Red Lake Currant

red lake currant ribes sativum ftimg

Red Lake Currant

Ribes sativum ‘Red Lake’

Description & Overview

Red Lake currant is an old American variety that is perhaps the most widely planted red currant variety in North America. It is hardy to zone 3 and known for its extremely prolific crops of tart glossy red fruits. The fruit ripens mid-July in SE WI. The fruits are highly relished primarily for making into currant jelly although they are also used by some for pies, tarts, and fresh eating. The wonderful currant jelly made from this variety is known for its glossy red color with the typical tangy flavor that red currants have.

Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 4-5 feet
Mature Spread: 4 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate
Growth Form: Shrub
Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Site Requirements: Well-drained Site
Flower: Non-showy
Bloom Period: Spring
Foliage: Green
Fall Color: N/A
Fruit Notes: Borne in long clusters; very showy. Ripens mid-July in SE WI.

Suggested Uses:

While primarily grown just for its fruit, Red Lake currant can also be grown as an unsheared hedge just like its ornamental cousin (alpine currant). Easy to fit into the small landscape so often found today. Plant a fruiting hedge and enjoy both privacy and fruit! The key is not to shear the foliage during the growing season or this can hinder fruit production.

red lake currant ribes sativum milwaukee

Wildlife Value:


Maintenance Tips:

Use thinning cuts on all canes that are 3 years or older in late winter/early spring to promote better new growth and better fruit production.


Some currant varieties can become infected with white pine blister rust if planted close to white pines and the pathogen is present. This disease will not hurt the currants but it can hurt white pines. Red currants are less susceptible to blister rust than black currants. Avoid planting near white pines if possible as the infectious fungal pathogen spends part of its life cycle on currants and part on white pines. Fortunately Red Lake currant is considered to be somewhat resistant to this fungal pathogen but caution is advised when selecting the planting site.

Leaf Lore:

Red Lake Currant was developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1933. It is an American classic and has withstood the test of time due to its high yield and extreme winter cold tolerance to be the most commonly planted red currant variety in North America.

Companion Plants:

All currants are self-pollinating.

Red Lake Currant Ribes sativum 'Red Lake' benchcard