How to prune Redcurrants
Redcurrant bushes are one of the easiest types of fruit bushes to grow, with a little pruning and care they will produce an abundance of fruit in summer. You may think that they are pruned in the same way as blackcurrants but this is incorrect, they are actually pruned in a very similar way to gooseberries. Whitecurrants are also pruned in this way.
Redcurrants produce fruit on the previous year’s growth, so pruning the growth incorrectly would likely remove the branches that will produce the following year’s growth. They produce the most fruit on branches that are between two and four years old, once the branches get older than four years they start to produce poor crops and need removing. With this in mind, you want to achieve a bush with branches that are between 1 and 4 years old.
When to prune Redcurrants
Pruning should be done once the plant has gone dormant, this is in winter and can be done any time between December and March as long as there is no frost.
Don’t prune young plants until the fourth year
Newly planted redcurrants don’t require any pruning for the first 4 years except for removing any diseased, damaged or dead growth.
On the fourth year some of the older branches that have produced fruit 3 years on a row will need removing. Remove two or three of the oldest branches that are looking tired by pruning them right back to the base of the plant. This will make room for new branches.
The newest growth from the current year should be left un-pruned but branches that are around two years old will have side shoots, cut these side shoots back to 2 buds. This will help promote new growth which will bear fruit the following year.
When pruning, always prune to a outward facing bud.
Pruning cordon grown plants
Established redcurrants grown as a cordan should be pruned in early spring. Cut the main stem of the current year’s growth by around a quarter. Once your plant has reached it’s desired height, simply prune the main stem to one bud above the previous years growth in early summer every year. Prune any side shoots from the main stem to 1 bud at the same time. This will promote more fruit over the next couple of years.
General growing tips
- Plant redcurrants in full sun, in moist but well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly acidic, ideal ph is 6-7.
- They will grow in most soils including poor and clay soils, they are very hardy plants.
- They can be grown in a north facing position in shade but fruit will take longer to ripen and fruit will not be as sweet.
- Mulch around the base of plants in spring and apply fertiliser, repeat again after pruning.
- Established plants require very little watering, but water young plants regularly, especially when fruit is forming.
- Space redcurrant bushes at least 5ft (150cm) apart. Trained plants grown as a cordan can be spaced 50cm apart.
- They can be grown in pots successfully but do not allow the soil to dry out.
- Pick fruit around late June when ripe, simply cut the clusters of berries off with scissors.