go mouldy.

Storing currants

Store unwashed bunches of currants in the fridge for up to five days. Blackcurrants, redcurrants and whitecurrants all freeze well.

Preparation and uses

To prepare currants, strip them from the stalks by pushing a fork down the length of each bunch.

Sprigs of currants make a pretty garnish, alhough you may need a sprinkle of sugar to take the edge of their tartness. Cook them in pies and sauces or make into jams and jellies.

Troubleshooting

Put netting over bushes to stop birds stripping all the fruit. Blackcurrant gall midge causes leaves to dry and drop off. Control it with an insecticidal soap.

Propagating currants

It’s easy to propagate currants from hardwood cuttings taken during winter. Prepared lengths of stem will root readily when simply planted into the soil. Plants raised from cuttings will fruit in three years.

Secateurs

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Currant varieties to try

Blackcurrants

  • ‘Ben Nevis’ – pick the well-flavoured fruits in late July. Frost- and mildew-resistant
  • ‘Ben Sarek’ – a compact plant with a heavy crop in July. Resistant to mildew, frost and leaf-curling midge

Redcurrants

  • ‘Rovada’ – heavy crops of big berries in long trusses
  • ‘Stanza’ – gives a large mid-season crop. Compact, so ideal for small gardens

Whitecurrants

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  • ‘Blanka’ – the heaviest cropping whitecurrant, with long trusses of large, pearly white berries
  • ‘White Versailles’ – early, heavy crop of large, sweet berries in long trusses