Gooseberries are low-growing deciduous shrubs that reach three to six feet in height and have thorny stems. They can be used in home gardens and landscapes, and are grown commercially for their fruit, which is fresh-frozen or processed for use in jams and pies. Gooseberries contain several minerals and are high in vitamins A, B and C. They're available in green, yellow, red or pink-colored fruit and, unlike currants, are borne singly. Gooseberry fruit may have fine hairs.
Gooseberries are winter hardy, growing in USDA Hardiness zones three to five. Native species are found in northern parts of North America, and will grow at elevations up to 10,000 feet. Consequently, they perform better when they're provided some shade, as they may defoliate if temperatures exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended duration. Use mulch to moderate soil temperature fluctuations. Gooseberries can tolerate warmer temperatures than currants.
Gooseberries do best in fertile, loamy soil that has good drainage. Optimum pH is 6.2 to 6.5, but they tolerate 5.5 to 7.0. At a higher pH, the fruit quantity may be limited, but the plants can still be used for landscaping. Gooseberries do best in cool temperatures with full sun.
Gooseberries are an alternate host for the white pine blister rust, so avoid planting them with white pines. Fortunately, white pine blister rust generally isn't a problem in the High Plains and Rocky Mountain regions. However, gooseberries do tend to be more susceptible to powdery mildew.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).
- Shade Tree Borers
- Currants, Gooseberries and Jostaberries
- The Living Soil
- Choosing a Soil Amendment
- Trees and Shrubs for Mountain Areas
- Mulches for Home Grounds
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Updated Tuesday, November 19, 2013