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Growing currants and gooseberries in the home garden

Quick facts

  • Currants and gooseberries will grow in full sun to partial shade. You will get more fruit if the plant is in full sun.
  • Space plants at least 3 feet apart.
  • Most currants and gooseberries are self-fruitful. One variety will set fruit on its own.
  • Prune annually to remove weak or dead canes and to open up the canopy.
  • Expect to get fruit 1 to 3 years after planting.
  • Remember, gooseberry bushes are spiny and will become dense thickets without regular pruning.

Although closely related, you can easily distinguish currants and gooseberries by examining the canes and fruit. Gooseberry canes normally produce a spine at each leaf node and bear roughly grape-sized berries singly or in groups of two or three. Currant canes lack the spines and bear 8 to 30 pea-sized berries in clusters.

A mature currant or gooseberry shrub can produce up to four quarts of fruit annually. Most commercially available varieties have adequate winter hardiness for the majority of the Upper Midwest, many to USDA hardiness zone 3a.

Selecting plants

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Preparing to plant

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Planting

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How to keep your currants and gooseberries healthy and productive

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Emily S. Tepe, horticultural science researcher and Emily E. Hoover, Extension horticulturalist

Reviewed in 2018

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