15 Simple Steps to Growing Elderberries


Elderberries are fruits that can be used in different ways, including cooking and baking. Growing elderberries can be a rewarding and delicious experience, but it requires some knowledge and planning. This guide will walk you through 15 simple steps to grow elderberries. Let’s get started. 

Choose the Right Location


Elderberries thrive in areas receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and have good air circulation to prevent disease. Select a location with full sun and well-aerated soil, and avoid low-lying areas where water may collect.

Select the Right Variety


Some elderberry varieties are better for cooking, while others are ideal for medicinal uses. Opt for a variety suitable for your climate and desired use. Research different types, such as ‘Adams’ or ‘York,’ and choose one that fits your needs. 

Plant at the Right Time 


The best time to plant elderberries in areas with mild winters is in early spring after the last frost. For warmer climates with short winters, fall is ideal. Choose a cool, cloudy day for planting to minimize stress on your new elderberry, giving it the best chance to thrive.

Prepare the Planting Hole


When planting, it’s ideal to dig a hole that is twice the width and depth of the root ball. This gives the roots enough space to grow and establish themselves, resulting in a stronger, healthier plant.

Add Organic Matter


To give your elderberries a head start, improve your soil’s fertility with organic matter like compost or manure. The black elder prefers nutrient-rich, well-drained soils that fall between pH 5.5 and 6.5. Amending the planting depth with a 2-inch layer of compost or aged manure will provide the essential nutrients your elderberries need to thrive.

Handle with Care


Gently remove the plant from its temporary home and place it in the hole. Be careful not to disturb the roots or damage the plant in any way. It is important to help prevent any form of strain on the tender roots to ensure healthy growth.

Backfill and Tamp


As you fill it, pat down the dirt lightly. This helps to get rid of any air bubbles and makes sure the dirt is packed in nicely and close to the plant’s roots to provide firmness and stability.

Water and Mulch

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Apply mulch around the base to reserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. With this combination, you can reduce water loss, prevent soil erosion, and create a conducive environment for strong roots and vibrant plants.

Water Regularly

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Adequate soil moisture is important for plant development. Water regularly during the first year, especially during droughts. Keep the soil constantly damp but not waterlogged. 

Fertilize Annually

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Feed your elderberry once a year in early spring to boost fruit production. Choose a balanced, slow-release fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10:10:10. This provides steady nutrients throughout the growing season. Avoid overdoing it—less fertilizer is better than too much.

Prune for Health

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Yearly pruning in late winter/early spring removes dead, diseased, or damaged branches. This promotes healthy growth and boosts fruiting in your elderberry plant.

Remove Dead Wood

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Cut off any branches that are dead, diseased, or damaged to prevent the spread of pests and diseases such as canker and elderberry rusts. Removing dead wood also enhances the aesthetics and vitality of the plant. 

Thin for Air and Light


By thinning out some of the branches, you’re creating more space for air and sunlight. With good air circulation and sunlight reaching all the branches, you’ll encourage healthier growth and get a bigger harvest of delicious elderberries.

Harvest at the Right Time

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Elderberries are ready to harvest when they’re dark purple and have a sweet, slightly tart taste. Gather your elderberries in late summer or early fall when they’re ripe and dark purple.

Relish Your Harvest


Enjoy your homegrown elderberries in jams, wines, teas, or as a natural remedy! Use your freshly harvested elderberries in a variety of ways, including medicinal uses and natural remedies.


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