4 Simple Methods for Elderberry Propagation
Propagating elderberry is so easy I wondered if I could even write a whole article about it! If you have access to this versatile, hardy, and immune-boosting plant, I encourage you to start your own plants or multiply the ones you have.
- Do Nothing
- Transplant Suckers
- Plant Cuttings
How to Propagate Elderberry Plants
There are four main ways to multiply elderberry plants and your method depends upon what parts of the plant you have access to.
I have never tried this method because the other methods work so effectively, easily, and predictably. However, the birds around here multiply elderberry by this method regularly. My advice: leave this method to the birds.
2. Do Nothing
If you already have elderberry plants in your yard and you just want more, step aside. The plants will do the work for you. Within a year, they will spread several feet. Within two years, the radius will be about 10 feet.
3. Transplant Elderberry Suckers
If you want to grow elderberry in a new place—either because the original plants aren’t yours or because you want to start a new colony—one simple and dependable way is to dig up one of the small plants coming up near the original. This is known as a sucker. You will have to cut the root where it connects to the main plant, but maintain as much other root as possible.
If the sucker exceeds four feet tall, it is best to cut it down to about three feet tall to reduce transplant shock. Save these cut-off sections for method four. Plant the sucker in the new location and water liberally. This is best done early in spring as soon as the ground thaws, or in the fall when the plant has lost its leaves.
4. Plant Elderberry Cuttings
This method is nothing short of miraculous. All you have to do is take a cutting from last season’s growth, use your fingernail to peel off a bit of bark around the bottom, and stick it in the ground about 6 inches deep. This works great in early spring when the stress on the plant is the least. The stick should be 2–3 feet long. Make sure the soil does not dry out for the next eight weeks or so. Voila! You have a new plant. I did this last winter, and every single stick I planted grew into a new plant.
Tips for Growing Elderberry Plants
- Not all elderberries are edible. If you plan to consume the berries, make sure that the plant you propagate from bears edible berries.
- Elderberry is not self-fertile and will therefore need a pollinator in order to harvest fruit. It doesn’t have to be in your yard, just nearby, but the closer the better. So, if you are getting cuttings or suckers from a friend or neighbor, it would behoove you to get ones from more than one bush.
- Water new plants regularly throughout the first summer.
- For best results, plant elderberry in full sun. However, it tolerates shade well.
- In some cases, a new plant will try to flower and bear fruit the first year. To encourage root growth and allow the main stem to stay straight, trim off the blossoms as they appear.
All Roads Lead to Elderberries
No matter which method of propagation you choose, soon you can be well on your way to having your own stand of elderberry. When provided with some basic care, elderberry plants will quickly fill unused space in your yard and provide attractive flowers and berries.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.