currants +/or gooseberries

dirtdoctortoo(z4b/5a IA)March 23, 2006

Does anyone have experience with these? I am toying with the idea of planting either of these as a shrub border to screen an unsightly view. The area is decent soil, full sun, but gets quite a bit of wind. In the past highbush cranberries and a mock orange grew well in this area. (Had to take them out when put in the garage)

How full/tall do gooseberries really grow? We had wild ones back home in eastern Nebraska that tolerated shade but they were spindly things that only got about 3 to 4 feet high. That may have been a function of the shade.

I have no experience with currants. In reading about them it sounds like they grow taller which would be desirable. I'd like something that grows 5 to 8 feet high but not taller or it will cast too much shade. Something that bears edible fruit would be wonderful even if the birds get most of it. How full do currants grow? Will they be dense enough to block the view?

If anyone has any experience with these or suggestions regarding specific cultivars I'd love to hear from you.



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Unfortunately, I can't comment on growing gooseberries/currants. Something to consider, especially if you have eastern white pines around, is choosing varieties that are resistant to white pine blister rust. The link below gives a list of approved (in New Hampshire) cultivars to grow.

Here is a link that might be useful: Approved Resistant Ribes

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 12:07PM
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dirtdoctortoo(z4b/5a IA)

We don't have any white pines around but thanks for the info. mmo

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 6:54PM
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mike_n_sheri(z4/5 IA)

We have some very old currant shrubs here. They are not very dense at all, but they are all in a shady area. In a sunny area they might do better. I am not sure what variety of currant I have, but they top out at about 4 feet. I have planted a few newer shrubs (alpine currants I believe), but they are slow growers in general. I have planted some Honeysuckles recently for a screen. The birds love them and they grow fast...get about 6 feet tall. Bridal wreath spirea is also a good screen here, grows fast, and the birds love to hang out there too.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 11:42PM
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I think your looking in a too short of range. Gooseberries or currents are not considered good screen plants. There are many plants that get taller than what you require, but you can keep them pruned and they will become thicker with each pruning.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 7:37PM
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dirtdoctortoo(z4b/5a IA)

Thank you for the info on the currants. They don't sound like what I'm needing for this spot. Bridal wreath spirea is one of my top contenders for this spot. So are the high bush cranberries. I wanted to explore other possibilities though before I went with those. mmo

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 1:51PM
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prairiegal(4/5 NW Iowa)

Have you considered elderberries, instead of currants? They grow into a fairly tall hedge--about ten feet--and they're at the TOP of the list for native shrubs for birds, in the Midwest.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 1:39AM
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dirtdoctortoo(z4b/5a IA)

Elderberries are a good idea. If I go with those I don't want the new black lace variety or the tiger eye yellow ones I keep seeing hyped. I'd want old-fashioned ones like grow on the creek banks.

I also thought about sumac but I was afraid of getting contact dermatitis from them. Since I have young kids that would likely play around the hedge that's probably a no-go.

There's a lot of stuff I could probably trim to keep shorter/bushier but I know it would get away from me. It's better for me to figure in the neglect factor at the beginning. After all the 30 foot tall scrub elms that I am slowly taking out from the perimeter of the yard started out to be a tall hedge.

As a temporizing measure this year I'm setting my huge pots of lemon grass out on the tree stumps for an ersatz hedge while I plan this out. Thanks to all for your suggestions.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 6:58PM
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prairiegal(4/5 NW Iowa)

Hi, Maria,

I see you're "on the edge" zonewise, too. I'm honestly confused, now that the new USDA hardiness map is out. I used to be firmly in zone 4b, but now it appears I'm in 5a..Hooray! Cause for celebration (except, of course, this may be yet another evidence of globaly warming)....except when you look at a really persnickity close-up of Cherokee County, and see this nasty little tongue of zone 4 creeping down to my house. ;-)

Where are you?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 12:33AM
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dirtdoctortoo(z4b/5a IA)


Eastern Story County. If you draw a triangle between DesMoines, Ames and Marshalltown Collins is in the dead center of it. mmo

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 2:25PM
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My black currents have grown into large,beautiful bushes without much care.The only thing is I don't get many berries.Maybe pollinators aren't attracted to the tart of the bush I don't know,I would like some advice.

Also,my gooseberries have grown quite well without much care,and do have many berries to pick.

As far as elderberries go,if you have deer you can say goodbye to them.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 1:05PM
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Alpine currant is grown for a hedge, very thick and upright, but no berries. Elk River and King Edward are flowering, but not noted for berries. Red Lake is more spreading with chains of red berries that can pull spreading branchs down to the ground, where they will start to put out roots and grow another bush. If you want a hedge that will keep poeple out, go with gooseberry, with the thorns and upright growth they make a mean headge.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 11:39PM
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dirtdoctortoo(z4b/5a IA)

Put a couple of gooseberries in last spring in a partly shaded area. We'll see how they do. That is if the rabbits don't get them. Hey, they're under 18 inches of snow right now so they should be safe.

The area I originally considered them for is still a question mark for me. I was given some daylillies, grasses, etc by a good friend so I set them out in a berm type planting. I also put up a trellis and ran pole beans up it. Hog panels painted with green rustoleum don't look too bad when they're covered with beans. I may try scarlet runner beans up it next year.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 7:43PM
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mark_roeder(4B IA)

My gooseberry is low and spreading. I thought it would grow on the north side of the house. It would not, so I moved it to full sun where it has done well.

My red currant is still on north side of the house and gets berries. It is an attractive upright bush, but not too full. The berries are small, tart, and from one bush fill the bottom of a small bowl 2-3 deep in the bowl. The berries are brilliant red. Makes a nice snack for my teenage daughter, but not enough to do much with.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 2:08AM
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Hello What is this on the under side of my Gooseberry leaves. Is there a cure for it?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 6:25PM
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lee_in_iowa(4 to 5 (on the line))

I have both currants and gooseberries in Des Moines (and had them in Columbus, OH, also). Neither are good for hedges or screening. Even in full sun, they're low-growing and scrawny.

Also, the elderberries someone suggested are a very tall plant, but not that filled out in the middle, so also not a good hedge or visual barrier (not to mention how they wander all around the yard and come and go from year to year).

For a hedge-like food plant, I think the Nanking cherries I have are the best possibility. Nice thick growth, responsive to pruning into a bush or hedge shape, and covered the sour cherries in the spring (but net them if you want any; the birds love 'em).

I have a couple of black currant bushes, but neither is growing well enough to suggest whether they'll eventually become "hedge" material. I also planted the honeyberry bush (blueberry-like but w/o the requirement of acid soil), and those are simply puny.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 4:10PM
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