Currant shrubs must be regularly cut back in order to remove old, worn-out wood and to encourage the growth of new wood which will bear more fruit. Older shrubs should generally be replaced, as they lose their vitality. In addition, new varieties of currant are frequently a substantial improvement on the old varieties in terms of taste, plant health and yield.
By the way, you can easily propagate new shrubs from the cuttings, as produced now during the spring pruning of your fruit trees. And this is how it works:
From the old branches, cut off strong young shoots which are the thickness of a pencil, recognisable by their lighter colour. Hold the shoot with the tip up and the shoot base downwards. Using sharp secateurs or a sharp cuttings knife, cut the lower end of the shoot off just before the lower bud. Now count five to seven buds up, and cut the shoot tip off just above the fifth to seventh bud. Now you have a so-called hardwood cutting.
Press this hardwood cutting into the loosened bed soil until only the upper bud is showing. Now tread the loosened soil down slightly – and you are done! After approximately six to eight weeks, the cutting will begin to produce shoots. Shorten the shoot after the fifth leaf by nipping out the shoot tip. This forces the plant to branch out and grow more shoots.
At the end of September, dig out the young plant and take off all its leaves. Plant it where you want your home-grown currant shrub to grow. Blackcurrants can also cope with some shade.
You can obtain currant shrubs and many other delicious berry varieties ready to plant from a plant nursery, for example. By the way, the blue-berried honeysuckle, with its sweet fruit smelling of blueberries, is the earliest plant to bear fruit in household gardens.
When propagating currant shrubs, please observe that several types are subject to variety protection (see the plant label), and may not therefore be propagated without permission from their grower.
Picture: © Axel Jahns - Fotolia.com