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Red currants

Redcurrant plant

Red currant plants (botanically known as Ribes rubrum) are tart, healthy - and beautiful. On a June summer evening, at the harvest time of the early currant varieties, take a look at the berries in the evening backlight: they are almost translucent, they refract the light like round-cut, red gemstones and proudly display their juiciness!

   
 
Currant Luberissima Ribest® Babette®

The earliest variety, a large-fruited red currant

£41.90 *

Currant Luberissima Ribest® Lisette®

A red currant with large, compact strings

£41.90 *

Currant Luberissima Ribest® Sonette®

The best late red currant, with long strings

£41.90 *

Currant Ribest® Babette®

The earliest variety, a large-fruited red currant

From £8.40 *

Currant Ribest® Decorette®

The most beautiful of all the currants

From £8.40 *

Currant Ribest® Lisette®

A red currant with large, compact strings

From £8.40 *

Currant Ribest® Sonette®

The best late red currant, long fruit

From £8.40 *

Currant Ribest® Susette®

The red currant with the best flavour

From £8.40 *

Currant Ribest® Violette®

Red currant: the latest, large-fruited variety

From £8.40 *

Moreberry®: red AND white currants in one pot

Red currant Ribest® Sonette® and white currant Ribest® Blanchette®; Ribes rubrum

£19.40 *

   
 

More useful information about Red currants

And if you plant late red currant plants such as Ribest® Violette® or Sonette® , you can enjoy the spectacle of colour for two months, from June to August. Depending on your taste and preference for sour fruits, you will enjoy them more as fresh berries (or frozen for eating in the winter), which unfold their health effects on cakes, as decoration on a beautifully prepared lunch plate or in a yoghurt dessert - or processed as jam or red fruit jelly. And if there is one fruit that completely fulfils a saying, then it is again the red currant: sour makes you happy. Who could disagree with that? And if you're still unsure whether you really want to buy and plant red currant plants, then perhaps this statement will help: red currants are very easy to cultivate in the garden.

The large selection of red currant plants in the Lubera® Plant Shop

Red currant plants are available in the Lubera® Plant Shop in all the varieties that Lubera® plant breeding has been able to achieve in breeding and improving the traditional currant varieties. The early variety Ribest® Babette® not only offers much larger single fruits than the classic, red currant early variety Jonkheer van Tets, it also has less tendency to reject a nice part of the fruits developing on the strings in May.

Our varieties

There are also advantages of the medium-early ripening currant Ribest® Lisette®, which is perhaps the best of all Ribest® varieties from a distance and overall...It is one of the most robust currants in the world assortment, has one of the largest single fruits, and has the tendency to continue growing and to bear beautiful foliage even after the longest day when almost all other red currant plants stop growing. What does the size of the fruit have to do with quality, you ask? The larger a single red currant fruit is, the better and more favourable the seed to pulp ratio. Seen in this way. Ribest® Lisette® offers a completely different, much more fruity eating experience than small-fruit varieties. Furthermore, both varieties, Ribest® Babette® and Ribest® Lisette® have a mild flavour, i.e. clearly less acidity than most standard varieties.

Sweet varieties

The sweetest of all new red currant plants from Lubera is Ribest® Susette®. The difference to the standard varieties is really striking here, whereby this is due to a slightly higher sugar content as well as to less acidity. And for this exceptional talent, a currant that can almost be called sweet, you have to pay a price: Ribest® Susette® starts very slowly in the garden bed and needs usually two years until it is established and can show its wonderful fruits on by the way very long, loose strings. If Ribest® Lisette® has the most beautiful single berries, then Ribest® Decorette® has the most beautiful, longest and thickest srings. It is almost unbelievable that such a beautiful thing is possible with the poor currant bushes which are mostly neglected in the garden...Freeze the strings of Decorette® on a cake tray laid out nicely one by one - and then the frozen strings can be put together in a container at any time and defrosted again later - always ready for decorating plates and dishes. The late red currant varieties Ribest® Sonette® and Ribest® Violette® extend the ripening time of the currants into August; both varieties have very long strings, Sonette® medium-sized berries, Violette® rather small berries. Both Ribest® Sonette®, as well as Ribest® Violette®, can be left to hang without problems until August. They become more and more beautiful, dark red and also the taste gets better again.

White currants - which are actually red

We have the white currants, which are ultimately just red currants without the red dye, in a separate category. We offer Rosa Sport® as a pink currant: together with Ribest® Susette® Rosa Sport® belongs to the sweetest and mildest varieties in the total assortment, but Rosa Sport® needs a very fertile and well-aerated location in order to grow sufficiently strong and healthy. Unfortunately, Rosa Sport® does not yet have the same resistance as the new varieties bred by Lubera...but the beautiful colour and the mild-sweet taste compensate for this. Rosa Sport® is in our tests the best of the known pink varieties.

Planting red currants

Planting new red currant plants is basically a good thing in itself: in far too many gardens there are too many very old red currant plants that have not been pruned for a long time and are only half-lived, mossy: so it is basically a good horticultural deed to plant a new currant! When planting, make sure that you plant the currant bushes deep, so that as many dormant buds as possible rest hidden in the ground, which can develop into fresh new shoots in the next few years. There is one crucial equation to consider when planting red currants: new fresh shoots mean more and better yield and also better fruit quality. Before planting the red currant plants, the roots grown in the pot in the nursery should also be radically torn open and spread out to give the plant a quick and targeted start in its new location.

Planting distance

The distance for red currant plants, which will be regularly pruned and tapered later, is 100-120 cm. A spindle can be planted to about 50-80 cm, and for a three-branch hedge as well as for currant standards we calculate a distance of 100 cm.

Good locations

Ultimately, the requirements of these currants are modest because they can cope with almost any soil and location. Unfortunately, many red currant growers draw the wrong conclusion from this, that they should be planted in the worst place in the garden. This must be vehemently contradicted here: they need good ventilation for their leaf health, so please do not plant in a windless corner! And they need strong new growth - so choose a deep soil, which is regularly well fertilised, and which is regularly nourished with manure and compost and, if necessary, with mineral fertiliser. Only this leads to strong and healthy growth, which in turn produces good fruit quality and high yields. The most and best fruits are found on 2 and 3-year-old currants.

Finally, I often hear the question of whether red currants need sun at all, they remain sour anyway. Such a statement naturally hurts the currant lover. My answer is this: in order to develop a good aroma, red currants need at least half a day of sunlight, for blackcurrants more sunlight is clearly noticeable when the sugar content increases again.

Fertilising red currant plants

On our red currant plant labels, we write somewhat provocatively that they can almost never be fertilised too much. And there is a lot of truth in this: I have never experienced it before that very much fertiliser in red currants led to salinisation and over-fertilisation damage. More fertiliser actually always seems to lead to more growth - and that is exactly what we want! We recommend adding compost to the red currants every year and hoeing them in the spring; in addition to this, apply 50 g of Frutilizer Compound Fertiliser Plus per shrub or m² in March and May. If the red currant plant is growing very well and especially in very good soil, the fertiliser level can also be reduced a little.

Pruning

Red currants should be pruned regularly and strongly, that is ultimately the decisive secret of successful currant cultivation. The strong cut, together with a high level of fertiliser, stimulates the red currant to grow more, and the result (much larger berries, more fruit, less fruit drop) can be seen on the 2 and 3-year-old shoots. The time for pruning red currants is early spring, just before budding. Only in this way can the desired growth reaction of the plant be achieved. The advice sometimes was given to cut these currants after harvesting lacks any foundation: after harvesting, the bush is exhausted and no longer able to produce new shoots and branches that are needed for the future good yield.

In detail, the various forms of red currant must be pruned as follows:
 

1) Pruning a red currant bush

There is actually only one way to prune a currant bush: cut out entire shoots completely. The main purpose of this is to remove the oldest shoots, which have been bearing fruit for years and which are heavily woody. Overall, the rule can be applied that about 20% of the oldest shoots should be removed to the ground every year.
 

