Growing Berry Plants: Red And Black Currants Growing Berry Plants: Red And Black Currants

Growing berry plants, such as red and black currants, requires some knowledge of the plants habits, as well as the right climate for growing. Here are some tips for growing red and black currants.

Prepare the Soil

To grow currants, clear the spot of ground where you wish to plant the shoot. Remove all perennial weeds, and be sure there are no other plants nearby to compete with a young currant bush.

Consider planting two bushes at once, particularly of black currants. They are self-pollinating, but produce larger amounts of fruit if they have a cross-pollinating bush nearby.

Add a measure of compost or aged manure to the ground before you plant.

Plant the Shoots

When you purchase your currant plants, choose from nursery or garden center stock that is two years old.

Cover the bush two inches higher than it was planted in the nursery. Any weak or spindly shoots should be cut off, and all remaining shoots should be cut back until they have only three buds each.

Although this seems somewhat drastic, cutting back promotes new growth in the future and a deeper, more complex root system for the plant.

Pruning and Maintaining

After berry season each year, you’ll want to prune the bush back to promote future yields. The heaviest fruit growth is on the stems that are one year old. Therefore, each year you need to keep the new growth intact so it can produce the next year, and encourage the growth of new stems.

Second and third year bushes still produce berries, just not as much as in their first year.

After the season, any wood that is three years old or more should be trimmed back. Remove braches that are broken or bent, and trim back branches if they are too close to the ground to produce well.

The bushes grow aggressively and can become as tall as six feet. However, if you guide and cordon them as they grow, they will remain orderly and good producers of fruit.

Potential Problems

Red and black currants should be sprayed for aphids and red spider mites. You can use an organic insecticide or spray. The currant worm also requires an insecticide, but it is more common on the red currant.

European currant rust attacks both varieties. It can cause orange clusters under the leaves, causing the leaves to turn orange and die. The best way to prevent this is to buy rust resistance varieties of plants.

Avoid planting too near to white pine, since it may lead to white pine blister rust.

Propagating the Bushes

If you wish to get more currant plants from your current ones, take cuttings from the established plants in the late spring or early fall.  Allow them to root in water before planting them as described for a nursery plant. It is also possible to propagate the bush through layering.

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