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Currants are the edible almost everyone can grow

Feb 17, 2012 -
  Currants are the edible almost everyone can grow
Currants are an ideal edible: perennial, ornamental, and deer-resistant!

Add currant bushes to your garden for an easy, deer-resistant edible that also grows in part-shade.

If you live in USDA zones 3-8 currants are a must for your garden. In our video, Growing Currants, Tricia plants currants and gives tips on getting the best harvests.


These attractive 3’-5’ bushes will be covered in summer with glistening red berries, heralded for their simultaneously sweet and tart flavors. Enjoy them fresh or preserve them in jellies, jams, and cordials.


If you’re in a climate with hot summer sun, currants will grow best in part-shade or afternoon shade.


Good news! Although deer will browse their way through most plants we want to eat, they show little interest in currants. So if you have filled your garden with deer-resistant plants, now you can add some edibles to that group.

Rhubarb is another deer-resistant edible that grows well in sun or part-shade.

Artichokes are deer-resistant but need to be in the full sun section of your garden, where they will put on a dramatic show.


Vern Nelson in The Oregonian has directions to espalier currants to act as a screen or a decorative accent.

Lee Reich, author of Landscaping with Fruit, espaliers currants along the fences of his vegetable garden and writes appreciatively of their easy maintenance and “bright red fruit, which dangle from branches like translucent jewels.”


The natural growth habit and height of currants makes them an excellent choice for container gardening.

To learn all about growing currants (and many other edible plants) in containers, we recommend The Bountiful Container.


Cornell University suggests picking the currant flowers the first year the bush is growing, to promote plant vigor. You will have a small harvest the second year and by the third year your currant bush will produce a full harvest.

More from Cornell on picking the currants:

Currants…ripen over a two-week period in June. Berries do not drop immediately upon ripening, so they usually can be harvested in one or two pickings. Currants can be picked in clusters. ... Wait for fruit to turn color before picking. ... Currants require some trial and error to determine the right time.


We have succinct pruning instructions from Cornell (emphasis added):

Prune currants…when the plants are dormant in late winter or early spring. Remove any branches that lie along the ground as well as branches that are diseased or broken.

Ribes species produce fruit at the base of one year old wood. Fruiting is strongest on spurs of two and three year old wood.

After the first year of growth, remove all but six to eight of the most vigorous shoots.

At the end of the second growing season, leave the 4 or 5 best one-year-old shoots and up to 3 or 4 two-year-old canes.

At the end of the third year, prune so that approximately 3 or 4 canes of each age class should remain.

By the fourth year, the oldest set of canes should be removed and the new canes allowed to grow. This system of renewal ensures that the plants remain productive because young canes always replace those that are removed.

A strong, healthy, mature plant should have about eight bearing canes, with younger canes eventually replacing the oldest.


We only sell disease resistant currants. They are resistant to the White Pine Blister Rust that made currants a less popular plant in U.S. gardens.

For more information about currants read our Growing Guide, and articles from Iowa State University Extension, and Cornell University.

Eat your currants in front of the deer!

Categories: Berry Plants, Currant Plants, Fruits & Berries, Container Gardening, Edible Landscaping, Urban Gardening & farming

fay eldred Says:
Feb 20th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

greetings; it seems to me, that Maine still has the prohibition about growing currants. i do love them, but am also surrounded by 6 huge white pines.  do you know if it is legal to plant them here in Brunswick, ME ? also, how do you know that your plants are not carriers?
thanks for your help.

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 23rd, 2012 at 10:25 am

Fay, Maine bans all black currants, but allows red currants in part of the state.

Here is the link that shows which counties and towns ban red currants as well. I did not see Brunswick listed as a banning town, but it may be in a county that has a ban.

The red currants we carry are varieties that have been shown to be resistant to White Pine Blister Rust.

If you are allowed to plant currants, you might want to plant them 1000’ away from your white pines, just as a precaution.

I hope this information is helpful!


Mary Hysong Says:
Mar 19th, 2012 at 6:40 am

I’m wondering how they would do here in the desert foothills? Do they tolerate alkaline soil? It’s hard to get my pH below 8 even with heavy amendments.

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Mar 19th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Mary, The ideal pH for currants is 6.5, and they want moist soil. You could control the pH and the moisture if you grew them in Smart Pots. Have you tried containers before?

Barbara Manolache Says:
May 13th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Wondering why there are no currant bushes for sale in Central Va?  Want to get some but it looks like it is too late to plant for this year?

Many thanks.

Stephanie Brown Says:
May 13th, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Hello Barbara,
It’s possible the nurseries in your area just don’t think there is a market for them.
The other reason is some townships in Virginia still have regulations on the book prohibiting the culture of some or all currants (because they are a host for White Pine Blister Rust). There isn’t a statewide ban, but it could be that your area has laws on the books. We will return to shipping currants bare root in January.

Alex Armagost Says:
Mar 2nd, 2015 at 9:11 pm

For those growing in the north please note, not all deer have read the memo about currants, here in moose country if you don’t fence your currants and gooseberries you will have very little harvest. mine were eaten to the ground twice before we erected a fence.

Bonnie Says:
Feb 21st, 2016 at 2:27 pm

It might just be because of drought-induced desperation, but the deer in the Sierra Nevada foothills feasted on my currants (and artichokes) last year. Things are starting to bounce back, so I am hopeful that this year they (the plants and the deer) will be happier.

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