Pruning spring-flowering shrubs

Credit: iStock / matt.scherf


Q: My pink flowering currant has bloomed well for 11 years but last year half died. Do I start it over or cut it back?

Flowering currant bushes (Ribes sanguineum) are grown mainly for their decorative pinky-red or white flower clusters that appear early to mid spring. When old plants become dense and untidy or begin to die out, blooms lessen.

As with all spring-flowering shrubs, the best and most effective time to prune is immediately after flowering has finished. When pruning try to remove all dead wood and weak growth, and cut back all the old stems to where young shoots are growing.

Very old branches can be cut down to ground level so that no branches older than three years are left.

By mid April, begin a vigorous fertilizing program using 250 mL (1 cup) of granular 12-16-12 per mature shrub, sprinkling lightly around the plant base every three to four weeks through September, watering regularly through the hot summer months.