Redcurrants and whitecurrants are both a visual and culinary treat. Packed with vitamin C, use them to make 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.
How to grow redcurrants and whitecurrants
Grow redcurrants and whitecurrants in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Keep them well supplied with nutrients by adding a mulch of well-rotted manure or garden compost annually. A sunny spot is preferable, although they should still crop well in semi-shade.
Once established, redcurrants and whitecurrants are easy to maintain. Prune in winter, creating an open bowl shape that deters sawflies and helps ripen fruit. Pick the fruit as and when it ripens. They key thing is to keep the soil moist, especially when the fruits are forming. With minimum effort you’ll have a reliable and abundant crop, and just one or two bushes will provide pounds of juicy fruits for puddings, jellies and sauces.
More on growing currants:
How and where to plant currants
How to grow redcurrants and whitecurrants – preparing planting area with fertiliser for currants
Redcurrants and whitecurrants do best in moist but well-drained soils, in a sunny spot sheltered from cold winds. They can 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.
Make sure the top of their rootball is 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.
How to care for your currants
How to grow redcurrants and whitecurrants – pruning a currant bush
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.
Bear in mind that redcurrants and whitecurrants will grow too fast if overfed, so don’t spoil them. Water in dry spells but not while the fruits are ripening as this may cause them to split.
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.
Here, Monty Don explains how to prune redcurrants and gooseberries:
Growing currants: problem solving
Put netting over bushes to stop birds stripping all the fruit – make sure the net is pulled taut over a frame to prevent birds from becoming caught, but still check the net regularly.
How to harvest currants
How to grow redcurrants and whitecurrants – harvesting redcurrants
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.
How to store currants
Store unwashed bunches of currants in the fridge for up to five days. They freeze well.
Growing currants: 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, although 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.
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.
Great currant varieties to grow
How to grow redcurrants and whitecurrants – freshly picked redcurrants
- ‘Rovada’ – heavy crops of big berries in long trusses
- ‘Stanza’ – gives a large mid-season crop. Compact, so ideal for small gardens
- ‘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