How Do You Cut Red, White And Black Currants?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:31 pm

In June, the sweet and sour currants are in high season. But only if annual pruning of currants, the bushes will hang full of juicy fruit in the summer. If regular care and maintenance pruning is not carried out, the currant bush will form fewer and smaller berries from year to year. How the lush currant harvest of shrubs and high stems succeeds with the right pruning, more about this in this article.

The best time for pruning currants is immediately after harvesting.

Currants are usually pruned back immediately after harvest. This has the advantage of making it easier to see which shoots had fruit hanging on them that year. This makes it easier to distinguish between the different shoots, while the cut wounds on the bush heal better. Alternatively, pruning currants can be done in the spring before the leaves emerge. For this purpose, a dry and frost-free day should be chosen. This reduces the risk that the currant will be infected with diseases due to open spots.

Pruning is different for red, white and black currants.

How Do You Cut Red, White And Black Currants?

Before starting pruning, it is first crucial to know which currant it is. Red and white currants are pruned differently than black currants. The reason: red and white currants form most of their fruit on the two- to three-year-old shoots. Blackcurrants, on the other hand, bear most of their berries on the long one-year-old side shoots. Therefore, different pruning techniques should be used depending on the variety.

Correct pruning of red and white currants

What is the ideal currant bush?
As a rule, a bush of red or white currants should consist of no more than eight to ten main shoots, which are not older than three to four years. Once a shoot reaches the age of four years, it produces less and less fruit from then on. High-yielding shrubs are therefore ideally composed of 2 one-year-old, 2 two-year-old, 2 three-year-old and 2 four-year-old shoots.

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Did you know?

White currants are not a separate species, but a variant of the red currant. Therefore, they are pruned in the same way as red currant bushes.

Which shoots are removed?

Immediately after harvesting, first remove all the main shoots that are four years old or older. The old thick shoots are heavily woody and can be identified by their darker color. To remove them completely, cut them off just above the ground at the base.

The next step is to select three to a maximum of four new of the strongest young shoots to replace the old shoots that were previously removed. These new strong shoots remain and must not be removed, as they will provide the currant crop in the coming years. The main shoots should always have enough distance between them so that air can circulate between them. Then, for optimal development of the bush, all weaker and excess new shoots are shortened to the base. In this way, the currant is regularly rejuvenated and remains vital in the long term.

Finally, the side shoots that have borne fruit this year are cut. After harvesting, the harvested side shoots are cut back to 1 to 2 cm. Due to the pruning, the shoots will form many new fruits in the summer after next. If you have not yet done this step after harvest, you can do it in the spring. However, all new side shoots that have emerged this year and have not yet formed berries must remain standing; they must not be cut back, as they will grow the crop for the coming year. The only exception: the new side shoots are too dense and thus hinder each other in growth. In this case, every second of the new side shoots should be shortened to one or two centimeters. The ideal distance between the branches should not be less than 10 cm, so that the fruit branches develop optimally.

Overview of pruning for red and white currants

Time: Immediately after harvest or in spring

  • Shrub ideally consists of 8 main shoots
  • Completely remove main shoots that are 4 years and older
  • select 3 to 4 strong new shoots and leave them standing
  • cut off excess and weaker new shoots
  • Shorten side shoots that have borne fruit in the summer to 1-2 cm.
  • Do not cut new side shoots (will bear fruit next year)
  • Only shorten side shoots that are too dense
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Correctly prune red and white currant bushes

In addition to the classic shrub form, currants are also available as decorative high stems. The advantage: high stems save space and harvesting the delicious berries is easier due to the practical height. However, high stems require more care and are not as durable as the shrubs. Pruning is similar in principle to the shrub, yet there are a few differences.

Red or white currant high trunk is also pruned every year immediately after harvest or in the spring. The crown ideally consists of a central shoot and four evenly spaced leading branches. After harvest, one or two of the oldest shoots (older than four years) are removed at the base. Strong new shoots are left as replacements. Then remove the excess and weaker young shoots. Cut back the other remaining main shoots to about 30 cm. In the next step, shorten all side shoots on which fruit has already grown to one or two centimeters. Remove the remaining side shoots that are too dense, about less than 5 cm from the trunk or center shoot.

Prune black currants correctly

How Do You Cut Red, White And Black Currants?

Unlike the red varieties, most of the fruits of black currants grow on the long one-year side shoots. So the more of them sprout on the bush, the more abundant will be the harvest in the summer. Blackcurrants therefore require more pruning to encourage them to form new wood. Black currant bushes should usually consist of eight to ten vigorous and young shoots to produce abundant fruit. Pruning blackcurrants is easier and, as with red varieties, is done immediately after harvest. First, the oldest (three-year-old) main shoots are completely removed, leaving three to four strong new shoots as replacements. All other weak shoots should be shortened to the base. The remaining main branches must be cut off above the second side shoot each year after harvest.

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Pruning for blackcurrant at a glance

Time: Immediately after harvest or in spring

  • remove old main shoots, which are older than 3 years
  • leave 3-4 strong new shoots as replacement
  • shorten all weak shoots to the base
  • cut off remaining main branches above the 2nd side shoot

Properly prune black currant bush.

An ideal crown of black currant bush consists of a central shoot with about six loosely arranged main shoots. The trunk also receives pruning after harvest to ensure that it remains vital and continues to bear juicy berries for many years to come. Otherwise, pruning can also take place in the spring.

Cut off the oldest main shoots, which are already more than three years old, at the base and replace them with new strong new shoots. Branches that have formed berries this summer are shortened to one or two centimeters. Then remove all weak supernumerary or too dense shoots.

Autumn pruning for red, white and black currants

In autumn, the red, white and black currant bushes and high stems get another maintenance pruning. During this pruning, all dried, diseased or too weak shoots and branches are cut off at the base. Prunings that are affected by diseases should not be disposed of in the compost, otherwise the pathogens can spread further in the garden.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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