Rooting Gooseberry Cuttings: Taking Cuttings From Gooseberry Bush

By: Teo Spengler

Gooseberries are woody shrubs that bear tart berries. You can eat the berries right off the plant as they ripen, but the fruit is especially delicious in jams and pies. You don’t have to buy new gooseberry plants to increase your crop. Read on for information about propagating gooseberry cuttings.

How to Propagate Gooseberry Cuttings

When you are propagating gooseberry cuttings, you cut off a piece of the plant’s stem—a cutting—and encourage it to root. It’s important to take the cutting at the correct time of the year when you go about rooting gooseberry cuttings.

By propagating gooseberry cuttings, you are creating clones of the parent plant. You can create one or many new plants each season.

Taking Cuttings from Gooseberry Bushes

When you are taking cuttings from gooseberry bushes, be sure that they are hardwood cuttings. Hardwood cuttings provide a reliable means of growing gooseberry from cuttings.

You need to take the cuttings during the plant’s dormant season. This means you can clip them out at any time from mid-autumn until late winter. However, the ideal times are just after they drop their leaves or just before the buds open in spring. Avoid taking cuttings during cold snaps.

When you are taking cuttings from gooseberry plants, select vigorous shoots that are one year old. Clip off the soft growth on the tip. Then cut the branch into sections about 6 inches (15 cm.) long. Make the top cut just above a bud with a slanting slice. The bottom cut should be straight and just below a bud.

Rooting Gooseberry Cuttings

Prepare containers for the cuttings. Select deep pots and fill then with a mixture of coarse grit and compost.

Pour out some hormone rooting powder on a sheet of paper towel. Dip the base end of each cutting in the powder, then insert it into the soil mixture in the pot. Plant each to half its depth.

Place the pots in a cold frame, garage, or unheated greenhouse. Water them occasionally to keep the medium moist. Keep them in place until the following autumn. By that time, the cuttings will have developed roots.

Growing Gooseberry from Cuttings

Once you transplant the gooseberry cuttings to their permanent spot in the garden, it will be four year until the plants are in full fruit production. At that point, you should get 3 to 4 quarts (3-3.5 L.) per bush.

You’ll need to provide the mature plants with water during dry weather. It also helps to pull out weeds that compete for nutrients.

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How to Propagate Gooseberries by Division

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Division is one of the easiest ways to propagate small fruit such as gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa). There are many different types of gooseberries, some that have small sweet and yellow fruit, while others have much larger red fruit. Gooseberries are best picked just before they ripen. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture zone information, gooseberries grow best in zones 2 through 9. They do not like hot, humid weather. When a gooseberry bush reaches about 3 years old, it will have begun to form new plants, and you can generally get several "starts" off of a healthy plant. Proper division requires attention to roots and the use of clean, sharp garden tools.

Water the gooseberry bush thoroughly several days before you plan to divide.

Fill a large garden bucket with 3 parts bleach and 1 part water. Place the spade and hand pruners in the bucket so that the head is submerged. Allow the spade to soak for at least 30 minutes. Remove the spade from the bucket and allow it to air dry.

Prune the gooseberry bush back to within 6 inches from the ground using sharp hand pruners. Dispose of the cut pieces.

Dig a trench 6 inches away from the gooseberry bush and all the way around.

Lift the bush out of the ground by placing the spade underneath the plant. Lift the plant out carefully so that you do not break any of the roots.

Rinse the root ball off so you can see the roots more clearly.

Grab the root ball with your hands and gently try to pry apart a few sections. Be sure that you get a generous portion of roots with each section. If you are unable to pry any sections apart with your hands, use a clean sharp knife to severe the roots.

Replant the parent plant and divisions immediately in a sunny spot and in well-drained soil.

Place a 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants to help retain moisture.

Common pests and diseases: Gooseberries

When growing fruits and vegetables, it is always exciting to care for the plant throughout its growing phase and then harvest it for delicious recipes later on, but one thing to watch out for is pests and diseases. Different plants are susceptible to different types of pests and diseases, and it is important to make yourself aware so you can keep a watchful eye and also take any preventative methods to keep your plants safe throughout their lifespan.

Goosberries can fall victim to several different pests and diseases.

Some of the most common pests affecting gooseberries are aphids, currant borers and stinkbugs.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects which will affect the undersides of the leaves or the stems. If the infestation becomes bad enough, they will cause the leaves to become yellow or distorted. Shoots can become stunted. The aphids also create a sticky liquid that covers the leaves. This sticky liquid then attracts other pests and insects. Although it is rare for aphids to kill the plant, they can decrease the amount of fruit produced by a substantial amount. Aphids will typically occur on the bushes from late April to May. Treat the aphids at the first sign of infestation by spraying them.

