Ribes rubrum 'Red Lake'

Common Name: red currant
Type: Fruit
Family: Grossulariaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Greenish-yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Rabbit

Culture

Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers cool summer climates. Some part afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates such as the St. Louis area. Best sited in locations protected from strong winter winds and frost pockets. Appreciates a good organic mulch for the root zone. Water regularly as needed to keep soils uniformly moist. Avoid overhead watering however. Plants are self-fertile. Often sold as bare root plants by nurseries. Space 3' apart. Prune as needed during the dormant season. It is generally recommended that stems older than 3 years on red currants be removed. May take 4-5 years for plants to become well-established and reach full fruit-bearing potential.

Noteworthy Characteristics

'Red Lake' is a red currant cultivar which is grown primarily for fruit production. It is a compact, mounding, deciduous shrub which grows 3-5' tall. Clusters of greenish-yellow flowers bloom in spring, and are noticeable but not particularly ornamental. Flowers give way to long, pendant clusters of bright red currants which ripen in July. Medium green leaves are 3-5 lobed, and are aromatic when crushed. Red currants, although tart, may be eaten ripe off the shrub, but are perhaps more often harvested to make jams, jellies and pies.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. In wet, humid conditions, anthracnose, powdery mildew and fungal leaf spot can be troublesome. Currant aphid, scale, currant bud mite and currant fruit fly are potential insect pests in some areas. Although much less so than with black currants (Ribes nigrum), red currants can be an alternate host for white pine blister rust, a usually fatal disease for white pines. Fourteen (14) states currently maintain various types of bans on Ribes species plants, the most restrictive being the total ban on all Ribes plants in North Carolina. Missouri has no restrictions. Notwithstanding state and local legislation, currants should not be planted in any area where the disease is prevalent (particularly the East and Northwest). In areas where the disease is not prevalent (such as Missouri), it is still best to avoid planting currants in locations where white pines are growing unless rust-immune cultivars are used.

Garden Uses

Fruit or vegetable gardens. Can also make an attractive ornamental hedge in the landscape.