How to care for red currant bushes

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How to care for red currant bushes
The red currant fruit can be made into jam. (red currant image by Leonid Nyshko from Fotolia.com)

The red currant is a fast-growing deciduous shrub. Red currants grow best in a cool growing site in full sun to partial shade. In other zones, red currant plants can be grown in containers and moved indoors when the weather becomes too hot or too cold. Red currant plants produce fruit in grapelike clusters, with some plants producing more than 4.54 kg (10 lb) of fruit. The red currant fruit can be made into juice, jam and purée. You can increase your red currant's fruit production by properly caring for your plant.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Organic mulch
  • Pruning shears
  • Fertiliser, 10-10-10
  • Plant scissors

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Apply mulch around the base of the red currant bush to prevent weeds, maintain moisture and help keep the soil cool. Use organic mulch materials such as straw, wood chips or grass clippings.

  2. 2

    Prevent fungal diseases by encouraging airflow around the red currant bush. Trim back or prune nearby plants and bushes that block airflow to the red currant.

  3. 3

    Fertilise the red currant bush in the spring, when the buds have begun to swell. Use a balanced 10-10-10 fertiliser and follow the fertiliser package directions. Choose a fertiliser that uses potassium sulphate rather than potassium chloride, as red currants are sensitive to chloride.

  4. 4

    Promote fruit production by cutting off the tips of "strigs" while in flower. A strig is a mass of flowers growing off a main stem.

  5. 5

    Water the red currant bush often from the flowering period until the fruit harvest. The soil should stay moist but not soggy. After harvesting, the red currant bush will only need watering if the soil becomes very dry.

  6. 6

    Prune the red currant bush in winter. During the first year of growth, cut to the ground all but four healthy stems. Every winter thereafter, cut back all but three or four of the newest stems, leaving the older-growth stems. After the fourth growing season, remove the 4-year-old stems. Maintenance pruning involves removing 4-year-old stems, unhealthy or broken stems, and all but three or four of the newest stems.

Tips and warnings

  • A properly pruned red currant bush contains nine to 12 healthy shoots that are 1, 2 and 3 years old.
  • Do not prune the red currant bush after the spring growth has started.

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