Gooseberries are delicious cooked in pies or swirled into sweetened cream to make a gooseberry fool. They're easy to grow, and just a single bush will reward you with masses of berries for up to 15 years.


How to grow gooseberries:

Grow gooseberries in moist but free-draining, fertile soil, in full sun. Prune gooseberry bushes annually to maintain a goblet shape and mulch in autumn with well-rotted compost, manure or leaf mould.

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Alternatively, read on to learn all about growing gooseberries.

How to plant gooseberries

How to grow gooseberries - planting a bare-root gooseberry bush
Planting a bare-root gooseberry bush

Gooseberries aren’t fussy when it comes to soil type, but they do prefer it to be free draining and contain plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost. They prefer a location in full sun, especially for dessert types, but they're also very tolerant of shade.

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Spring or autumn is the best time to plant bare-root gooseberries. Space them 1.5m apart with a gap of 1.5m between the rows.

Gooseberries grow well in large containers of soil-based compost. Mulch the surface to keep weeds at bay.

Caring for gooseberry bushes

How to grow gooseberries - pruning a gooseberry bush
Pruning a gooseberry bush

Feed gooseberry bushes in early spring with sulphate of potash (follow packet instructions) and a generous mulch of well-rotted manure or compost. Water well during dry spells.

Pruning is easy. In July or August, simply cut back this season’s soft growth to two or three leaves from the base. To prevent mildew, keep the centre of the bush open.

Although usually grown as bushes, gooseberries can also be trained as single upright stems or ‘cordons’, as well as fans on walls or fences. This makes the fruit easier to pick from the thorny stems.

Harvesting gooseberries

How to grow gooseberries - harvesting ripe gooseberries
Harvesting ripe gooseberries

Most gooseberries are ready to pick in July or August, but to ensure good-sized berries, thin out the bunches of fruit in June when the fruits are the size of a pea. These thinnings make deliciously tart stewed fruit.

Storing gooseberries

Eat within a few days of picking or store them in the fridge for up to two weeks. Gooseberries freeze well.

Gooseberries: preparation and uses

Dessert varieties are delicious in fresh fruit salads. Ideally, you should pick and eat the berries on the same day.

Gooseberries can be cooked in pies or stewed to make purées, jams and chutneys. Simply top and tail them before cooking.

Gooseberries: problem solving

How to grow gooseberries - gooseberry sawfly larvae
Gooseberry sawfly larvae

Birds - Net gooseberry bushes when the fruit starts to ripen to protect them from birds.

Mildew - Gooseberry plants are susceptible to mildew. Choose resistant varieties and avoid planting in shallow, dry soil. Cut out affected shoots.

Gooseberry sawfly - From mid-spring, look out for gooseberry sawfly larvae, which will quickly strip a bush. Pick off and squish them or use a biological control.

Losing fruit - Gooseberries sometimes lose their fruit. Find out why they do this and how to rectify the problem, in our Quick Tips video, below.

Space-saving gooseberries

Fancy growing gooseberries but don't have much room? Then train them in a fan shape against a wall, fence or free-standing trellis.

Best gooseberry varieties to grow

How to grow gooseberries - gooseberry varieties to grow
Gooseberries come in green, red, orange, yellow, purple, white or black varieties
  • ‘Careless’ – large fruits that turn transparent when ripe
  • ‘Invicta’ – green cooker, big crops, mildew resistant
  • ‘Leveller’ – yellow dessert variety with delicious flavour
  • 'Pax' - sweet, red berries on almost spine-free stems
  • ‘Whinham’s Industry’ – large, sweet, red dessert berries; shade-tolerant and copes with heavy soil
  • ‘Whitesmith’ – a dessert/cooker with white fruits

Frequently asked questions

Can I move a gooseberry bush?

Gooseberries can be moved but this should be done in late winter to early spring, when the plant is still dormant. Dig a trench around and beneath the rootball, and lift the gooseberry bush out of the ground, with as much of the rootball intact as possible. Replant into its new position straightaway and water thoroughly, then water weekly until you spot signs of new growth. 

My gooseberry seems to be dying - what can I do?

A gooseberry that appears to be dying could be affected by powdery mildew. Symptoms appear in early summer as powdery greyish patches on the leaves, which turn brown with age. New shoots become stunted and twisted, and then die back. 

To prevent powdery mildew, prune the gooseberry into an open, goblet shape to increase air flow between the branches. Remove affected leaves as soon as you see them and clear any leaves that have fallen around the plant, as they can harbour the fungus over winter and reinfect the plant the following spring.