Ask Dr. Phipps: Pink Champagne?
Q: Hello! I have always wanted to grow pink currants in my Pittsburgh (Highland Park) garden; however, I am anxious about planting Ribes because of their role as a white pine blister rust vector. I have driven around my neighborhood and don't see any long-needled pines nearby, but don't know "how far" is far enough away for white pines from Ribes and I couldn't find any info regarding the threat of WPBR in Western PA specifically. Is the 'Pink Champagne' cultivar sufficiently resistant to WPBR to safely plant in Pittsburgh? (I like it because of its flavor, compact habit and resistance to powdery mildew.) Or is there a more responsible choice? Thank you!
A: ‘Pink Champagne’ is a variety of Ribes rubrum, or Red Currants. According to the Penn State Extension, red and white currants are less susceptible to white pine blister rust (WPBR) than black currants. As you have already determined that there are no white pines nearby, you should be safe to plant Ribes rubrum ‘Pink Champagne’.
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