propagating currants

this last spring i did a decent job of propagating currants and gooseberries from cuttings.  i pretty much just took some cuttings and stuck them in pots.  i’d say i had about a 50% success rate getting them to take root, and if i hadn’t forgotten about then and neglected to water them, i’d have a bunch of new currant and gooseberries ready to plant out next year.

after that experience i felt i needed to properly reasearch how to propagate currants and gooseberries.  i’m lucky enough to have received a copy of the book small fruit management from my mother in law.  both she and my mother are librarians, helping to feed my book addiction with weeded books and those that are going to be offered in the book sale.  just this last week my mother picked up  foxfire volumes 1-9 for me, so you know there are gonna be posts on snake handling, and basket weaving before you know it.

so based on expert recommendations i present how to propagate currants.

step on 1. selecting proper wood

old and new currant canes

so i don’t know how well you can tell this, but the cane on the top is about a 3 year old cane, the one on the bottom is a 1 year old cane.  you want the one on the bottom.  a couple of things help make them distinctive, young canes are a lighter brown, are less woody, and have tighter buds.  once you are out in the currant patch it’s pretty obvious of the difference.  you want to cut the young canes about 12 inches long.  the best time as far as i can tell to do this is late fall, when the canes are dormant, but the ground is not frozen, in other words a time like last week.

step 2 remove the buds.


the word bud always makes me think of the cosby show, as rudy’s best friend was this kid that she called “bud” but that wasn’t his name, it was kenny.  why i don’t know.  on the bottom of you currant cane you want to make a cut just below a bud, at a bit of an angle. and then remove all the buds on the bottom 6 inches.

step 3 cut the tip

tip of currant cane cut

this picture shows how lousy a job i did at cutting the tip.  the ones in the spring i didn’t do this with and they managed to root fine, but upon more reflection i felt this did make good sense, as it breaks the apical dominance that the tip of the cane has, and forces it to bush out.

step 4 – stick it in the ground

pushing currant into the ground

stick it in 6 inches deep, up to where you striped off all the buds.

step 5 – cover with straw

currants covered with straw

i don’t know how necessary this is, but it seemed to make sense to me. the straw should help regulate the temperature and keep the canes from heaving out during the winter.   i spaced the currants about 6 inches apart, and then covered everyone in a think layer of straw, i’ll cover it in some more when that starts to mat down.  gooseberries are pretty much the same, only it’s recommended that the canes be a little longer.  with any luck these guys should make it though the winter and start leafing out in the spring.  they spend a season in that spot, and the next year they are ready to get planted where ever you want them.


One response to “propagating currants

  1. Pingback: currants coming on in full force. « little house on the urban prairie

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