Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - January 16, 2010

From: Enoch, UT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Pollinators, Propagation, Transplants, Vines
Title: Blossoms but no fruit for gooseberries in Enoch UT
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My gooseberries always get loads of blossoms, but I never get fruit. I think they need more sun, and thus, want to transplant them to a sunnier location. What (and when) is the best way to do this?

ANSWER:

There are 11 gooseberries (or currants) native to North America, of which 2 are native to Utah, Ribes leptanthum (trumpet gooseberry) and Ribes oxyacanthoides (Canadian gooseberry). Of these, only Ribes leptanthum (trumpet gooseberry) is seen as native to Iron County in this USDA Plant Profile.  That may not be exactly the species you have, but good enough to use as an example.  All members of the Ribes species are considered sunny woodland edge plants, tolerating some light shade but preferring sun. They generally begin fruiting after about 3 years in the ground.

We're wondering if possibly the problem could be in pollination. Apparently, these plants are pollinated by insects, more specifically, bees.  Since they tend to grow more in higher elevations, that may cut down the amount of time the bees have on a daily basis to do the pollination, because they are more active in warmer weather.  The flowers of the gooseberry are hermaphrodites, meaning there are both male and female organs on each flowers. There is some self-pollination, but the fruit of self-pollination drops easily at the time of ripening, which could mean the fruit was falling off before it became mature. Have you observed small immature fruits on the ground beneath your gooseberries? 

The plants obviously get a higher level of fruiting when the pollinators are present; however, there are some problems with that. One problem is if the gooseberries are not located in an area with an abundance of flowering plants, the bees may not be attracted to the area. Another problem is the increasing shortage of bees in the environment. Many factors have contributed to this shortage, and it is still something of a mystery, but loss of habitat and spraying of pesticides are two of the most likely suspects.  Have you observed bees working in the area of your gooseberry bushes during the flowering period of from April to June? One other consideration is theft by birds and small animals, all of which find the fruits of this plant very attractive. If you are not where you can observe your plants during different parts of the day, that could be what is happening.

In terms of when to plant, early Spring, before it begins to get warm, is the best time. We think this article from USA Gardener How to Grow Gooseberries covers the whole area very well. 

Pictures from Google

 

From the Image Gallery


Trumpet gooseberry
Ribes leptanthum

Trumpet gooseberry
Ribes leptanthum

More Pollinators Questions

Zucchini blooms but no fruit
August 26, 2008 - My zuchinni has lots of flowers, but they seem to fall and I am getting no fruit.. WHY
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming or fruiting Oregon grape holly in Elmhurst IL
May 14, 2010 - I have an Oregon grape holly bush that has never bloomed and has never had fruit. I have had the bush for at least 6 years, it is approximately 5 ft tall. Have had no problems, just no flowers/fruit....
view the full question and answer

Early, middle and late blooming flowers for pollinators in East Texas
July 05, 2010 - On our farm in northeast Texas we are participating in a Conservation Program through the NRCS. We have to plant 4 acres for pollinators--early blooming, middle blooming, and late blooming. I need t...
view the full question and answer

Cenizo for border of school garden from Cedar Park TX
January 27, 2014 - Hi. We're starting a school garden in Central Texas, and instead of building a fence along one side, we'd like to plant a hedge. Ideally, it would grow tall enough to deter deer from jumping over, b...
view the full question and answer

Artist's project on protecting pollinators in Austin
February 26, 2011 - I am designing a citywide artist's project to protect and preserve local, natural pollinators (with an emphasis on honeybees). What nectar-rich plants would you recommend for this type of project? ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.