Check Here Before Buying – Pot Size Matters...Not all websites offer the same. Plants in a 2-litre pot have twice the root system of a P9 or 1 litre pot.


Check Here Before Buying – Pot Size Matters...Not all websites offer the same. Plants in a 2 litre pot have twice the root system of a P9 or 1 litre pot.

How to Grow Your Own Redcurrants

Redcurrants are fantastic, easy-to-grow, heavy cropping bushes that do particularly well in colder northern regions. We believe they are under-utilised; not as widely grown as strawberry plants and raspberry bushes, but immensely rewarding. Closely related to blackcurrants but grown more like gooseberries, redcurrants are self-fertile, so you only need one plant for a bumper crop and there is no need to worry about what goes with what. Redcurrants are unfussy and adaptable, they can grow in semi-shaded or damp conditions, making them ideal for unproductive corners of a garden where other plants struggle, and are hardier than most other fruits, so are suitable for colder spots too (although frost pockets should be avoided). As long as the soil is reasonably good quality and not alkaline, they will usually do well. Once planted, redcurrant plants will remain productive for almost 20 years. Even if you don't want to eat the fruit, redcurrants are highly ornamental and a great way of attracting birds to your garden. If you had to weigh up the amount of harvest against the effort, space and expense of many edible plants, currants would come near the top of the list.


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 Redcurrants ready to be harvested

Redcurrants ready to be harvested



Redcurrant bushes are highly productive - mature plants can be expected to produce 3-4kg (6-9lb) of tasty, nutritious fruit each year. The berries also have high ornamental value, being carried in large trusses of 10-20 on fruiting spurs, making them easy to pick. Berries are deep red in colour and soft to the touch when fully ripe and will hang on the bush for a number of weeks. The advantage of red and white currants over black is that they have thinner skins and are usually sweet enough to be eaten raw.


Culinary Uses

Redcurrants are rich in vitamin C  and anti-oxidants with a high pectin content which makes them ideal for making jams and jellies. They are tasty eaten raw once fully ripe, perhaps with a little sugar added or mixed into a fruit salad. Redcurrants make tasty syrups or pies and work well as part of a fruit compote; although our personal recommendation is redcurrant tart made with crumbly pastry and a vanilla filling, topped with icing sugar.


Redcurrant jam


The berries go particularly well with game or lamb, or mixed with blackcurrants in a summer pudding. Another option is to use them to make a sauce to use with ice cream, or in fruity drinks. Redcurrants are best eaten immediately after picking (and, of course, washing) but will store for a few days in the fridge. Whole trusses also freeze well in bags, providing any damaged fruit is removed first. When the fruits are needed take them from the freezer and remove the individual currants by hand or by running the stems through the prongs of a fork.A spoonful of frozen berries make a great addition to breakfast cereals and porridge.


Lamb with redcurrant sauce


Top Tip: Add a few redcurrants to strawberry jam to provide a redder colour and a better set.


Recommended Redcurrant Variety

The best redcurrant variety is:

Redcurrant 'Jonkheer van Tets' -  excellent deciduous variety which bears an abundance of large, well flavoured berries on long trusses between July and August. It is a small bush with mid-green foliage and a spreading growth habit, producing fruits equally well in full sun or partial shade. Like blackcurrant plants and gooseberry plants, it can be trained into any desired shape or size such as a fan, espalier, cordon or standard, or just allowed to grow as a normal bush.


Redcurrant Red Lake


Alternatively, if you're also considering a whitecurrant, look no further than Whitecurrant White Versailles (also known as Whitecurrant Versailles Blanche), which produces a reliable, heavy crop of berries year after year above deciduous, pale green leaves.


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Planting Advice

When to Plant

Containerised redcurrant plants can be planted at any time of the year, but it is best to avoid very hot or very cold weather. The best time to plant to allow for strong establishment is from November to the end of February. Containerised plants can be kept in the pot for several weeks (if watered regularly) but are best planted as soon as possible if the conditions permit. Bare root bushes should be planted during the dormant season between November and March. Bare root plants should be planted as soon as possible after delivery. If this is not possible, heel them into a spare patch of soil until the conditions allow and you are ready to plant.



Redcurrants will grow in almost any soil, providing it is not alkaline and has some drainage. A moist, neutral to slightly acidic soil with some drainage is considered ideal. If you have a poor or sandy soil, dig in plenty of well rotted compost or manure and apply a couple of generous handfuls of bonemeal when planting. This improves water retention (redcurrants like lots of moisture) and provides essential nutrients to make your redcurrant plants thrive.


Trowel in soil



Whilst a sunny spot is ideal and results in sweeter-tasting fruits, redcurrants will still crop well in semi-shade. Currants grown in partial shade will just take a week or two longer to ripen. Redcurrant plants are hardier than most other fruit, but should still be situated in a sheltered position protected from strong or cold/drying winds; they need moisture to produce large fruit and drying winds affect berry size and may damage the foliage. Frost pockets should be avoided. Redcurrants can be grown against a north-facing wall and make an attractive cover in these circumstances, but the fruit will ripen later and may be less sweet.


