HOW TO PLANT AND GROW BLACKCURRANTS



With increasing competition from imported exotic fruits the old fashioned blackcurrant has been falling out of favour since the Second World War. For years it has been the ‘preserve’ of jams and fruit cordials, but recently it has gained a new identity as one of the latest additions to the recent super food craze.

On English soils the blackcurrant is relatively easy to grow although they will do best on a slightly acidic, heavy clay loam situated in a sunny, sheltered site away from strong winds and late frosts.

Preparation is - as always - important so before planting, dig over your soil adding plenty of well rotted farmyard manure.

On lighter soils you may also wish to add leaf mould or any other organic matter as this will help to reduce its free draining properties and typical leaching of nutrients.

Blackcurrant bushes are usually bought as pot grown plants but you may also be able to purchase them bare-rooted from specialist nurseries during their dormant period of November to February.

As blackcurrants produce fruit on stems grown the previous year it’s important to achieve a regular supply of fresh growth year on year. This is done by either growing it as a multi-stemmed bush or by using the ‘stool’ method which allows the bush to grow out from a single basal stem.

By raising the main bush up from the ground this way you are also allowing good air flow around your plants and in so doing reducing the incidence of grey mould which can be particularly troublesome in most soft fruits.

Water your plants well after planting and continue to do so during hot dry weather in the first year as blackcurrants are relative shallow rooted.

Space the bushes between 5ft and 6ft apart depending on the variety, and for all new plants cut back all the growth to a couple of inches of soil level.

If you are you are growing a multi-stemmed bush then you have nothing more to do, but if you want to encourage stooling then you need to remove all but one healthy stem which again is cut back to within a couple of inches of the soil line. These can now be left for two more years before they need pruning again

In subsequent years mulch your bushes every spring with a well rotted farm manure, this will help to add valuable nutrients to the soil, conserve moisture and help to keep down the weeds as blackcurrants have difficulty competing with them. If your plants are growing strongly then you may wish to change your mulch to something less rich such as straw, leaf mould or wood chips.
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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I'm growing blackcurrent plans for a couple of years. Second years plant s getting sick with a strange disease; leaves are getting yellow and then are foll down. Please help. What should be done?
Thank you

Simon Eade said...

Thank you for your comments,the symptoms that you are desribing do not correspond to any of the comon - or even the more obscure - diseases or physiological problems associated with currents. However, in the absence of seeing the plant for myself I do have one suggestion for you. I grow a number of different currents myself, and although they do not display your particular problem - some of the hardwood cuttings I took last year were showing a strong yellow discolouration.

As you may know, currents require a slightly acidic soil and so your yellow colouration may be nothing more than a bad case of chlorosis - and of course, in extreme cases the leaves will fall off. The soil around the root system can be treated with a dose of 'sulphate of ammonia' - see manufactureres recommendation. Or for a quicker effect, a liquid ericaceous fertilizer or sequestrien.You should expect to see a reversion back to normall growth within a few weeks. Don't forget that there has not been much rain this spring and fruiting bushes will need extra watering at this time of year while the fruit is being formed. If the plant is already under stress due to chlorosis any further problems may result in the loss of the crop.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I planted 4 new blackcurrant plants last year and cut them back in October. They have grown well but the leaves are full of small holes and the fruit yield per plant is very low. I have an established blackcurrant plant which has loads on it and no holes (probably a different species)

Any help would be much appreciated especially if there is an organic way to stop the disease?

Thanks

David

Simon Eade said...

Hello David, thank you for your question. With regards to the yield, the fruit will only really grow on the previous seasons wood so - as long as you don't prune it this year - you can expect a far better crop next season. With regards to the holes in the leaves, different insects pests will leave their own characturistic bite marks and so without a picture it will be very difficult to identify. My first gess would be flea beetles but I have not seen them attack my own currents eventhough I have a healthy population on my radish and lettuce. Feel free to send a photo to gardenofeaden@googlemail.com

Jonathon Mcdaniels said...

Where can i find blackcurrants online for my garden. They need some aphid resistance and possibly fungal. it also needs to grow well in temperate, rainy climates. acidic is the soil, because of all the pine.

Simon Eade said...

Hello Jonathon, thank you for you inquirey. I would need to know what country - and where abouts in it - before I am able to help you. If you want to keep your details private then email me directly on gardenofeaden@googlemail.com

Gizzy said...

My little boy and i have grown 4 blackcurrant plants from seed. They are currently in little pots on the windowsill in the kitchen. Have been searching the net for info as to what we do next and everything is about buying and planting bushes. Please could you offer us some advice?

Simon Eade said...

Hello Gizzy, thanks for the question. Unfortunately the reason why there is no info on the web regarding growing blackcurrents from seed is because blackcurrent cultivars are vegevatively propagated as they do not grow true to the parents from seed. However, once they get to about 6" I would top them out to encourage laeral growth and then pot them on into a larger pot.You will then need to harden them off outside as soon as possible as you will want to get them planted in the ground over the autumn period.From there it will be business as usual.
Kind regards Simon

rosey said...

Hello!
I have 6 black currant bushes in raised beds that are doing great. However, over half of them are leaning over towards the ground- some actually touching the ground, and it looks like tiny roots are forming on the part of the branch that is touching the soil.
Do I need to stake the bushes? I'm confused because some of them are standing perfectly tall and steady.

Thank you!
Rosey in Alaska

Jimmy Endicott said...

Hi Simon,

A neighbour has given me a handful of blackcurrants from his own, well established, bush. Can I take the seeds from them to grow my own and if so how would I go about doing it?

Simon Eade said...

Hi Jimmy, sorry but if you want seed grown seedlings that will grow up to be the same as the parent plants then you will be disappointed. You would do better by taking hardwood cuttings in the autumn - it's very easy. Regards, Simon

JDelage said...

Hi,

I want to grow black currants in a raised bed in Seattle. The bed is 4" x 8". My thinking is to stagger 4 plants in there. Does that seem right? I have read some recommendations for as much as 4" between each plant.

Boria Poplon said...

Hello.
I have a black currant bush given to me from the cutting brought from Moscow Russia.
This is the second year, plant looks very healthy and I got lots of flowers however all of a sudden all the flowers fell of. What can be a problem?