We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Home & garden.

Updated: 17 Dec 2021

How to grow blackcurrants

Blackcurrants are easy to grow and produce delicious crops in summer. Discover our best blackcurrant varieties and tips for how to grow them.
CT
Ceri Thomas
Blackcurrant fruit

Blackcurrants have got bigger and, it’s claimed by breeders, sweet enough to eat straight from the plant. Whether you want to grow them for fresh fruit, juice, desserts or sauces, blackcurrants are easy to care for and produce great crops.

The experts at Which? Gardening magazine grew and tasted different varieties to find you the best ones to plant.


Make more of your garden - get our free Gardening newsletter for top tips from our experts


How to grow blackcurrants: month by month

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune
PLANT/PRUNEPLANT/PRUNEPLANT

HARVEST
JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
HARVEST


PLANT/PRUNEPLANT/PRUNE

Best blackcurrant varieties

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you're not a member, join Which? for instant access.

Best Buy blackcurrants
What it looks likeVariety nameYield per plant
480g
This variety is said to give some of the largest fruits that are sweet enough to eat on their own. And we agree. The currants, on short strigs (branched stalks), were huge: about three times normal size. They were very juicy and had no noticeable acidity. Our plants weren’t troubled by the aphids that damaged others either, so despite a lower yield, we made it a Best Buy.
What it looks likeVariety nameYield per plant
1400g
The fruits of this variety were low in acidity and relatively high in sugar. They did have a strong ‘blackcurrant’ taste, but the sweetness made them pleasant enough to be eaten on their own straight from the plant. We found the size of the currants varied a lot, although most were large, and the strigs were short but plentiful. The plants didn’t attract aphids either, so stayed healthy.
What it looks likeVariety nameYield per plant

How we test blackcurrants

We planted three of each variety at Capel Manor Gardens in north London in autumn, and assessed crops two years later. To get an objective assessment of the sweetness of the blackcurrants, we used a Brix refractometer. After a very warm early spring, our currants ripened a week or two earlier than expected. Crop levels were also lower than you’d expect from a mature bush as we only grew them for two years. We had no disease problems, but in early spring some varieties became infested with aphids, which damaged emerging leaves.

Caring for your plants

Planting

Grow in well-drained, moist soil with added well-rotted manure, preferably in full sun or light shade. Space bushes 1-1.5 metres apart and put them 5cm deeper than the previous planting level then trim shoots to within two buds above ground (about 5cm). Winter is the best time to plant them as cheaper bare-root plants are available from fruit nurseries - these also have the advantage of using less plastic and peat in their production that pot-grown plants.

Pruning

Blackcurrant fruit forms on young wood. During the first three or four winters remove weak shoots. After this, cut out about a third of the older wood at the base and remove weak shoots each autumn/winter.

How and when to harvest

June to July

Harvest modern varieties by cutting the strigs (fruit bunches) as they turn black. Top currants on older varieties ripen first.

Common growing problems

Big bud

Swollen and rounded buds develop in the winter, and then fail to open normally in the spring. The buds may fail to open or may produce distorted and reduced leaves, and flowering is drastically reduced. This swelling and damage to the embryonic leaves is caused by the feeding activity of microscopic mites within the dormant bud. Plants may crop well for several years after the initial infestation. As they feed, the mites may spread reversion virus.

Read more about big bud

Currant leaf blister aphid

Tiny yellowish aphids feed on the lower leaf surface, causing blistered leaves, which are initially green but soon turn shades of red and purple. The foliage is often attacked when quite small, but symptoms intensify as the leaf grows. General growth, vigour and cropping are rarely affected.

Read more about currant leaf blister aphid

Currant and gooseberry leaf spot

Small dark-brown spots appear on the foliage of currants and gooseberries in early summer. The spots increase in size and quantity, and the infected leaves discolour and fall prematurely. If the infection is severe, the plant will be weakened and fruits may shrivel.

Read more about currant and gooseberry leaf spot

Currant clear wing moth

Stems tunnelled by brown-headed white caterpillars, which are up to 15mm long. Infested shoots may die back and be easily snapped off, revealing a tunnel filled with blackened droppings in the centre of the stem.