Blackcurrants prefer full sun, but will do well in partial shade. They will tolerate most types of soil, however whatever the condition of the soil mix in plenty of organic material or manure before planting (and top dress the soil around the plant with well-rotted manure every year in spring).
You should also avoid pockets and hollows that are subject to late frosts, as this will damage the flowering buds and stop the bush producing fruit. Birds will strip the tree of berries as they ripen given half a chance, so if you have the space it’s well worth considering planting blackcurrants in a fruit cage.
Blackcurrants can grow to be fairly large plants, reaching a final spread and height of 5ft, so bear this in mind and leave plenty of space (especially if planting in a cage). A mature bush will yield about 5-7Kg of fruit.
Pot grown bushes can be planted at any time of year, however for best results plant bare rooted bushes in November. Always buy your plants from a reputable nursery or mail order company to ensure a disease free plant.
To plant dig a hole wide enough for roots to spread out, and deep enough so that when the soil is replaced the old soil mark should be about 2in underground (so plant them deeper than they were previously grown). Then cut back all stems to a bud 1-2in above the ground – this will encourage new growth for next year, and the bush will fruit in the third year.
Each year cut out about a third of the fruited branches at ground level to make room for new shoots. Always cut out the oldest shoots (no shoots should be more than 4 years old), and any that look unhealthy or diseased.
Feeding and Mulching
Add a layer of well-rotted manure or compost in March. This will help keep the weeds down and keep the soil cool and moist.
You should also keep the area weed free, but be careful not to use the hoe too much, as blackcurrants have shallow roots and you can really damage the roots, it is far better to weed by hand.
Take 10in cuttings from the new season wood in October, choosing stems that are pencil thick. Make a sloping cut at the top (to allow water to run off), and a straight cut at the bottom (to allow the cuting to root better), and insert into a trench leaving only 2 buds above ground.
There are a number of traditional varieties available including Wellington XXX, or Baldwin, however if space is limited I highly recommend looking out for the Ben varieties. These are newer varieties and are disease resistant, fruit later (reducing the risk of frost) and have a more compact habit.