2) Pruning a red currant standard

A red currant standard is ultimately a bush on a raised ground floor, (not quite) floating freely at a height of approx. 70-100 cm. This high-stemmed bush must ultimately be pruned in exactly the same way as a shrub: every year, 20% of the oldest shoots must be removed right down to the inside of the crown. A small stubshould always be left behind so that new shoots can grow out from here. In addition, the shoots on the trunk and the bottom shoots of the red currant standard should be removed as early as possible: they do not come from the cultivated variety but from the root and stem-forming variety Ribes aureum, which is used as a rootstock and stem for red currant grafting. The red currant itself is only present at the top of the crown; it has been grafted onto the Ribes aureum rootstock at a height of approx. 80 cm in the nursery.
 

3) Pruning a currant spindle or three-branch hedge

In the case of the spindle shape or three-branch hedges, we select 1 or 3 longer-term branches in contrast to the shrub shape which is constantly being renewed. And instead of removing the shoots again and again and replanting new ones, new wood is produced on these scaffolds, which then bears the best and most beautiful fruits in the second and third year. After 3-4 years, the wood is cut back to stubs on the scaffolding branches in the hope that new branches will emerge from these stubs later. Ground shoots, which are not uncommon in a plant such as the currant (which prefers to renew itself from below, from the ground), must be constantly removed and are only re-grown when a scaffolding branch begins to weaken and is not able to produce new wood and bear good harvests.

The Ribest® - Cultivation at Lubera® - Germany

In the modification of the botanical generic name for currants 'Ribes' we call our self-bred varieties Ribest® currants. A not quite modest claim - but we are very proud of the fact that with our new currant varieties we have succeeded in improving the red currant plants in various ways. Bigger fruits (Ribest® Babette® and Ribest® Lisette®), less fruit drop (Ribest® Babette®), the biggest and most beautiful strings (Ribest® Decorette®), late-ripening until August (Ribest® Violette® and Ribest® Sonette®) and finally also sweeter varieties like Ribest® Susette®. What we are still waiting for in the breeding of red currants is the unification of all these good new characteristics in one plant. In my opinion, the fruit size (better ratio of pulp to seed) and also the mild to sweet taste is the most important breeding objectives besides disease resistance. Nowadays, we breeders are often accused that we put too much sugar (the unhealthy fructose!) into the fruits; it will take some time until this accusation reaches the currants as well. The Ribest® varieties are also largely free of mildew, which is quite common in some old varieties like Red Lake.

Names

Let us begin with the strangest name, the botanical name Ribes. Although red currants are called Ribes rubrum (in contrast to Ribes nigrum, the blackcurrants), the origin of the botanical Latin main name 'Ribes' is the actually exciting case: 'Ribe' is said to descend from a rhubarb subspecies, the Lebanon rhubarb 'Rheum ribes', which was already known to the Arabs. The scholars of the early modern age, who drew all their knowledge either from antiquity or from the Arab scholars of the medieval Arab world empire, simply lacked a name for the new plant, which slowly invaded the gardens from the wild. And so they chose the name 'Ribes' for the currant (see our separate article on the names of currants.) Ribesel, as the Austrians and South Tyroleans call their red currants, goes back to the Latin-Italian Ribes and makes it even more likeable with the diminutive form. With 'Ribisel' one seems to see the red berries on the long strings, destemming them and stuffing them into the mouth! Some other currant names such as currant and cassis refer primarily to the blackcurrants. It is interesting to note that the origin of the local names is always more closely related to the type of currant more popular in these regions (Ribes rubrum red or Ribes nigrum black). In Switzerland, red currants are the most common, while blackcurrants are only a shadowy existence. So dialect names were found mainly for the red currants: Trübeli and Meertrübeli: Trübeli is clear; it refers with the diminutive to the small clusters, strings. With Meertrübeli, the riddle of the sea (Meer) is unsolved. It seems most obvious to me that the 'meer' is actually more like 'mehr' in German: because on the currant strings really hang many single berries, many more berries that can be found on old grape varieties...

