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How to Prune Red Currant Bushes

Updated July 20, 2017

Red currant bushes are fruitful additions to landscapes. Currants make excellent jelly and are also food for songbirds. Red currant bushes, although fairly easy to care for, do require pruning. Learning to prune a currant bush isn't difficult, but it may take practice. Prune in the late fall or very early spring, while the bush is still dormant.

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  1. Fill the bucket 1/2 full of water. Add 1 tbsp of disinfectant (such as bleach) to the water.

  2. Dip the shears in the water to disinfect them. Disinfect the shears every time you cut a diseased branch from the currant bush. Also, disinfect the shears before moving to the next bush (if you have more than one) to avoid spreading disease from one bush to another.

  3. Cut diseased canes (branches) from the currant bush. Cut each cane as close to the ground as possible. Diseased canes have black patches on the bark. Remember to disinfect the shears each time you cut off a diseased cane.

  4. Cut damaged canes from the currant bush. Remove broken or split canes, or those damaged by wildlife. Cut each cane as close to the ground as possible.

  5. Count the remaining canes. If 12 or fewer canes remain on the bush, pruning is finished for the year. Remember to disinfect the shears before moving on to the next bush.

  6. Cut off the largest, oldest canes. Older canes have grey bark. Younger canes have brown bark. Older canes are thick, woody and dry.

  7. Cut away canes very close together to allow air and light to reach the remaining branches. Good air circulation helps keep bushes disease-free.

  8. Continue pruning until between nine and 12 younger canes are left on the red currant bush. Expect fruit on these canes this year and the next.

  9. Tip

    White currant bushes are pruned exactly the same as red currant bushes, as they are in the same family.


    Red currant bushes bear their fruit on 2- and 3-year-old canes, so never prune a currant bush all the way back. Never prune a red current bush when in leaf. Wait until after the leaves have fallen in autumn, or until the early spring before the leaves come out. Black currant bushes are in a different family, so do not follow the same pruning guidelines as for red currant bushes.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pair of pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Disinfectant such as bleach

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