News & Updates

March 2, 2017

Ribes – Plant of the Month

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Ribes is a genus of midsize shrubs that includes many California native species, several of which are readily available and garden-worthy. They are especially known for their seasonally significant bloom cycle that begins in late winter and continues through spring. Presently, some are already budding with pendent, pink flowers, providing nectar for hummingbirds earlier than many other spring-flowering plants. California native Ribes species are split between two common names: Gooseberry and Currant. The major difference between the two is that Gooseberries are decorated with sharp spines and Currants are spineless.

The lobed foliage can be described as forest green. Many have good fall color, turning blends of yellow, orange, pink, and red after the berries have come and gone. Be sure to note that the leaves emit a pleasantly aromatic resin that deters deer from grazing. While most Ribes are deciduous, the schedule to defoliate differs. For example, R. malvaceum loses its leaves during summer, while R. speciosum and R. sanguineum both hold on to their leaves till early Fall. In mild climates, deciduous species may even hold on to their leaves all year round. Some are drought-deciduous. R. viburnifolium is a rarity with evergreen foliage.

In the landscape, the average size of one shrub is about 6 – 8 feet high and wide, though the mature size can range from 4 to 12 feet high and wide. Forms include vase-shaped, arching, upright, and round. Naturally an understory plant, Ribes like part shade, deep shade, dappled sun, or full sun on the coast. They are not hard to please with soil type as long as the drainage is decent. Slightly acidic to neutral pH is best. In common with most California natives, these shrubs like wet winters and dry summers, so be sure to situate them in a low-water design.

Thematically, Ribes fits into drought-tolerant gardens, wildlife gardens, pollinator gardens, California native gardens, and maybe even edible gardens, though feasting birds make a substantial harvest unlikely. While all Ribes produce edible berries, R. aureum and R. rubrum are said to give the best tasting fruit for a human palette.

Here are a few of our favorites at Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery. Or you can visit the Ribes genus page on Devil Mountain’s website.


ribes speciosum

RIBES SPECIOSUM ‘RANA CREEK’
RANA CREEK FUSCHIA-FLOWERED GOOSEBERRY

A drought-deciduous shrub with arching, sharply thorned branches. Large leaves are lobed, glossy, and green. In early spring, abundant, drooping, tubular flowers bloom in red. Summer berries are orange and dramatically spiky. Provides habitat for many birds, especially hummingbirds. Native to California.

USDA zones: 6 – 10

Sunset zones: 7 – 9, 14 – 24

Mature size: 4 – 6 feet high and 6 – 10 feet wide

Light needs: light shade, full sun on coast

Water needs: little to moderate water

Learn More


ribes king edward

RIBES SANGUINEUM ‘KING EDWARD VII’
KING EDWARD VII RED FLOWERING CURRANT

A deciduous shrub with upright, spineless branches. Aromatic leaves are lobed, fuzzy and green. Foliage turns yellow in fall. Extra showy, drooping clusters of spring flowers are vibrant crimson-pink. Summer berries are blackish blue. Attracts birds, especially hummingbirds. Native to California.

USDA zones: 5 – 9

Sunset zones: A3; 4 – 9, 14 – 24

Mature size: 6 feet high and 4 – 6 feet wide

Light needs: full sun, light shade

Water needs: little to moderate water

Learn More


Ribes White Icicle

RIBES SANGUINEUM ‘WHITE ICICLE’
WHITE ICICLE FLOWERING CURRANT
A deciduous shrub with a compact, vase-shaped growth habit. Aromatic leaves are lobed, fuzzy and deep green. Branches are spineless. Good fall color. Extra showy, drooping clusters of spring flowers are unusually bright white. Summer berries are blackish blue with a waxy-powder coating. Attracts birds, especially hummingbirds. Native to California.

USDA zones: 6 – 8

Sunset zones: A3; 4 – 9, 14 – 24

Mature size: 8 feet high and 6 – 8 feet wide

Light needs: light shade, full sun on coast

Water needs: little to moderate water

Learn More


ReScape California would like to thank our generous Sponsor, Devil Mountain Nursery, for authoring this blog post. You can look forward to monthly updates from ReScape CA and Devil Mountain about appropriate plant selection.

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To learn more about Ribes or to purchase plants, visit Devil Mountain’s Website:

www.DevilMountainNursery.com

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