Currant borers will cause yellow and withered leaves, and the canes may even die. To manage this infestation, prune the damaged canes and destroy them. Apply the insecticides before the larvae enter the cane in order for them to be affective.

Stinkbugs ca carry pathogens and cause other infections if they feed on the plant. To manage these pests, control the weeds around the plants and use insecticidal soaps.


Some of the most common diseases infecting gooseberries is American gooseberry mildew, anthracnose and Septoria leaf spot.

American gooseberry mildew causes white, powdery patches on the plant’s younger leaves, stems or branches. These can kill patches of the plant. White patches also may appear on the fruit. To manage this disease, reduce humidity around the plants and keep the area free of weeds.

Anthracnose will cause brown or black lesions on leaves which can develop and then cause the leaves to drop from the plant. Berries can split and also drop from the plant. To manage this, remove leaf debris from around the plant and also apply the appropriate fungicides when necessary.

Septoria leaf spot will cause symptoms very similar to anthracnose, but the lesions will develop a lighter center and the leaves will then drop from the plant. This fungus survives on leaf debris on the ground, so remove debris, weed around the plants and provide adequate plant spacing. You also can apply certain fungicides when needed.

How to take fruit bush cuttings

Get new currant and gooseberry plants for free with this guide on taking cuttings from them.

Published: Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is not at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is at its best in June

Plant is at its best in July

Plant is at its best in August

Plant is not at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

Do not To do in September

It’s easy to propagate your favourite fruit bushes by taking hardwood cuttings from healthy plants over winter.

Suitable fruits include gooseberries, blackcurrants, whitecurrants and redcurrants and after about a year’s time you’ll be rewarded with healthy new plants, all for free.

As well as fruit bushes, you can also take hardwood cuttings in winter from lots of other woody perennials, including roses, viburnums, dogwoods, willow and forsythia.

Follow these easy steps to take cuttings from fruit bushes like blackcurrants and gooseberries.

You Will Need

Total time:

Step 1

Select a healthy stem of the current season’s growth, and cut it from the plant right at the base. Select only one or two stems from each bush.

Step 2

Reduce the cutting down to 25-30cm long, trimming just below a bud at the base, and above a bud at the top. Remove soft growth at the stem tip. With redcurrants, whitecurrants and gooseberries, remove all but the top three or four buds to create a clear stem. Leave all the buds on blackcurrants.

Step 3

Choose a warm, bright site with free-draining soil, and make a vertical slit in the soil with a spade. Then put a layer of sharp sand or grit in the base of the slit trench.

Step 4

Insert the cuttings to about half their depth, spacing them about 20cm apart. Firm the soil back around them, then water in well. Water in dry spells and the cuttings should be ready to transplant in about a year’s time.

How to Grow Great Gooseberries

By Lee Reich
  • Hybridization has improved the flavor of gooseberries, and as a result, they are regaining popularity. Gooseberries can be picked underripe and cooked, or enjoyed ripe, right off the vine.
Gooseberry forms a medium-sized bush. The plants require winter pruning to keep them productive. Infestations of gooseberry fruitworm can be controlled by applications of a microbial insecticide that contains Bacillus thuringiensis.

Gooseberries have always seemed so British. Over there, no fruit lover would be without a gooseberry bush. Enthusiasts go one step further, joining gooseberry clubs and entering shows to see who can grow the largest berry. Contestants have been known to prepare by carefully thinning excess fruits from the bushes, and using such esoteric practices as “suckling” promising berries (perching a saucer of water beneath a berry just high enough to wet only its far end), and encouraging chickweed growth to increase humidity.

Here in America, however, gooseberries are not well known. But this has not always been the case. Early settlers brought European varieties to the New World, eventually hybridizing them with native American species.

The first hybrid, ‘Houghton’, debuted at the 1847 meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Other varieties with American “blood” soon followed, and gooseberry growing and breeding in America was on the rise. The promising career of the gooseberry here was abruptly halted early in the 20th century when the plant was implicated in the spreading of a disease that also attacks white pines.

The popularity of this wonderful fruit is again on the upswing. This is thanks, in part, to the efforts of the International Ribes Association in spreading the word about gooseberries. Also, specialty nurseries have begun offering better-tasting varieties.

Gooseberries come in many flavors and colors
A fully ripened dessert variety of gooseberry is as luscious as the best apple, strawberry, or grape. In fact, the flavor of gooseberry was considered much like that of grapes in 17th century England, to the extent that gooseberries were raised commercially for fermenting into a delicate summer wine.

