A Must-Have Shrub for all Gardens
Common Name: Flowering Currant
Botanical Name: Ribes sanguineum
Form: upright arching to rounded
Species: sanguineum (blood red)
Plant Type: broadleaf multistemmed deciduous shrub
Mature Size: 5 - 8 ft tall and 3 - 5 ft wide
Origin: native to British Columbia to northern California
Hardiness Zone: 6 to 10
Foliage: Alternate, simple with 3 to 5 rounded lobes, dark green, doubly serrated, appear ruffled, slightly hairy and paler underneath. Yellow to red autumn colours.
Flowers: clusters of 10 to 30 red, pink or white pendulous long racemes up to 8 cm long of ½ cm tubular flowers, March, April.
Fruit: dark blue with a thin waxy coating, up to 9 mm long, edible, but not flavourful, suitable for jam and jellies
Stems: Thin orange or red stems that mature to greyish brown.
Exposure: sun to partial shade
Soil: soil tolerant, well-drained, moderately fertile soils, neutral or slightly acidic pH, clay soils, organic mulch beneficial, drought tolerant once established
Uses: foundation plantings, massing, mixed border, native, hedge row, small garden, woodland margin, humming birds, birds, butterflies
Propagation: soft wood cuttings in spring, semi-hard wood in summer and hard wood cuttings in winter, heel-cuttings November to February, refrigerate seeds for 3 months then sow.
Pruning: Prune after flowering by 1/3rd, if needed.
Problems: Don't plant near pine trees as they host white pine blister rust. Susceptible to honey fungus.
Cultivars: numerous ones available including ‘White Icicle’ with white flowers, ‘Poky's Pig’ pink flowers, and a compacted cultivar is ‘King Edward VII’, which has deep red flowers.
Comments: A beautiful and reliable native shrub. Flower clusters, shaped like grapes, dangle in profusion in early spring. Many birds enjoy these lovely flowers as well as hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Their small edible, but not tasty fruit, are suitable for jams and other preserves, plus they provide food for birds and other wildlife.