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The sour fruits of the currant bushes are ideal for use in the kitchen. The vitamin-rich, round berries add culinary value to desserts, cakes and jellies. In order to enjoy a bountiful harvest, passionate gardeners should take a few relevant facts into account when caring for them. Regular pruning increases the annual yield of the popular currants. The different types of trees make different demands on the hobby gardener when cutting.

garden classic

Vitamin bomb for the garden

Currants are among the classics among the local berry bushes. This is shown by the fact that there are different dialect names for the plant and its sour berries in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition to terms such as "Ahlbeere", "Träuble", "Ribiseln" or "Meertrübeli", there is one point that distinguishes the varieties of the gooseberry family: the topic of "pruning". Blackcurrants are pruned in a different way than red and white berry bushes.

To cut

Pruning the deciduous trees is essential for a productive season. As a rule, this measure is carried out immediately after the harvest. In the case of early-ripening berries or fast-growing specimens, it makes sense to cut before harvesting the berries. It does not matter whether the plants are cultivated as a standard or as a bush. Red currants can easily be trained as spindles and multiple shoots on a wire mesh.


The right tool

Passionate hobbyists know how important the right tools are. This also applies to work in the garden: well-sharpened and functional equipment makes work easier and contributes to an effective cut. To prune berry bushes you will need the following.

  • pruning shears
  • hand scissors
  • Jigsaw or folding saw
  • gloves

Saws and pruning shears are used inside the bush or for stronger shoots. With little effort, it is possible to quickly remove the disturbing parts of the plant. The cross section should be clean so that no germs or fungal pathogens can get inside the currants. This measure applies to every pruning, regardless of whether you are cutting berry bushes, deciduous or coniferous trees. For this reason, it is also useful to disinfect the tools after work. The smaller hand scissors are suitable for fine work. Shoots that are only a few millimeters thick can be easily cut away with it.

Motorized tools can make tending or pruning the plants easier. However, hedge trimmers of this type are unsuitable for berry trees. Refrain from using these devices.


Whether early or late bearing varieties: If you thin out the bushes after harvesting, this increases the health and vitality of the trees. The sunlight reaches the ripening fruits unfiltered, at the same time the harvest is made easier.

  • in the spring after the frost, standard currants can be cut back
  • Shorten old shoots immediately after harvest
  • Remove dead and wilted plant parts all year round

Frost and excessive heat can cause tremendous damage to hardy perennial trees. At least when the plants have been weakened by a back and thinning cut.

  • Prune late-bearing varieties before the first frost
  • do not shorten the shoots in the midday sun
  • Cut back the currants in the morning or late afternoon

Even before the formation of new shoots and buds in spring, you should shorten dead branches close to the trunk or the ground. This creates space for new branches and berries. Fast-growing and strong-growing varieties such as "Silvergieters Schwarze" quickly recover from this measure. The gloves are by no means mandatory, but an indispensable utensil for gardening. The focus is not only on protecting people, but also on plants. Just like the tool, the gardener can spread germs and pathogens in the garden. For this reason, never touch the freshly cut surface of the trees with your bare hands.


After plants

Shortening or removing shoots immediately after planting is only necessary for the spindle or hedge form. With the single-shoot training on the wire frame, several plants are planted at a minimum distance of approx. 35 cm. If you opt for the two- to three-shoot variant, you should keep a distance of at least 75 cm between the individual currant bushes. This form of cultivation is particularly suitable for mounds and raised beds.

  • in the case of single-drive training, only spare the leading drive
  • Shorten annoying side shoots immediately after planting
  • Leave 6 to 8 one-year-old shoots when training multiple shoots
  • Remove plant parts that are sprouting on the ground or on the side several times a year

With other forms of training, dead or weak shoots are removed. Shorten the tips of healthy parts of the plant by about 3 to 5 cm. This encourages bushy growth.

White, Red Berries

Cut back white and red varieties

In contrast to blackcurrants, the sour-tasting fruits of red and white currants form on the two to three-year-old shoots. From the 4th year, the yield on these branches decreases. An annual pruning is necessary so that the older shoots can be replaced by young bottom shoots. With blackcurrants, it is the annual shoots that guarantee a high-yield harvest. Older branches can be removed here without hesitation, as long as it does not affect the statics of the entire plant.

