Plant American Black Currants

Early spring is the time to plant bare-root currants and gooseberries. Mine arrived a few weeks ago and are already planted, pruned and watered. (Miraculously.)  They are thriving and starting to sprout green buds. Ornamental shrubs in the currant family like, Alpine currant (ribes alpinum) are utilitarian shrubs that tolerate urban conditions, take full sun or part shade, are disease resistant, low maintenance and make good hedges. We specified them often when I was working at an urban design firm.

Why not borrow the natural usefulness of this plant family but choose edible varieties?  One of my favorites carries with it those same traits of being easy to grow, low maintenance and non-fussy and has the added benefit of being native to the American Midwest.  Crandall black currant, (Ribes odoratum ‘Crandall’) produces fragrant yellow flowers in spring and sweet black berries in late summer. Crandall black currant jam is the best I have ever tasted.

Plant 3’-5’ apart for a continuous hedge.

I am sorry to say you will find many nurseries sold out for this season, so make a note and order in the fall so they arrive in time to plant early next spring. I understand your jealousy. I have coveted these edible, American shrubs for years and am now thrilled they form the backdrop to my edible front yard.

Sources of Crandall black currants:

Raintree Nursery

Hidden Springs Nursery

Indiana Berry



3 Responses to “Plant American Black Currants”
  1. Debi says:

    How did the currants do this year? Did you get any? I know it was a difficult year for fruit with the wet spring and dry summer. Did they live up to you expectations ? Will they be productive the first year?

    • Jennifer says:

      Debi, Hello! This first year I got a few blossoms on my Crandall black currants but no fruit. The plants are doing great and I hope to have fruit in the second year. The gooseberry plants did not do as well so I am eager to see what happens this year. I will keep you posted!

    • mina says:

      I remember gooseberries from my great-grandmother’s garden. She didn’t make jam, but her gooseberry pie was absolutely the finest (she also owned a ran and bakery)! Not sure I can grow them here in Hawaii, even at a cooler 2300 feet.