Aspect over house



Space redcurrant bushes 1.5m apart with the same distance between rows to allow plants to expand to their full size at maturity. If you're short on space you can grow cordons, being a single stem, spaced 50cm apart. To do this simply prune out all the stems to leave just one single, central leader as a framework. The planting distance should be increased to 2m for fans to allow plenty of room for training the leading branches.



Keep the roots of your redcurrant plants damp before planting, but do not leave the rootball entirely immersed in water as they drown. When you're ready to plant, dig a hole plenty big enough for the redcurrant plant's roots such that the crown finishes 4-5cm (1-2 inches) below soil level. If planting a containerised specimen, gently tease out the roots and cut back any damaged roots before planting. Briefly dunk the roots in a bucket of water before planting and mix a couple of handfuls of blood, fish and bone into the top soil when backfilling to provide your redcurrants with the nutrients they need to make a strong start. Firm the soil down to eliminate air pockets and water well after planting.


Blood fish and bone


Container Growing Redcurrant Plants

An alternative is to plant your redcurrant in a container using a loam based compost such as John Innes No 3 (multi-purpose will do as an alternative). Choose a large, wide container as redcurrants have a shallow, spreading root system. A pot depth of 40cm is sufficient; the width of the container is more important and we recommend 60cm (2 feet) as a minimum. The larger the pot, the better its water retention will be and therefore the less often you'll need to water your redcurrant plants. Fan-trained trees in particular work well in large tubs, e.g. half barrels to give a natural appearance.


Initial Pruning and Watering

Cut back any branches less than 15-20cm above ground level to encourage the bush to develop a short 'leg' (short single trunk just above ground level before branching occurs). Prune all other branches to an outward-facing bud at around one-third of their original length. Redcurrants will require frequent watering in the first summer until their roots are well-established.


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Currants are usually grown as free-standing bushes, but they can also be pruned into single or double cordons, espaliers or fans. Their use as a free-standing bush is most common, for which formative pruning is important and should aim to establish a 15-20cm (6-8 inch) 'leg' so the long branches don't drag on the ground under the weight of the fruit. Redcurrants can crop so heavily in good years that the branches may bend or break. At times like this, support the branches by tying them to stakes, canes or wires. Given that redcurrant bushes grow erect, they don't particularly need support structures at other times of the year, although some people choose to have one in place all-year round so it's ready when the fruiting season arrives. Options include growing against wires, either secured against a wall or stretched between 2 posts. Tying lead branches to wires against a wall is one of the easiest ways to train your redcurrant plant into a fan shape.


If you're looking to grow your redcurrant as a cordon with a head of fruiting branches at the top, it is important to support the leader and train it as a single stem to the top of a cane. Use a cane to support your redcurrant plants and tie in the selected lead stem with string or soft twine. As the plant grows during its first year, tie the main stem in at regular intervals. Once the stem reaches your desired height (up to a maximum of about 2m), prune back the growing tip to a bud. Productive side-shoots will be produced by the cordon as it grows, which should be cut back to 2 buds from the main stem in July to encourage fruiting 'spurs'. Check the ties that support the main cordon stem every month to ensure they aren't getting too tight as the main stem thickens. Your cordon should fruit in the second year after planting.



t's important to consider how fruits are produced on redcurrant bushes when pruning. Redcurrants fruit on spurs (stubby sideshoots) from the main stems, on two and three year old wood and at the base of new wood, so pruning is designed to encourage more of these. The aim of pruning is to maintain an open-centred, goblet-shaped bush comprising around 5-6 strong, well-spaced branches grown on a leg which is 15-20cm (6-8 inches) of bare stem from the ground up. This allows air to circulate, preventing diseases, and allows light to reach all parts of the plant. It also makes it a lot easier to pick the fruit at harvest time. Ideally, the branches should be equally split between one, two and three year old wood.




Most pruning should be done in late winter or early spring at a time when there is not a frost. The lead shoots of well-established plants should be cut back by one-third to an outward facing bud. Surplus shoots, especially those crowded in the middle of the bush, drooping down to the ground and dead, weak or damaged branches, should be removed. Prune any stems which are older than 3 years right back, as this wood will no longer be productive. At the same time, prune sideshoots back to 2 buds as this helps to promote a compact growth habit. This encourages new growth in the coming year which will bear fruit the year after. Finally, remove any suckers from the roots. Further "spur" pruning in early summer helps to encourage the growth of more fruiting spurs. This involves pruning new growth back to 5 leaves, pruning to an outward facing bud.


Established cordons should be pruned in early spring, reducing new growth on the main vertical stem by a quarter to the previous year's growth, or by a half if growth is weak. Once the cordon is at the desired height, cut to one bud of new growth each year in early summer. Prune the shoots from the main stem to one bud to build up a fruiting spur system. In winter, all side shoots should be pruned back to between 1 and 3 buds.


