Green Mound Alpine CurrantRibes alpinum ‘Green Mound’
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Ribes alpinum ‘Green Mound’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
The Green Mound Alpine Currant is an attractive and easy-to-grow dwarf deciduous shrub, forming neat mounds of foliage between 2 and 3 feet tall and wide. It doesn’t need trimming to be neat and attractive, but it is very easy to turn into perfect geometrical shapes or neat hedges. It’s a terrific substitute for boxwood in colder zones, and it also grows well on slopes and among rocks and gravel. Use it for edging and to bring structure to your garden beds, or even in planter boxes.
Even in zone 2 you won’t see any winter-damage on the Green Mound Alpine Currant. It grows in any well-drained soil, including alkaline soils, clays and thin, rocky ground. It also takes to all light conditions, from full sun to light full shade, so it’s incredibly versatile around your yard. Pests, diseases and rabbits won’t bother it, and being a male plant it doesn’t carry the fungus that causes white pine blister rust in zone parts of the country.
Few things pull a garden space together better than neat, mounding shrubs. In many areas boxwood and dwarf hollies are favorites for this, and they can be kept as small mounds, alone or in groups, or clipped into low hedges around beds or along paths. In colder areas those plants are difficult to impossible choices, so we’d like to introduce you to a great alternative – the Green Mound Alpine Currant. This neat little shrub is incredibly cold-hardy, and generally tough, and it can be used as a substitute for boxwood – the more you trim the smaller the leaves become and the neater it looks. Even untrimmed it is a neat mound that is never untidy, really setting off your annual flowers and other shrubs. In cold areas where choices are limited it’s a ‘must have’ for your garden. Even in warmer zones it is so attractive that it’s still very worthwhile, and so easy to grow. If you have read concerns about currant bushes being carriers of the serious disease white pine blister rust, there is no need to worry with this variety – as a male plant it doesn’t become infected.
The Green Mound Alpine Currant is a bushy deciduous shrub forming a low mound of many branches, with leaves right to the ground. The many twigs radiate outwards, forming a shrub that is just 2 to 3 feet tall and the same distance across. It doesn’t need trimming to maintain this neat form, although of course it can be trimmed into perfect geometrical shapes like balls and cubes, or made into formal hedges. The young twigs are shiny light gray, and older branches often have peeling bark and gray-brown rough bark, giving a nice rugged look to the plants in winter. The small leaves are no more than 1 inch long and wide, divided into 3 or sometimes 5 lobes, a little like a miniature maple leaf. They are a mat dark green, presenting a healthy and attractive appearance. In fall the leaves turn clear yellow, brightening the fall garden.
In spring you will see small cylindrical clusters of yellowish-green flowers along the stems at the base of the leaves. These clusters are about 1 inch long, and quietly attractive. This shrub is a male clone (alpine currant has male and female flowers on separate plants), so it doesn’t produce the red berries sometimes seen on larger bushes of this plant. Being male it also isn’t susceptible to the fungus that causes white pine blister rust, and which uses currant bushes as alternative hosts. That fungal disease causes serious damage to our native white pine, but only female bushes of alpine currant can carry it.
As a no-nonsense shrub for filling beds and making lower hedges, the Green Mound Alpine Currant is a winner, especially in colder zones where plant choices are much more limited. Grow it at the back of beds, perhaps in the shade beneath larger shrubs, to bring structure and fullness to your garden. It’s excellent as a hedge or screen, perhaps along a path or driveway, or to hide an ugly fence of wall. It enjoys rocky ground, so use it on banks and slopes and in exposed, dry places. It is great for screening unsightly equipment like air-con from view, and for filling spaces wherever you have them. For group planting and hedges, space plants 2 to 3 feet apart – use the closer spacing for shorter hedges.
One of the great things about the Green Mound Alpine Currant is how cold-resistant it is. It grows well even in zone 2, and through all the cold zones, right into zone 7. In the humidity of warmer zones leaf diseases limit its usefulness.
From full sun to light full shade all suit the Green Mound Alpine Currant, and everything in between. This makes it incredibly useful, since it will grow almost anywhere. In deep shade it will still grow, but not as vigorously or as densely. It grows well in almost all soils, except for wet ones, and is happy in alkaline as well as acid soils, and in everything from rocky, thin soils to heavy clays. You should water new plants regularly, but once it is established this plant has good drought resistance.
You almost certainly won’t see any pests or diseases on the Green Mound Alpine Currant, and it isn’t bothered by rabbits. It keeps its neat, mounding form naturally, but for extra neatness trim it over in spring before new growth begins. When planted as a hedge, or for shaped specimens like cubes, trim as needed, from early spring to early fall. The more you trim the denser it will become. Keep the top of a hedge narrower than the bottom, so that the lower branches stay vigorous and green.
The alpine currant, Ribes alpinum, is sometimes called the mountain currant, because it often grows on mountain slopes. It is found naturally from the British Isles through Scandinavia and northern Europe, often in open woodlands, and further south in Spain, Italy and the Balkans in higher mountains. It has always been a favorite in colder parts of America, and up into Canada, and it’s well known for durability and its minimal care requirements. There have not been many different varieties found, but Green Mound is an outstanding dwarf one, with the benefit of being male. We don’t have any information on its origin, but it is probably American, as it isn’t offered at European nurseries.
Everyone loves neat mounds of foliage and tidy small hedges, and that’s exactly what the Green Mound Alpine Currant delivers for gardeners in cold parts of the country. We really recommend this plant for easy gardening, but order now because we don’t have plants available very often, and they will soon all be gone.