Currants with relatively weak growth should be cut back by about a third each year. There must be a balanced ratio of young and perennial shoots. For trees with red and white berries, you should heed the following tips.

  • remove older shoots at the base of the bush
  • Leave 10 to 12 main branches
  • Prune tight branches

Older shoots are often thick and woody at the base. If necessary, use a saw to neatly trim away the branches. You can "rejuvenate" red and white varieties with a trick: pull a new bottom shoot in good time, which will completely replace the old main shoot in the third or fourth year. In this way you prevent the yield of the berries from dropping noticeably and the entire plant from "aging". Older shoots can be recognized by the dark color of the bark. The most well-known red and white Ribes varieties include, for example.

Ribes Rubrum Makosta

  • medium late maturing wood with aromatic berries

Ribes Rubrum Rondom

  • an aromatic variety that bears fruit from the end of June
  • fast-growing and ideal for growing hedges

Ribes Rubrum Jonkheer van Tets

  • the strong growth characterizes this early currant variety

Ribes Rubrum Junifer

  • this plant is sensitive to frost
  • blooms from March

Ribes Rubrum champagne

  • mid-early flowering shrub
  • the berries have a light, champagne aroma

Ribes Rubrum Blanka

  • medium early bearing variety
  • high-yielding currant variety

Black berries

Pruning blackcurrants

In the case of trees with black berries, the yield on older shoots decreases noticeably from the 2nd year. The disadvantage: the older branches rob the currant of a lot of strength and energy. If the shrub is not cut back and thinned out annually, a lack of light can also lead to a poor harvest. Make room for the young shoots by removing the older ones right after harvest. With the black berry varieties, too, it is important to pay attention to the appearance and the statics of the plants. At least 10 to 12 branches should remain on the wood, which hold the shrub together.

To promote a bushy appearance, you can use a trick: leave only 3 to 4 side shoots and shorten the main shoots completely. About 4 to 6 buds are enough for the plant to sprout vigorously again. The branches appearing in the following year produce more fruit. It is by no means uncommon for weak shoots to bend to the ground under the weight of the berries. React in time and support the branch. The following are some of the best-known representatives of blackcurrants.

Ribes nigrum Ometa

  • Variety with aromatic berries
  • resistant to a variety of diseases and pests

Ribes nigrum Silvergieters Blacks

  • a high-yielding variety with a vigorous, upright habit
  • sweet and mild berries

Ribes nigrum KieRoyal

  • the self-pollinating variety has sweet fruits
  • the harvest takes place from the end of June

cutting tips

Tips for pruning perennial shrubs

The thinning and pruning of the gooseberry plants is not difficult. Regardless of the Ribes variety, there are a few general tips that will result in a tasty and bountiful harvest. This includes, for example, the shape of the cut. Position the saw or scissors at an angle. Rainwater or irrigation water can easily collect on flat surfaces, which in the worst case can cause rot. Unclean edges, such as those that occur with insufficiently sharpened tools, should be reworked. Don't hurt the main drive. If you shorten laterally and transversely growing shoots, you should leave a small stub.

Optimum shoot lengths for different varieties in spindle training:

  • Cut back currants that grow slowly or weakly to a length of between 30 - 50 cm
  • Shorten moderately slow-growing varieties to 20 - 30 cm
  • for fast-growing specimens, you can cut the branches to a length of 5 - 15 cm


Fruit varieties that have been grown into tall stems have long since ceased to be a rarity. The plants take up little space and are an eye-catcher in the garden. In addition, the trees can be cultivated in larger containers without any problems. The trend doesn't stop at currants either. Ribes aureum, the golden currant, is used specifically for this form of cultivation. Similar rules apply to tall stems as to bushy gooseberry plants.

  • Prune upward growing branches
  • Cut away water shoots
  • remove weak shoots
  • cut older, hanging branches
  • Branches must not tear when pruned
  • pay attention to an even crown build-up

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