Over the years, I have grown more than 40 varieties. Some, such as ‘Pixwell’ and ‘Mt. Ennis’, were tough and nothing more than sour. The ones I have kept are those whose tender skins envelope an aromatic, tasty pulp. These include ‘Hinnomaki Yellow’, which is fairly disease resistant, with berries that taste somewhat like apricot ‘Achilles’, a large berry, mostly green with a blush of red and the taste of a well-ripened dessert grape, but with large thorns and high susceptibility to mildew disease ‘Captivator’, a disease-resistant and almost thornless plant, with small to medium berries that have purplish-pink skin and good flavor ‘Black Satin’, a disease-resistant, spreading bush, with small to medium fruit that is dark and has sweet, grapelike flavor ‘Poorman’, a large upright bush that is disease resistant, with small to medium fruit that is pear shaped, reddish, and has good sweet-tart flavor and ‘Red Jacket’, a large, upright, disease-resistant bush with medium-size, red fruit that has sweet-tart flavor.

The gooseberry bush itself has arching branches that give it a height and spread of 3 to 5 feet. The flowers are self-fertile and open early in the season, but are inconspicuous. Best production is on stems 1 to 4 years old. Gooseberries can be accommodated throughout much of the northern half of the United States if plants are mulched heavily to keep their roots cool, given some shade where summers are torrid, and irrigated where natural rainfall is deficient.

Gooseberries are less finicky than most other small fruits about soil acidity and tolerate a wide range of soil types, except those that are waterlogged. Where summers are hot, bushes grow better and produce better fruit in heavier soils, which retain more moisture and stay cooler.

Plant gooseberry bushes 4 to 6 feet apart, the precise distance depending on the vigor of the variety and the richness of your soil. Since gooseberry plants are impatient to grow in spring, I set bare-root plants in the ground either in the fall, using plenty of mulch, or as early as possible in spring.

Prune to keep 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old shoots
The usual way to grow gooseberries is as a “stool,” a huddle of stems that arise from the ground. New shoots come up annually, and the oldest ones are regularly cut to the ground. You’ll recognize them because the bark begins to peel on older stems, which also are thicker than younger ones. During the winter following the plant’s first season in the ground, begin training the plant by cutting away all but six of the previous season’s shoots. Do the same after the second winter, so that the bush has six 1-year-old and six 2-year-old shoots. Following the third winter’s pruning, the bush will have six each of 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old stems, the status you want to maintain.

Gooseberry bushes can have a height and spread of 3 to 5 feet. When pruning, keep all 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old shoots and cut out anything older than 3 years.

In the fourth and subsequent winters, pruning consists of cutting down all 4-year-old shoots and all but six of the most vigorous, upright new shoots that grew from ground level the previous season. Also, shorten lanky shoots, if necessary.

Another way of growing a gooseberry plant is as a standard, or small tree. Standards look tidy, are decorative, and keep fruits off the ground. There is, however, the risk of losing a whole plant should its single trunk be damaged.

Train a standard by allowing only one stem to develop on a young plant, then staking this trunk-to-be upright. Nip out the tip of this stem when it reaches 2 to 3 feet in height, and side branches will form just below your cut. Prune the multibranched “head” of your mature standard as if it were a stool or let permanent side branches develop and periodically cut back stems arising from these, to maintain a constant supply of younger, fruitful wood.

White patches mean trouble

Gooseberries are vulnarable to several diseases and pests, including powdery mildew (top), leaf spot (middle), and gooseberry fruitworm (above). Choosing disease-resistant varieties can heop minimize damage to a crop.

Powdery mildew is the most serious disease of gooseberries, ruining the fruit overnight on susceptible plants when days are clear, nights are cool, and spores are present. Powdery white patches, which eventually turn dark gray, develop on leaves and fruits. Much of the effort in gooseberry breeding in the 20th century has been directed, and successfully, toward developing mildew-resistant varieties.

I control disease on susceptible varieties in a few ways. Weekly sprayings of baking soda and summer oil—one tablespoon of each per quart of water—are supposed to be effective, though I haven’t found them to be dramatically so for me. I’ve had more success experimenting with a light mineral oil spray called Stylet-Oil, also applied weekly or biweekly.

I have also effectively eliminated mildew by cutting dormant plants to the ground, cleaning up all traces of leaves and stems, then moving the plants to a new site far from any infected gooseberries. (Rose and lilac powdery mildews are not threats because they are caused by different fungi.)

Leaf spot, which causes spotting, then loss of leaves, also can hit gooseberries. Fortunately, leaf loss usually occurs late enough in the season that I can ignore the disease, with no great harm done to my plants. Applications of Bordeaux mixture, beginning just after the leaves appear, are reputedly effective in controlling leaf spot, and lime-sulfur sprays are to a lesser degree. Varieties differ in their susceptibility to leaf spot diseases, and those previously mentioned as resistant to mildew are also resistant to leaf spot.

