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When and how to propagate elderberries?

Posted by canadianplant (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 20, 13 at 13:04

I am house sitting a place that is semi rural, and there are tons are great looking elderberries around the property. They all seem to have berries right now too, that are very bright red.

Other then digging up the canes or small plants, when is the best time and how would you propagate them? when can i tell the berries are fresh, or take cuttings?

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RE: When and how to propagate elderberries?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 20, 13 at 14:44

I had some non-ideal land at the bottom of my yard and put some elderberry cuttings there last fall. Late October I think- I took detailed notes, then forgot to record them and just found the scrap of paper. The land ranges from moist to swampy, as I had heard that elderberries like lots of water. Since then, I've learned that while they like it moist, they don't want swampy.

I wasn't sure what the take rate would be and I had plenty of prunings, so I used 4-6 per spot, each spot separated by 5-6', alternating varieties. I just checked it and in the first 4 spots have 1-5 living plants. The last 2 spots were the most swampy ground and none made it. I may have had a better take rate, but some were probably disturbed when I had the broken down old fence replaced a few weeks ago. After that, I weeded and mulched as you see below (the clump where 5 took). I'm not sure if I should thin to 1 plant, or just let them root-graft together into one big plant.

At the same time (last fall) I also took a left over cutting and put it into a pot. So far, it seems to have done well.

Keep in mind that this was for Sambuscus nigra (Samdal and Sampo)- I'm not sure what type you have and it may behave differently.

UMASS says:
Elderberry can be propagated from softwood cuttings in June and from tissue culture. Hardwood cuttings taken in early spring have about a 50% rooting rate, and are sceptible to damage in overly wet media. Divisions, and even seed propagation can also be used for propagation.

RE: When and how to propagate elderberries?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 20, 13 at 17:22

I should also caution that the pruning I did last fall (from which I planted) was insufficient. The older of the 2 original elderberry bushes (4th leaf) I have is now 12+' tall and around 12' wide as well. I'll have to cut it back much more severely this winter, as I don't want it shading the fruit trees.

In this pic it is the large plant in the center of the hill, about half-way up is a Samdal elderberry. The trees on the right are recently added apples, plums, and an apricot, with blueberries on the hill next to (and in some cases swallowed up by) the elderberry. In the distance, near the white fence (just past the raised bed with currants and gooseberry), is where I planted the cuttings last fall.

The fruit is just starting to ripen, so I'm going to give netting a try. I didn't last year, there wasn't enough fruit to bother, but it is loaded this year.

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