The history of red currant plants in the garden

The history of red currant plants in the garden is quite young. It was not until the 14th or 15th century that red currants appeared more frequently in descriptions and herbaria, and it was obvious at this time that they came to the attention of botanical and medical learned authors. The first illustration of red currants is found in the Mainz Herbarium of 1484. Konrad Gessner, the well-known Swiss naturalist and botanical pioneer, described a wild Ribes pertraeum near Bern in 1561, and this species was later introduced in England and certainly hybridised with other garden varieties of red currant plants. In the 16th century, the red currant first established itself as a garden plant in Holland (where the grapevine was really not an alternative) and in the 17th century, the first variety descriptions were published, including white albino forms such as White Dutch, which are often and correctly called sweeter (than the red currants). The variety progress in the following centuries is not really very fast, and it is only in the 20th century that red currant breeding programmes are established in the USA (Red Lake), in Holland (J. Maarse with his variety Jonkheer van Tets), and later also in Eastern Europe, to the same extent, as the red currant is inexorably establishing itself in almost every garden as a - however rather neglected - garden plant. Incidentally, early settlers had also brought the red currant to America, probably to Massachusetts, in the early 17th century. In the 19th century, many varieties were also developed in North America, e.g. Fay's Prolific and many other varieties, but most of them were found by chance. In the 1920s and 1930s, when it was suspected that currants (like gooseberries and blackcurrants) could also be responsible for the White Pine Blister Rust, most states introduced a somewhat arbitrary ban on innocent red currant plants, which was only lifted in recent decades in most East and West Coast states (see the article on gooseberries, where the history of the attempted extinction of the Ribes in the USA is described in detail).

Red currants and health

In principle, there is only one fact that somewhat limits the health potency of red currants: blackcurrants are even healthier. ;-) Red currants are characterised above all by their high vitamin C content (more than half a daily requirement), a lot of iron and potassium. In addition, they have high levels of pectins, fibres and dietary fibres, which are beneficial to healthy digestion. In one area, however, the red currants beat the blackcurrants, probably also because of their lower sugar content: they only have about 30-10 kcal per 100 grams - which will certainly not make anyone fat. Nevertheless, we think that the red currants, despite all of the freshness, all of the healthy acidity, all of the healthy ingredients and all of the beauty, could still tolerate a little more sugar, as it is shown for example in the sweetest modern Ribest® Susette.

The health value of these currants is not a very recent invention, that spills into our kitchens and onto our plates like all the super fruits and the inevitable superfood: the health value has been known since ancient times. One of the reasons why the scholars of the early modern age chose the name of the currant in analogy to the sour Lebanon Rheum ribes is probably - apart from the sour taste - also the fact that both plants' decoctions and syrups were considered very healthy by both the Arabs (who, however, could not know the currant) and the early doctors and physicians.

Are there also sweet red currant varieties?

This is the big goal of all red currant plant breeeder...and perhaps the reason why there are so few because this goal is so difficult to achieve. With our variety Ribest® Susette®, we have already reached a nice intermediate goal with the strongly reduced acidity and the perceptible sugar. But it is rather difficult to achieve progress and results in this area - more sugar in red currants - even with large breeding populations. But we are still working on it and hope for a lucky punch...

Can red currant plants also be grown in a pot or container?

Growing red currant plants in pots is certainly possible - but does it make sense? There is one argument in favour: red currant plants are very attractive at the time of flowering and then also after the colour change; they are ornamental in the truest sense of the word. But does it make sense to keep them in a container for this reason, if all the beauty only lasts 1-2 months a year? In addition, after the longest day, the red currant foliage does not become more beautiful, on the contrary. The growth of the red currant begins very early - and ends early. Conclusion: red currant plants can be grown without any problems in tubs of 25 L and above, provided that they are strongly pruned and sufficiently fertilised, but you have to be aware of the limitations of the plant. I recommend the proud red currant standards, which have something formal, beautiful and ornamental about the shape of the tree. With a nice underplanting with perennials, you can also ensure that the pot or container remains attractive when the plant is just taking a break at the top (August to September) and is preparing intensively for next year's yield.

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