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Currant - Ribes spp.


Ribes rubrum Photo © Wikimedia Thue

Overview of the Currant:

Currants have long been grown for their use in jams, jellies, syrups and preserves. It is an attractive shrub that is especially suitable for colder climates.

Latin name:

Ribes spp.
  • Black currant - Ribes nigrum
  • Red or white currant - Ribes rubrum or Ribes sativum

Common Names:

Red currant, black currant, white currant

USDA Hardiness Zones:

Zones 3-8

Grows best in Zones 3-5

Size & Shape of the Currant:

Currant matures to a size of 3-5' tall and wide.

The shape is a round clump.


Sun to part shade

Foliage/ Flowers/Fruit of the Currant:

Leaves resemble those of maples. They are 3" long and wide. Black currants have pale green leaves, while the leaves of red and white currants are blue-green. They may change color in the fall before dropping.

White, yellow or green flowers grow on a drooping 5-6" stem and are non-showy, appearing in early spring.

Small, edible berries in either red, black or white.

Additional Currant Facts:

White currants are an albino cultivar of the standard red currants, not a different species.

Currant Design Tips:

Use as part of a harvest garden.

May be used as part of a drought tolerant landscape if properly established and watered during fruiting time, and the soil is not too sandy.

Currant Growing Tips:

Grows best in neutral to acidic clay soil. Does not tolerate alkaline soil well. Sandy soil will make it necessary to water more.

Not tolerant of salt in water or soil.

Propagation is through seeds that have been stratified for 3 months, and hardwood cuttings.


Prune during the dormant season.

Canes (stems) that are more than 2 years old for black currants, and 3 years old for red and white currants, should be cut to the ground.

Currant can be trained as a topiary standard.

Pests & Diseases of the Currant:

Prone to sun scorch.

Pests include currant worm, aphids, gall mite, spider mites, and clear-winged borers.

There are many places that do not allow black currant(Ribes nigrum) due to its susceptibility to white pine blister rust.

Susceptible to reversion virus (mainly black currant), Botrytis, Anthracnose, Phytophthora, and Oak Root fungus.

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