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The Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is a deciduous, up to two-meter-high shrub with finely hairy shoots. The leaves, bald on the top and hairy below, are two to five inches wide and roundish to slightly lobed. They appear in April and emit a strong smell when rubbed, which resembles that of the black elder.

Blackcurrants are among the few fruits that have been native to Germany for millennia. The wild relatives of the garden species grow on damp locations in riparian forests and alder quarries. The aromatic berries can hang on the bush for a relatively long time without spoiling and are a true delight in the garden as a sweet fruit.
The berry bushes belonging botanically to the family of the gooseberry plants (Grossulariaceae) were presumably already cultivated by the Teutons. The black berries have a very high vitamin C content and are very rich in anthocyanins and other phytochemicals that protect our body cells from free radical damage. Blackcurrants can be made into juice, jelly, jam, desserts and cakes.

Location and ground

Currants grow on deep and humid, humus-rich and nutrient-rich soils. The small shrubs in the garden also thrive in the partial shade of the woodland margins and on glades, but produce more aromatic fruits in sunny locations.

Planting and care

Currants can be planted as container plants throughout the year. Root-bare shrubs grow reliably only after the fall of leaves in autumn or before the first sprouting in spring. If you buy the shrubs in the pot, you should make sure that the pot ball is firmly and well rooted and the bush has five to seven strong, upright shoots. Currants are planted quite deeply to encourage the formation of adventitious roots and new ground shoots. Then you should water the shrubs well.

Plant blackcurrant

All currants and gooseberries are planted relatively low. The bale surface should be at least five inches high covered with earth

Most blackcurrants are cultivated as shrubs, but they can also be grown as Hochstämmchen. The golden currant (Ribes aureum) is particularly suitable for this. It requires less space due to its narrow and tall growth, but is less productive than currants shrubs.
Black currants are slightly more sensitive to dryness than reds and need a good water supply until fruit ripeness. Otherwise, they often shed their flowers and the berries remain very small. In summer, a layer of mulch can help to keep the soil moist and suppress weeds. You should fertilize at least every three years in early spring. Organic berry fertilizer or compost mixed with horn meal is suitable for this.

Education and editing

Blackcurrants are more vigorous than reds and whites. They have to be lighted relatively generously, otherwise the main branches age too much and hardly form side shoots. When planting cut leaves only the five strongest shoots and cut them about half. All other shoots are cut off at ground level.
In contrast to other blackcurrants, the flowers and fruits form on the long main and lateral shoots, which were created in the previous year. The older the branches become, the weaker their side shoots become and the lower the yields. For this reason, every year after the harvest, one to three oldest main shoots are cut off and the corresponding number of new ground shoots are left to replace them. Rule of thumb: The shrub should consist of seven to ten main shoots, which are not older than four years. The remaining soil shoots are also removed. The old main branches are well recognizable by the black currant on the dark bark. The tips of the other main branches are derived from strong, as steep as possible side shoots. In addition to the new top only two strong side shoots remain per main branch. Everything that diverges below knee level is severely cut off. Since only relatively few fruit shoots remain for the next year in this cutting technique, the shrub forms especially grapes with particularly large berries.
If your blackcurrant has not been cut for years, you can cut off the entire shrub in late winter just above the ground and rebuild it. Blackcurrants are extremely regenerative and are powerful again. However, you then have to forgo at least one season on their own harvest.


The flowers of the black currant are pollinated by bees and other flying insects. Most varieties are self-fertile, but the cross-pollination by a second shrub of another variety in the immediate area significantly increases the yield. Red and white varieties are not suitable as pollen donors for blackcurrants.

Harvest and recovery

Black currants are ripe between June and July. The later you pick them, the sweeter they taste. For jelly and marmalade you prefer to harvest them earlier, because then the pectin content is higher. Chilled, the berries are preserved for about one to two weeks. Black currants can be eaten directly from the shrub, but are also used as a fruity ingredient for cakes and desserts. In addition, the currants can be made into liqueur, jelly, jam or juice.

Children snack blackcurrants

Not only popular with children: the black sweet-sour berries can either be eaten by the shrub or boiled down to jam and compote


Like all blackcurrants, the blacks can easily be multiplied by sticky wood. After leafing, cut about 20 centimeters long one to two year old twigs and place them in a shady, sheltered spot in a bed of loose, humus rich, moist garden soil. By springtime, the Steckhölzer roots and drive out. In summer, the propagation of cuttings is possible. For this one uses young, not yet completely lignified drive pieces.

The varieties of black currant differ in fruit and grape size, health, ripening, frost hardness and taste.

'Hedda': sweet and large berries, which are suitable for raw consumption; ripe from the beginning of July

  • 'Silvergieters Schwarze': Berries are aromatic, sweet and mild in flavor and mature from mid-June. They hang on long grapes and are ideal for compote and jam
  • 'Daniels September': sour fruits, medium-sized berries with high vitamin C content, suitable for processing into jelly and jam
  • 'Wellington blacks': old variety, fruits already ripen from the beginning of July; High yield of aromatic, slightly sour berries, which are particularly good for snacking, but also for compote, pies and juice
  • 'Ometa': rich variety with long grapes, good taste; robust variety that is insensitive to late frosts; Harvest: middle to end of July
  • 'Titania': very large berries; robust and productive; matures in mid-July

Diseases and pests

Currants are relatively insensitive to disease, provided they are cut regularly. American gooseberry powdery does occur occasionally. It shows on white mushroom spores on the young leaves and fruits as well as on brown shoot tips. As a precaution you should plant resistant varieties and pay attention to a location that is not too dry. Affected parties should be cut out and disposed of in the trash. By the way: Jostabeeren, a cross between blackcurrant and gooseberry, are even more resistant and less prone to disease.
Only a physiological reaction is the so-called "trickle": The plants throw off the flowers and it form on the grapes only a few berries, resulting in a low harvest. Mostly spring frosts, a long dry period or a lack of pollination are the cause. If you plant several varieties close to each other and make sure that the soil remains evenly moist, they prevent this reaction. The small blackcurrant aphid is a pest that displays on blown leaves. With a low infestation, it can help to remove the leaves and shoots early and dispose of.

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