Saturday 5 March 2016

Have you tried Ribes laurifolium?

Weekly whim, an intermittent series of short posts interspersed with my longer ones. Usually matters of current interest in my garden. Today it is of currant interest

Ribes laurifolium is normally considered as hardy but for me it’s straggly habit, that it blows and sometimes breaks in the wind, its propensity not to like Winter-wet conditions, its proneness to dieback and its very early flowers have persuaded me to grow it in pots in my unheated greenhouse. It stands in my nursery in Summer.

I bring it out when it is in full flower in January and display it in otherwise boring corners where it provides colour for the next six weeks

Posed here for the picture, they are actually placed elsewhere in a corner

Being a currant, stuck in pieces root very easily. These were broken branches thrown in last February, one of the four failed. You can see I have been playing with my charcoal as a compost ingredient

The other plants are pittosporum and phlox
The pittosporum is actually growing in a plunged 12 litre pot and needs to be watered much of the year. If minus fifteen centigrade threatens in theory it can be lifted! This has not been necessary for two years now.
This series might be a little whimsical

I recently published this picture which is perhaps worth repeating

Ribes laurifolium displayed with variegated daphne this February


  1. If -15 threatens, I may have to be lifted too.

    1. Just looked at your reply again. Of course it makes sense!
      In fact at minus 15 it is frozen too solid to lift the pot out. My cunning (and stupid?} plan is only to lift it if the forecast is for prolonged and very severe cold.
      I know you are very keen but I imagine even you will be in the warm house at minus15

    2. Yep well lifted off the ground and tucked up warmly.

  2. I had no idea pittosporum is that hardy. I thought a few degrees of frost would kill it. I wonder if it would survive the winter in my crawl space in the dark. I would have to try but doubt it would work.

    1. I would not be really happy keeping an evergreen shrub in a dark place but it might work if it is also cold - but not very cold
      My minus 15 is a bit of a shot in the dark, tolerance to cold is effected by Winter drainage, exposure to wind and very significantly whether the low temperature lasts several days (bad in this case) or just touches say minus 15 on a frosty night.
      Before the 2010 double Winter my several different pittosporums had reached head height and had not been checked by cold for about seven years. That year I lost most of my hebes and all the pittosporums - it was down to minus 18 centigrade for about three weeks!

  3. Love the flowers on that one. I have two currants: Ribes americanum and Ribes odoratum, both grow wild in North America.

    1. Ribes sanguineum is widely grown over here and is really nice if kept rejuvenated by appropriate pruning every two or three years.

  4. I no longer indulge myself with half-hardy plants Roger, too many disappointments, and being pragmatic. Pittosporums or anything remotely Antipodean are seen off at supposedly much more amenable temperatures than -15°, it is the damp that does for them. This mild and damp winter has been an absolute disaster for me in that many of last year's crop of young Meconopsis and Primula plants from seed which have been protected in my semi-open tunnel have damped off, I have now put them all outside in the hope that I will salvage something

    1. My sympathies are with you Rick!
      It's ironic when some of us are pleased about the mild Winter and yet bemoan excessive wet and humidity.
      Although there are many tender pittosporums not worth touching in the north I think you are a bit tough on some of them to call them half hardy. I agree my enthusiasm may be getting the better of me when I suggest they will stand minus 15


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