Two insect pests that require attention are the imported currantworm and the gooseberry fruitworm. I grew gooseberries for almost two decades without seeing either pest, or even mildew. But all three problems eventually found their way into my garden as I brought in new plants from around the country.

Currantworms begin their work just as leaves expand in spring, chewing at and quickly stripping the leaves. An organic insecticide, such as rotenone, applied as soon as damage is evident controls the currantworm, although subsequent sprays may be needed if the second or third generation becomes a problem.

Gooseberry fruitworm damages berries rather than leaves. Just before fruits ripen, these insects burrow into the berries, eat the pulp, then exit and spin a silken webbing joining fruits and sometimes leaves together. Damaged fruits color prematurely. A microbial insecticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis, such as Dipel or Thuricide, applied as soon as the webbing is evident, controls the fruitworm.

Two ways to propagate gooseberries
The ease with which gooseberries propagate from cuttings depends on the variety. Generally, American varieties are easier to propagate than European ones. Take hardwood cuttings in early fall, even before all the leaves have fallen from the plants. The presence of a few leaves actually enhances rooting. Make cuttings about a foot long, but do not include tip growth, and bury them so that only the top bud is exposed. Mulch after the ground freezes, then remove the mulch in early spring.

For easier propagation of just a few plants, try tip layering. Bend a stem tip to the ground in spring, cover it with a little soil, and anchor it with a rock. Roots will form where the stem touches soil, and a small plant will be ready for transplanting either by that first fall or, with difficult-to-root varieties, the following fall.

Watch out for the thorns

To harvest gooseberries, hold a branch back with one hand, and carefully pick with the other to avoid the numerous and vicious thorns.

In my garden in New Paltz, New York, I begin harvesting around the first week of July. I find it easiest to pick gooseberries in quantity by holding up a branch with one leather-gloved hand while I strip fruit with my other, ungloved, hand. Gooseberries are one of the few fruits usually picked underripe and then cooked.

But don’t let this overshadow the pleasure of eating the fully ripened fruit right from the plant. Once you gain appreciation for the fresh, ripe fruit, the goal becomes to seek perfection in flavor. Though opinions differ on whether ripe gooseberries taste best early in the morning, still cool from the night air, or at noon after being warmed by the sun, the fresh fruit is at its best plucked straight from the bush and tossed into your mouth. As Edward Bunyard said in The Anatomy of Dessert in 1934, “the Gooseberry is of course the fruit par excellence for ambulant consumption.”

October 2000
from Kitchen Gardener, issue #29


Date: 30 May 2020 From: Jane M
QUESTION: i have accidentally broken a stem of my healthy currant bush will it root in powder?

ANSWER: There is an ideal way to do it for maximum success. However, the truth is that blackcurrant cuttings root well at any time of year if, and it's a big if, you have the time to keep them watered. Also, I never bother with rooting powder, blackcurrant cuttings positively want to root. Place the broken stem in water now until you get a chance to take the cuttings.

If I was you I would take a few cuttings as described in the article and pot them in multi-purpose compost. Keep the pot in a reasonably shaded position and keep the compost moist for the next three to four summer months.

When autumn comes along and there is more rain, move the pot into full sun. Then next spring the cuttings will almost certainly have rooted and you can plant them into their final position.

ANSWER: I wouldn't do that. The conditions inside a heated house are not suited at all to blackcurrant bushes. The lack of cold may also stimulate the production of leaves but you really want the cutting to initially put down roots, not produce leaves.

I know the climate in Minnesota gets very cold in winter but blackcurrants have in-built anti-feezeesystem which should prevent them from freezing.system which should prevent them from freezing.

What you can do is take the cuttings in October as you suggest and then when the frosts start, lightly cover the cuttings in rackennor something similar. Take the bracken off in early spring when the weather begins to improve. The intention would be to protect the plant from excessive wind. If anything is going to kill a blackcurrant cutting it will the combination of wind and frost.or something similar. Take the bracken off in early spring when the weather begins to improve. The intention would be to protect the plant from excessive wind. If anything is going to kill a blackcurrant cutting it will the combination of wind and frost.

When you initially plant the cuttings, make sure also that they are in a position naturally protected from wind.

ANSWER: Blackcurrant cuttings can be taken at any time of year with a high rate of success. The reason for suggesting September as a good time is that the soil will remain moist naturally from rainfall. No need to think about watering.

So, if you keep the ground moist throughout the summer, taking cuttings now should be fine.

ANSWER: Your aim should be to get them planted outside in their final positions as soon as possible. Blackcurrants are very frost hardy plants - the cuttings I took in December went straight into ground and they have already begun to grow even through several degrees of frost.



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