Planting elderberries may be the way to go for your own family’s stash. It’s been difficult to get elderberries at a reasonable price due to the limited supply and huge demand, so people are growing their own. I will show you how we did it.
As a society, we have gone outside the home for most of what we need and want in our lives. To mix homemade and homegrown into as much of our lives as possible – even in the littlest things – can change so much.
The reward in growing elderberries is the healthful berries. The dark purple fruit contain vitamins A and B, and more vitamin C than oranges. They are also high in cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Elderberry Shown Very Effective (& Safe) in Numerous Studies
Elderberry fruits have historically been used to treat many ailments like respiratory congestion, colds, and flu.
See the numerous PubMed studies here. See recipes here and here.
Note for recipes: 2/3 cup dried elderberry =1 1/3 cup fresh/frozen
Plus, they are tasty when used in jellies, jams, teas, pies, and wine. You can use the umbrels (umbrella-shaped) elderberry blossoms for making a delicious fritters. And if you don’t use all the berries, they are great food source for the birds. Not safe to eat more than just a few raw.
Attributes of the plant:
The most common type of elderberry available to us in the U.S. is the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). The American elderberry is the wild species often found growing in old fields and meadows. It can grow 10 to 12 feet tall and wide (so give it space). It is not invasive, and is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8.
The following 4 varieties are American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis).
Elderberries bear fruit the very best when you plant at least two different varieties within 60 feet of each other.
They start producing when the plants are 2 to 3 years old. While all elderberries produce berries, there are several varieties of the American elderberry that are especially good fruit producers. For a more ornamental elderberry, look to the European varieties with their attractive foliage.
Here are some of the best selections to try in your yard if you want to produce berries for syrup and tincture:
- ‘Adams’ – This American variety grows 8 to 10 feet tall. The large, juicy, dark purple fruits ripen in August and are great for making pies. The strong branches hold the berries upright. Plant a pollinator variety such as ‘Johns’ for maximum fruiting. This variety is often sold as ‘Adams No. 1’ or ‘Adams No. 2’. There is little difference between these two selections.
- ‘Johns’ – This early-producing American variety produces an abundance of berries that are especially good for making jelly. Growing 12 feet tall and wide, this variety is a good pollinator for ‘Adams’.
- ‘York’ – This American variety produces the largest berries of all the elderberry selections. It matures in late August and only grows 6 feet tall and wide. It pollinates ‘Nova’ well.
- ‘Nova’ – This American variety can be self-fruitful, but does best with another American elderberry growing nearby. Large, sweet fruit are produced on compact, 6-foot shrub.
Plant Elderberries For Your Own Stash!
It is best to plant in the fall but you can also do it in spring if they get plenty of water until their roots get established!
You may lost them if you get an early hot summer right after planting and their higher water needs aren’t attended!
To give you an idea of how much room you will need if you ever plant elderberry (you need two different varieties for fertility), here on the right is a picture of the largest one, ‘Johns’. They are both taller than I am when the fruit is hanging.
Our other variety (because you need 2 for fertility) is ‘York’ on the left.
Planting and Plant Care Guide
This is the care guide from Edible Landscaping (where we bought our Johns and York varieties years ago):
“Elders grow in zones 3-9. Plant in sun or partial shade with at least 6 hours of sun per day. They are not fussy about soil type and are adapted to most of the United States.
“Prune in early spring. Cut out all but five or six vigorous, erect, one year old canes and one or two two-year-old canes. All these canes should be grouped within a 2′ circle. At the same time trim 6” off tips of the laterals on the older canes.
“Pests are usually not troublesome enough to worry about.
“Termed “The medicine chest of the country people” by Ettmueller, a scientist from the 1700s. The elder was held in such esteem as to have been the subject of an entire book, ‘The Anatonie of
the Elder,’ authored in 1644 by Dr. Martin Blockwich.”
“Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” ~Daniel Webster