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


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 provide consistent moisture for the soils. Avoid overhead watering however. Plants are self-fertile. They are 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. It may take 4-5 years for plants to become well-established and reach full fruit-bearing potential.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ribes rubrum, commonly called red currant is grown primarily for its fruit.

The genus name Ribes is derived from the Arabic ribas, the name used for Rheum ribes (Syrian rhubarb), an unrelated, wild rhubarb species. European herbalists possibly connected the two due to the acidic flavor of the flowering stem of R. ribes, or the visually similar panicles of red fruits.

Specific epithet means red.

'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.


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. Currants are an alternate host for white pine blister rust, a usually fatal disease for white pines. Ten states primarily in the eastern United States currently maintain various types of bans on Ribes species plants. Contact your local Extension Service to verify if these plants can be grown in your area. Missouri has no restrictions. Notwithstanding state and local legislation, currants should not be planted in any area where the disease is prevalent. In areas where the disease is not prevalent (such as Missouri), it is still best to avoid planting currents in locations where white pines are growing unless rust-resistant cultivars are used.


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