Currant fruits, native to Europe and Asia, grow on shrubs. Different species of the berries appear in different colours: red, pink, white and black. Currants are similar to gooseberries and jostaberries. The berries have a tart flavour, and in culinary uses, they are commonly an ingredient in currant wine. Whenever possible, give black currants perfect growing conditions to allow the fruits to reach their full potential.
Currants are best grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 5, thriving in locations that offer cool temperatures in summer and cold winters. Warm, Southern regions are not suitable for growing black currants outdoors, but they can grow easily in containers and greenhouse conditions that allow gardeners to exercise more control over the environment. Black currants are hardy to temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Black currant berries grow on deciduous shrubs that grow up to 5 feet high and wide. The foliage is pale green and susceptible to sunburn. Pink flowers appear on 1-year-old growth in early spring. In good growing conditions, the fruits ripen 70 to 100 days after the flowers first appear. Birds are attracted to black currants and eat them right off the bush if allowed.
Currant seeds must have cold temperatures to germinate. To grow new currant shrubs from seed, plant them in shallow cold trays for three to four months. Soil temperature should be just above freezing. Once seedlings appear, they grow rapidly and may be transplanted to the garden as soon as soil is warm enough to work. Black currant bushes are also propagated from hardwood cuttings taken from 1-year-old wood. Take cuttings in late winter when the shrub is dormant.
Plant currant bushes in a site where they receive full sunlight in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon. Currants need air circulation, so do not crowd plants. Bushes wilt when temperatures reach 29.4C and higher and they are very intolerant of salt. Water currants frequently until ripe fruits are harvested, when the plant's water intake goes down. Add compost to soil prior to planting currant bushes; the shrubs need rich soil for optimal growth.
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