Ribes hirtellum

Check out our wonderful selection of gooseberries!

Gooseberries are highly prized in Europe. It is considered an important part of a well rounded garden. It has been sadly neglected in America, probably because most people remember gooseberries as tart and mouth puckering. We offer sweet varieties which are wonderful eaten fresh. Gooseberries generally ripen in July. They are slow growers in the nursery. We offer well rooted one year bushes. Outstanding Canadian and European cultivars are not usually offered in the United States.

Useful Facts

Pollination: Self-pollinating.

Size and spacing: 3-4 ft.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-8.

Sun or shade: Full sun, but can tolerate semi-shade.

Method of propagation: Cuttings taken in the fall.

Life expectancy: 15-30 years

Years to first fruit: 2 years

Yield: 8-10 pounds per bush.

How to Grow

Soil requirements: Good loam, can tolerate sandy or heavy soils, but must be well drained.

Cultural requirements: Plant with peat, mulch well and water during arid summers. Mildew can be a problem on susceptible varieties. Sulfur can defoliate the plants. Baking soda mixed with spray oil sprayed every two weeks can work. Currant worms can defoliate bushes - use BT or Safer soap.

Pruning: Prune annually to maintain large berry size. Cut out wood more than 3 years old, leaving 6-8 canes.

Standards and Cordons

Gooseberries and currants can be trained as a beautiful compact tree (known in England as a "standard") that grows to about seven feet tall. The "standard" makes an attractive feature in a garden, as an individual or planted 4' apart in a line. Red and white currants, Jostaberry and ORUS 8 can simply be trained with a single trunk as a standard, however gooseberries must be grafted on a vigorous and upright rootstock.

You can also train any currants or gooseberries we offer into an attractive single, double or even triple "cordon". The Raintree "Owners Manual", which comes with each purchase, will show you how to grow and care for standards and cordons. They are beautiful, increase production and reduce disease by allowing in more air and sunlight. Grow them in the ground or in 10-15 gallon pots on your patio.

How to Use

In the landscape: Use in foundation plantings, under spreading trees, borders or short barrier hedges. (Gooseberries have thorns!)

In the kitchen: Use to make jam, jelly, pudding, vinegar and sauce for fish or meat dishes. One reason that gooseberries are so good in cooking is that even the sweet fleshed varieties have a sour skin; making an interesting combination of flavors.