Common Name : Black currant Ben Sarek
Scientific Name : Ribes nigrum ‘Ben Sarek’
Zone : 3 to 7
Height : 3 to 4 feet
Width : 3 to 4 feet
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 compost 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 2 years on black currants be removed. May take 4-5 years for plants to become well-established and reach full fruit-bearing potential.
‘Ben Sarek’ is a black currant cultivar which is grown primarily for fruit production. It is a compact, mounding, deciduous shrub which grows 3-4′ tall. Clusters of greenish-yellow flowers bloom in spring, and are noticeable but not particularly ornamental. Flowers give way to long, pendant clusters of black currants which ripen in June-July. Medium green leaves are 3-5 lobed, and are aromatic when crushed. Currants may be eaten ripe off the shrub or used to make jams, jellies and pies.
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. Black currants are an alternate host for white pine blister rust, a usually fatal disease for white pines. Fourteen 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. Notwithstanding state and local legislation, black currants should not be planted in any area where the disease is prevalent. In areas where the disease is not prevalent, it is still best to avoid planting black currents in locations where white pines are growing unless rust-immune cultivars (e.g., ‘Consort’) are used.
Garden uses :
Fruit or vegetable gardens. Can also make an attractive ornamental hedge in the landscape.