Gooseberries (Ribes hirtellum; Ribes grossularia)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers

Small Fruit

Ribes hirtellum; Ribes grossularia

Require well-drained soils with pH 6.2-6.5, at least one percent organic matter, and 18-24 inches deep. The site should be free of perennial weeds. Chlorine containing fertilizers such as muriate of potash need to be applied at least one month before planting. Obtain plants as close to planting time as possible. Plant in early spring in northern Illinois and other areas with similar climates while areas with longer growing seasons, they can be planted in fall. Dig a large hole that can accommodate all the roots, prune long or dead roots, plant slightly deeper than the plants growing in the nursery. Plant 3-4 ft a part in rows spaced 8-9 ft a part. Gooseberries can be grown as free standing bushes, bushes trained on hedgerows or as tree-like shrubs. The initial pruning is done by cutting back canes to two to four buds. Let 4-5 canes develop every year until the mature bush have 15 to 16 canes. In subsequent annual pruning, the canes that are 3 years or older are pruned at ground level, and keeping 10-12 canes per mature bush with half the canes 1-year-old. Gooseberries are very cold hardy and they can be grown in colder climates where fruit tree production is limited. They have long chilling requirements, don't like too much heat, and mature within a short period of time. Gooseberries require one inch of water per week during the growing season that can be provided through irrigation or by precipitation.  
  • Red types - Poorman, Ross, Silvia, Abundance, Welcome, Houghton, Tixia, Hinnomaki, and Josseyln.
  • Greens, pink, and yellow types - Invicta, Oregon Champion, Captivator, Downing, and Pixwell.
  • European types that can perform well in North America - red types - Clark, Fredonia, Glenashton, and Industry; green types - Chautauqua
Mature Height
2-5 Feet
Mature Width
Harvest Time
Pick individual fruit at maximum size. Keep harvested fruits in shade and refrigerate as soon as possible. Fruits can be harvested from late June to July depending on the variety and climatic conditions.


USDA Hardiness Zone
3 - 8 
Soil Conditions
Moist, Well-Drained
Exposure/Light Requirements
Full Sun
Jellies & Jams
Fruit Color
Pests and Problems

Environmental Damage

Fungal Disease

Herbicide Injury

Additional pests and problems that may affect this plant:


  • San Jose Scale (Aspidious perniciosus)
  • Currant borer (Synathedon tipuliformis)
  • Red spider mite (Tetranychus telarius)
  • Currant aphid (Capitophorus ribis)
  • Gooseberry aphid (Aphis grossularia; Hyperomyzus pallidus; Nansonovia ribis-nigri)
  • Gooseberry sawfly (Nematus ribesii)
  • Pale-spotted gooseberry sawfly (Nematus leucotrochus)
  • Currant sawfly (Pristiophora pallipes)
  • Currant fruit fly (Epocha canadensis)
  • Currant moth (Incurvaria capitella)
  • American bufallo hopper (Caresa bubatus)
  • Common green capsid (Lygocaris pabulinus)
  • Gooseberry inch worm (Abraxus grossulariata)
  • Flat-headed borer (Chrysobothris mali)
  • Currant root louse (Eriosoma ulmi)
  • Black gooseberry borer (Xylacrius agassizii)
  • Fourlined plant bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus)
  • Gooseberry fruitworm (Zophodia convolutella)


  • Powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca mors-uva)
  • Anthracnose (Pseudopeziza ribis)
  • Septoria leaf spot (Mycospharella ribis)
  • Angular leaf spot (Cercospora angulata)
  • Minor Gooseberry cluster cup rust (Puccinia ribesii-caricis)
  • Cane blight (Botryosphaeria ribis)
  • Dieback and fruit rot (Botrytis cinerea)
  • Coral spot (Nectria cinnabarina)
  • Root rots or molds (Rosellina necatrix, Phellinus ribis, Armillaria mellea)
  • Viral diseases: Gooseberry veinbanding virus
  • Nematodes: Bud and leaf nematodes

Other pests:

  • Slugs and snails
  • Birds - Sparrow, Bullfinch, Blackbird, Thrush, Starling
Additional Notes

The genus Ribes contains over 150 species, and includes red and white currants, black currants, and gooseberries. Plants in this genus are native to northern hemispheres of Europe, Asia, and North America. Gooseberry production began in Europe around 1700. Disease and adptation problems led to limited production in North America. In the early 1900, the US federal government imposed a ban on cultivation of Ribes spp. as they serve as alternate host of white pine blister rust that attack a major timber species at that time, white pine trees. The ban was lifted in 1966 but some other states still prohibit growing of some Ribes spp. particularly black currant.

Hardwood cuttings are used for propagating American Gooseberries. Serpentine, trench, or mound layerage is used for propagating European gooseberries. In Hungary, they grow "Tree gooseberries" by grafting undifferentiated scion onto undifferentiated rootstock (green-grafting)but shoots should not be to young. The scion should be 2-4 inches long and need to come from the top part of the tree. Most of the leaves are removed from the scion. The bottom of the scion is cut as a wedge about 1/2 inch long, and center of rootstock is cut parallel to the remaining bud. The scion is inserted into the split rootstock. The resulting plants have single trunks 12-18 inches above the ground. Because of their height, they have less powdery mildew incidences, less spring frost damage, and produces more fruit.


Related Resources
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic