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Blackcurrant Spring Pruning Query - Newbie Questions

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  • Blackcurrant Spring Pruning Query - Newbie Questions

    I have two Blackcurrant trees which i bought last year hoping to move somewhere with a garden - it has taken me that long and now i am about to move in a couple of months to a garden flat

    my trees are in large pots ( i have been trying to upload pictures with no luck yet! )
    placed in a south facing window with full sun during the daytime
    both plants are standing a metre tall
    and have 5 branches each - 2 large branches and surrounding little branches
    they haven't fruited at all last season
    not once have they been pruned
    all their leaves fell off a month ago and the tree in the larger pot is now putting out some small leaves
    the tree in the smaller pot has tight buds that are staying put

    i have been reading and watching videos - Blackcurrants are my favourite and I am determined to learn from my mistakes and get this right

    So far i gather that my main mistakes are
    they are not in the ground where they want to be ( they will be soon )
    the crotch / base cluster of the branches are not beneath the soil layer
    the two trees have not been pruned at all

    It is now Febuary, all the instructions I have seen are for Summer / Winter Pruning and almost always mention pruning Fruited Branches , which confuses me as to prune or not, as these plants have not fruited since I bought them last year

    I was thinking I should get some larger vessels and submerge the crotch beneath the soil layer, with some manure or rotted compost in the soil and prune them right down to the first few signs of life, and then transplant them when I move

    Is this a bad idea, seeing as there is already activity at the top of the branches?
    Should I just take out the smaller branches?

    They don't look to be growing all that well. I have grown many types of plants with success but his is my first grow with fruit trees and any help would be greatly appreciated.

    I am brand new to this site and this is my first post.
    I have taken pictures with my digital camera that keep coming up with an error/fail message after waiting for them to load as an attachment

    All The Best

  • #2
    Don't prune.
    The fruit grows on older wood.

    My dad's advice on pruning blackcurrants was:
    Wait until the berries are ready to pick. Take secateurs and cut off the branches with fruit in. Put them on a table and sit down and remove fruit from branches. Pruning is then done and fruit picked without you breaking your back.

    I then stick the twigs cut off in a bucket of water and leave until they've rooted. You've then got blackcurrant plants.

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    • #3
      If you don't know what you are doing, don't prune!

      Comment


      • #4
        The theory with established blackcurrant bushes is that approximately one third of the old wood should be cut out annually. Your bushes are not yet established and you say you intend moving them directly in to the ground. Without seeing your bushes, I can't form an opinion as to whether they need pruning but I honestly doubt it. I should be on commission for this (or at least buy up all available copies of this book and try to sell it myself) but treat yourself to a copy of the RHS book on soft fruit by Harry Baker. ISBN 0 85533 193 3. Usually second hand copies on Amazon for a few pence + postage. There are some very understandable sketches of how to prune in that book.

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        • #5
          As mentioned earlier: currants (and many other fruits) produce the fruit on older woody stems. Pruning a currant completely to the ground will result in regrowth but no fruit for two years.

          Your plants are possibly not growing well because a pot restricts the roots from searching far and wide for nutrients and water. Potted plants also tend to need a lot of watering as the soil/compost in pots tend to dry quickly.

          Also fruit plants also require the varied temperatures of the four seasons, and the gradual drift in temperature from cold winter to cool spring to summer to cool autumn to winter in order to behave normally.
          A long period of winter cold and a few months of dormancy are usually required in order to initiate proper flowering and fruiting.
          But just chucking them outside on a frosty night may do more harm than good as they will not have had the time required to acclimatise ("harden-off") to the cooler weather of winter.
          Without proper winter chill, fruit plants - especially currants - may be weedy and sickly. Currants sometimes won't grow well in the milder parts of the South of the UK because of the lack of winter cold.

          Probably 1000 hours below 5'C (about a month and a half continuous, or about 3-5 months on-off cold nights of winter) would be required to make them happy. On a windowsill they won't get any time below 5'C.
          .

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          • #6
            Blackcurrants aren't trees, they're bushes, about five feet wide and tall when fully grown


            Don't go and try pruning them into a tree shape
            All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm a bit surprised by what I'm reading here. I prune my black currants by cutting back all old wood (I do this during the harvest). The fruit grows every year on the newly developed shoots.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by sugar View Post
                I prune my black currants by cutting back all old wood
                You're meant to cut out a third of the oldest wood every year. I'm a bit lazy, so I just cut off the fruiting branches at the time of harvesting.
                All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by sugar View Post
                  I'm a bit surprised by what I'm reading here. I prune my black currants by cutting back all old wood (I do this during the harvest). The fruit grows every year on the newly developed shoots.
                  Maybe it's to do with climate, or variety (e.g. similar to autumn-fruiting raspberries or certain blackberry-raspberry hybrids)?

                  My currants will probably flower in a few weeks. If they were cut to the ground there would be no growth able to flower.
                  .

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by FB. View Post
                    Maybe it's to do with climate, or variety (e.g. similar to autumn-fruiting raspberries or certain blackberry-raspberry hybrids)?

                    My currants will probably flower in a few weeks. If they were cut to the ground there would be no growth able to flower.
                    No, we cut them back during harvest, more precisely we cut of the branches when harvesting. makes it easier to collect the berries.

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                    • #11
                      Thank you all for your advice and I am sorry for taking so long to reply. I realise I may have sparained the dynamic of my plants for this season and do my best and hope they have a more natural environment in the future.
                      I bought the Harry Baker Fruit book recomended from ebay for 2.50 (!) donated some money at the same time ( a charity commision from you Aberdeenplotter) and have it now with me to read. I hadn't seen the great section on this site on Blackcurrant Growing until I had posted my query

                      I will try and get some before and after pictures posted as my hobby progresses

                      Thanks again!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Kitzoey.

                        I have two sources I treat as my bible on fruit growing. The first is the Harry Baker book I mentioned, the other is our fellow member FB who really isn't just the bible, more godlike in fact in my eyes.

                        If you do decide to prune a few bits off your bushes, make a slit in the ground in an out of the way bit of your garden and pop the cuttings in there. This time next year, you will have some baby plants. They really are that easy to propagate.

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                        • #13
                          Hi, I'd just like to say thank you for the advice - I bought the RHS book and had my first blackcurrants this summer

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                          • #14
                            Wow. A response after a year and a half
                            Well done with your berries
                            It's a great book

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                            • #15
                              Is nice to have a rounded 'end' to a post. Glad you had some berries too. I have 4 in pots outside on the plot and they do very well.
                              http://mudandgluts.com - growing fruit and veg in suburbia

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