Can I replace my Alpine currant with some better currants?

olreaderDecember 11, 2013

The bush with fall color on the left is a Ribes alpinum according to a tag. I have never seen any flowers or berries but maybe I haven't looked close enough. I saw some posts on gardenweb that say you need multiple currant plants to get fruit?

This is in Colorado near Denver and the picture is looking north, so there is plenty of sun and wind, and not too much rain but occasional watering wouldn't be a problem The Ribes alpinum is very vigorous and hardy and I like how tall it is. Would another kind of tastier? currant grow well in this location? How big would they get eventually? I want a big bush, and I would be satisfied with a few handfuls of fruit. How many bushes should I plant to set fruit?

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I saw your post on the Shrub Forum and I think the first thing to do would be to post a close up of the plant in question. Any advice would need to start with a positive id of both your shrubs which can't be done from this distance. If your shrub does turn out to be Alpine Currant you then need to decide what you want from it.
It's main advantages are extreme hardiness and the ability to remain densly foliaged in shade. Yours is in full sun and there are a lot of alternatives for that situation. Ribes alpinum is not grown for fruit, flowers or Autumn colour. If you can say which of these features you are looking for people can start to come up with suggestions.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 3:35PM
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It's winter now but here's how I id'ed it.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 4:23PM
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The leaves look like Ribes to me when green, kind of hand shaped.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Floral UK is correct. Go to the Nourse Farms Berry site and select from their excellent choices of hardy currants. You will get a very small amount of berries from your shrub, but it is not a variety grown for a crop! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Thanks floral_uk! I think these are my main wishes in order of importance:
1) big size eventually, 5 feet or taller, something that can be appreciated from a distance
2) fruit would be great
3) I love fall color, but often we get an early freeze or snow and all the leaves fall off before there is much time to appreciate them
4) flowers are also nice.

Since this is the fruit forum, I will say that we have some raspberry bushes on the north side of the house and we don't get too many berries but we love them.

Maybe I could consider small flowering fruit trees like cherries, apples, etc? the space is eight feet wide and small enough that I could replace a lot of the soil if I needed to.

I am thinking of planting edible bushes/trees in other places, things like serviceberries, mulberries, maybe some other ornamental bushes that also give edible berries.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 4:55PM
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olreader I am NW of you at 8300' elevation in CO. We have quite a few native currants and they do just fine here, without protection, watering or other niceties. They produce a crop most every year, 1/4" diam currents with seeds. Birds get most of them.

I mention this just to let you know that it is certainly possible to get a crop of currants down in Denver. There are some varieties of currants which produce much larger fruit. I have one such bush (sorry don't recall the variety) that I picked up at Harlequin Gardens in Boulder, that has survived here and produces fruit each summer.

I think with the right choice of variety, you should be able to do what you want.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 10:49PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Elderberries might be a choice too. Nice flowers, it produces fruit, and they grow tall. Look at local nurseries or ask for varieties that grow well in your area.
Look for another currant too, nice to have!!
Cherry or apple trees will require spraying. Mulberries will not. Serviceberries like autumn brilliance have ornamental value, but Northline and others have better tasting fruit.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 11:15PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

In Denver we have alkaline soil and I'm not sure how elderberries would do here.

You can get Regent and maybe other Saskatoon berries at local nurseries.

I would consider planting peaches. They grow well here because we have an arid climate. They would do well on the north side of the house which protects them from Colorado's bi-polar weather. They will need summer sun though, so if it's a completely shaded area that will change things.

I will also suggest rhubarb. It is very beautiful with it's large leaves, is disease and pest free, cold hardy, and it provides a long period of harvest. You could put in a few plants below your peach trees too. Nothing is better than rhubarb pie (w/o strawberries to detract from the taste) and it makes a great syrup. It freezes well also.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 5:04PM
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Thanks everyone for all the great ideas. Floral_uk, I would be happy to hear any suggestions you have, fruit bearing or not. And especially for something large sized that won't overhang my neighbor's property and be sheared off by his lawn service.

MrsG47 and Steve333, I think I will try to plant some kind of blackcurrant or red currant in the empty spaces and see how that goes. I don't mind feeding the birds.

I have thought about elderberries but maybe for my back yard which gets lots of water from the lawn irrigation system. That's also where I thought about planting the serviceberries eventually, I will look up the varieties you have named, milehighgirl and Drew51.

And the peach is a good idea, I have also read that apricot has very attractive foliage. I realize that many years there won't be a fruit crop because of frosts during spring (like this year for example). Rhubarb is a good idea too but making pie and jam is bad for my diet :).

But to get back to what Floral_uk said--in this spot next to the garage with southern exposure, I think I should plant something that will really take advantage of the sun.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 6:11PM
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I also want to try some nut trees if possible. Maybe some kind of hazelnut? Again, I realize that I won't get a good crop every year.

I don't know if any kind of tree would really fit well in this small space (8 ft wide). Maybe I should limit myself to bushes.

This post was edited by olreader on Thu, Dec 12, 13 at 18:18

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 6:12PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

You might consider a clove currant. It is sweeter than the standard currents, grows 4-6 feet for me. Leaves are very early to come out in the spring, they bloom in late April or May with bright yellow flowers with a red center, extremely fragrant with the scent of cloves and spice. You get nice fruit later in the summer, 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter and much of it will dry and hang on the plant into winter. In fall, the leaves will get a very nice orange-red. Best of all, no thorns. These currants grow wild throughout the region and will be perfectly hardy.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 1:24AM
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