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Ribes - Growing Guide
Ribes species originate from many different parts of the northern hemisphere. Burncoose offers a selection of flowering currants and ornamental gooseberries which are grown for their ornamental flowers rather than their fruit. The genus contains both evergreen and deciduous species which are largely spring flowering and very showy indeed in flower. All those which Burncoose offers are extremely hardy but R. sanguineum varieties especially do need hard pruning when they get straggly or untidy to rejuvenate them. This should take place immediately after flowering and usually before the leaf is full out. This will improve not just the shape of the plant but also its ability to produce more larger flowers in the following year.
Most species of deciduous Ribes will propagate from hardwood cuttings taken in the autumn and set in a coldframe. Evergreens are best propagated from semi-ripe new growth cuttings in summer. Those species which do produce currants can be sown in the autumn also in the coldframe.
The pictures attached to this article give some idea of the range and beauty of Ribes flowers.
R. x gordonianum appears sterile but it produces five-lobed flowers in dense pendant racemes. The flowers are red outside and yellow within. It grows to around 6ft in height.
R. laurifolium is an evergreen with leathery leaves and greenish white flowers in profusion in late winter. It grows to only 3ft and is almost a groundcover or rockery plant if left to its own devices or it can perhaps be trained to cover a low wall. In reality it will form a low spreading mound. Blackish berries.
R. odoratum, the buffalo currant, has striking yellow scented flowers in hanging racemes in March or April. It grows to around 3ft in height with a similar spread.
R. sanguineum (the American currant) and its several named varieties have compact upright habits and grow to around 6ft. The flowers are in a range of colours but ‘White Icicle’ is perhaps our favourite with ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ not far behind. The berries are black.
R. speciosum, the fuchsia flowered currant, is the only variety so far mentioned which has spines. It is semi evergreen with us and has wonderful hanging clusters of rich red fuchsia-like flowers in April and May. It grows to around 6ft and is slightly tender. Growing it on a hot wall is idea.
R. viburnifolium is a medium sized evergreen shrub whose leaves give off a turpentine smell when crushed. The flowers are red in short erect racemes in April and are followed by red berries.