 Redcurrants trained as cordons

Redcurrants trained as cordons


Pests & Diseases

The best redcurrant plant variety for disease resistance is Redcurrant 'Jonkheer van Tets' and if you follow our recommendations about plant spacing, pruning and mulching, you are unlikely to face any problems.


The most common redcurrant pest is sawfly, with the first sign being leaves getting eaten by caterpillars. The easiest way to avoid sawfly damage is to destroy their eggs before they hatch. Eggs are laid towards the end of spring along the veins on the underside of the leaves, normally at the bottom of the plant towards the centre. The eggs are 1mm wide and long and light green. We recommend examining the leaves of your redcurrant every week from mid-spring to check for eggs and destroy any you find. Following our formative pruning guidelines to create a 'leg' so your redcurrant bush is raised 15-20cm (6-8 inches) off the ground makes it more difficult for sawfly to lay their eggs on the leaves. Maintaining an open, goblet-shaped bush also exposes the centre of the plant (deterring sawfly from laying eggs) and makes eggs that are laid easier to spot/remove. If you aren't able to catch the sawfly early and find they've hatched into caterpillars and are damaging your redcurrants, hunt down the caterpillars and remove them, or use a bug killer spray.


Mildew can be a problem if the soil is too dry. This can be treated using a fungicide spray, although it's always preferable to keep the soil moist and apply a mulch to avoid the problem in the first instance. An alternative organic method is to spray with diluted washing up liquid mixed at 1 teaspoon per 2 litres of water or companion planting with flowers such as marigolds nearby.


 Powdery mildew on redcurrants

Severe powdery mildew on redcurrants


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Coral Spot is less common, signified by coral pink spots on old or dead wood which causes these branches to die-back and can spread to other parts of the plant. The best solution is to cut off and burn infected wood to a point well past the infection, then paint the wounds with a sealant. Leaf spot is also rare, indicated by dark brown spots that appear on leaves which get larger until the whole leaf turns brown. The best solution is to remove and burn affected leaves and use a fungicide spray.


Be sure to protect your redcurrants from preying birds. Birds like to eat both the developing buds of currant bushes in the winter and the fruits as they start to swell; bullfinches in particular are adept at eating fruit buds in the spring. Protect your redcurrant plants well before the fruits start to appear: a net loosely draped over canes will do, although a more permanent fruit cage is worth it if you have more than a few bushes.


Robin bird


Garden Care



Spread a slow-release, multi-purpose fertiliser (one with a high potassium content is best as redcurrants have a high need for potassium) or a couple of handfuls of blood, fish and bone around the base of your redcurrant plants in late February, just before spring growth starts to commence, and again in October. This will improve the strength of your plants, increase your crop and result in an improved flavour. If you have a particularly poor soil, feeding more frequently may be beneficial. Container-grown redcurrants should be fed every 2 weeks from late winter to early spring with a liquid feed.



Redcurrants are typically ready for harvesting from July onwards in the UK, earlier than other fruits, although the timing depends on where you live and the variety you are growing. Berries turn a shiny, deep rich red and should be firm, juicy and sweet to taste when fully ripe. If the berries have become dull coloured you have waited too long. All berries will not ripen at the same time, so pick every week during dry weather over the course of 2-3 weeks; if the fruits are wet they will not store well, but turn mouldy. Cut whole trusses off together using a clean pair of scissors, rather than trying to pick the berries individually. If using redcurrants for jelly, we recommend picking them when slightly under-ripe as the fruit has more pectin at this stage, which allows the jelly to set better. Wait until they are fully ripe for everything else.


Harvested redcurrants in tray


Weeding and Mulching

It's important to control weeds after planting to reduce competition for moisture and nutrients. Weed well in spring and at the same time apply a thick mulch of straw, garden compost, well-rotted manure, bark, stones, garden clippings or wood chip to help keep weeds at bay and preserve moisture. Organic matter will also eventually rot down and improve the ground. Ensure the mulch is spread around but does not touch the base of the plant. Avoid using a hoe to control weeds as this tool could easily damage the shallow rooting system of redcurrant plants.





Redcurrants are moisture hungry plants so will require watering during periods of dry weather, especially if grown in containers. The general rule is that lots of water applied occasionally is far better than a little water applied often, but be careful to temper the level of watering as the fruits start to swell as over-watering at this stage can cause them to split. Water less regularly after fruiting to prepare the bush for winter; watering in winter is rarely necessary. Pay extra attention to watering if you're growing your redcurrants in containers.


Watering cans on wall


Container Grown Redcurrants

Replacing the top couple of inches of compost with fresh potting compost mixed with slow-release fertiliser granules every spring will help regenerate the plant's nutrients. Look to re-pot every three to four years, even if into the same size container, removing about a third of the roots and compost. Do this carefully so as not to damage the roots. Place the container on 'feet'. This will allow excess water to flow out of the base of the container through the drainage holes and prevent the roots from rotting.


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Thank you so much this was an absolutely excellent , comprehensive and extremely helpful article xx
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