The Golden currant (Ribes aureum) is a flowering shrub that’s native to North America and grows best in areas abundant in groundwater like areas near creeks or bottom of canyons.
In gardens, it’s kept mainly as an ornamental groundcover. Its golden yellow flowers exude a pronounced vanilla and clove fragrance that attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
Therefore, apart from being an ornamental bush, it’s also a bee- and butterfly-friendly addition to your garden.
Read my Ribes aureum plant care tips below to learn how to take care of this deciduous shrub.
Golden Currant Plant Care Tips
I’m going to cover all the important aspects of the Golden currant to help you grow a healthy and vigorous plant.
At maturity, you can expect the golden currant to reach a size of 6-10 feet tall and 5-10 feet wide.
The plant has a fast to moderate growth rate, so it won’t take years to reach its full height and width. The shrub follows an upright, fountain-like growth pattern.
The Ribes aureum does best in partial shade. Neither excess sun exposure, nor lack of sun exposure are ideal conditions, so try to find a location that will provide the plant with either indirect sun exposure or filtered light.
The golden currant enjoys moist soil during periods of active growth. Once it’s established, and provided that soil and temperature conditions are in the optimal range, you can cut back on watering if the plant is otherwise healthy.
A newly planted shrub should be watered regularly to ensure evenly moist soil. Only when the plant is established should you reduce watering.
In ideal conditions, you won’t need to water a mature golden currant more than 2-3 times a month. For a more precise determination of the shrub’s watering need, you only need to monitor the soil.
Allow the soil to dry before watering, then water deeply so as to saturate the root zone with enough moisture.
Temperature & Humidity
As a cold tolerant plant, the Ribes aureum is suitable to be grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8. In terms of humidity and moisture, it can tolerate a range of moisture levels once the plant is established, but ideally it prefers moderate to high moisture, but it can tolerate some moderate drought as well.
The golden currant adapts to a variety of soil types. For newly planted shrubs, soil with low to moderate drainage works best.
To help the soil conserve moisture, add 2-3 inches of mulch, but avoid mounding it against the trunk.
The golden currant needs no extra fertilization, except for the mulching I mentioned that will maintain not only a good level of even moisture and temperature control, but supply nutrients as well.
Potting & Repotting
If you’re growing golden currants from seed or you’re establishing cuttings, follow the watering, light, and soil recommendations I described above.
If you’re looking to grow these plants in containers or tubs, you can, but trimming will be required to remove unwanted suckers and contain spread.
Golden Currant Plant Propagation
The golden currant can be propagated by seed, cuttings or division. If you want to propagate from seed, harvest the seeds as soon as the fruits are ripe, use maceration or stripping to extract seeds.
If you’re propagating from stem cutting, choose a 12-inch stem cutting, remove leaves on lower half and plant into moist soil.
If you’re propagating through division, simply remove suckers and transfer to their own pot until they’re established or ready to be planted outside.
Golden Currant FAQs
In the FAQs below I will answer some questions related to maintenance, potential issues and other aspects related to cultivating the golden currant.
Are Golden currant berries edible?
Yes, the golden currant produces translucent orange to red berries that have a sweet-tart taste and are edible. You can make a refreshing, sweet jam out of these berries. Ripe berries can be consumed raw as well.
The berries even attract birds that feed on them. If you see birds feeding on these berries, you’ll know for sure they are ripe.
Therefore, the golden currant not only provides sustenance to bees and monarch butterflies but also to fruit eating birds, making it an all-round useful plant.
How to prune golden currant shrub?
Cutting back suckers will keep the shrub from expanding too much and keep it at a size that works best for you. It’s best to prune the shrub after flowering.
Cut older stems (those that have darker stems) that are around 3 years old down to the stem. Trim shoots above strong buds.
Why are the leaves of my golden currant turning red?
Leaves of the golden currant turning red is a natural process and usually happens in autumn as a result of seasonal change. If leaves are turning red in the summer, it can be that the shrub is getting too much direct sunlight, or it can signal lack of watering.
What are the dark brown spots on my golden currant?
Bacterial spot diseases can cause necrotic spots on the leaves, stems and fruits of the golden currant. It also presents with severe leaf loss.
Other than bacterial diseases, the Ribes aureum can also be attacked by western caterpillars that will also cause defoliation.
Is the Golden currant the same as clove currant?
The Ribes aureum is also known under the name Clove currant or Clove bush because of the scent of its flowers that have a vanilla mixed with clove fragrance. Other names include Buffalo currant and Missouri currant.
The golden currant is widely planted for its bright yellow, fragrant flowers that appear during spring. The flowers provide nectar to pollinators and delicious berries in midsummer to birds, rodents and bears even.
Because of its low maintenance requirements, resistance to cold, and quick growth, this shrub is often used for hedge and hedgerow.
If you’re planting this shrub outside, make sure you plant in moist soil or an irrigated site until the plant becomes established.