Where and How Elderberry Grows: A Comprehensive Planting Guide

If you are looking for a comprehensive guide on elderberry plants, look no further! In this article, we will discuss when to plant elderberry, where it grows, and which variety is best for your needs. By the end of this article, you will have all the information you need to make an informed decision about adding an elderberry bush to your garden!

Where Does Elderberry Grow?

Elderberry grows in a variety of climates and locations, including the United States, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The plant prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade. Elderberry is tolerant of a wide range of soils, although it prefers well-drained soil that is high in organic matter.

Elderberry grows best in zones 3-8 from the Global Plant Hardiness Zones image below. While it has been known to grow in colder and even warmer regions than 3-8, it does best in these regions and doesn’t require as much care. Be sure to check out our guide on identifying elderberry so that you’re familiar with common lookalikes.


Global Plant Hardiness Zones Chart

How Does Elderberry Grow?

Elderberry can be propagated by seed, division, or cuttings. The best time to plant is in the spring or fall. Keep in mind that elderberry takes two to three years to fully grow and start to produce full fruit capacity. These trees have been known to live for over 60 years, so they are an excellent addition to any garden.

If you are planting by seed, stratify the seeds for one to three months before planting. When planting elderberry by division or cuttings, make sure to choose a young, healthy plant.

When To Plant an Elderberry Bush?

Elderberry can be planted any time from early spring after frost has passed to late fall. Early spring is the best choice, but the plant is extremely hardy, so late fall is totally viable as well. The goal is to avoid excessive heat or cold, so whenever this type of climate lines up with your geography is best. Be sure to keep the plant well watered and maintained the first couple of months, since this is when it is most vulnerable.

Spring time climate

When To Prune an Elderberry Bush?

Elderberry should be pruned in the late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant. Pruning elderberry shrubs helps to promote new growth and keeps the plant healthy. It is important to prune elderberry bush before new growth begins in the spring.

Are Elderberry Roots Invasive?

No, elderberry roots are not invasive. The plant has a shallow root system that is not known to spread or cause problems in gardens.

Which Elderberry Plant is Best?

There are a few different varieties of elderberry plant that you can choose from, including American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), European elderberry (Sambucus nigra), and black elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’). American elderberry is the most cold-hardy of the three varieties and is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. European elderberry is the most popular variety, due to its large, sweet berries. Black elderberry is a newer variety that is prized for its ornamental value.


Step List To Plant Elderberry Bush

  1. Choose when to plant elderberry based on your climate (early spring to late fall)
  2. Select a young, healthy looking plant
  3. Plant in well-drained soil that is high in organic matter
  4. Keep the plant well watered and maintained for the first few months
  5. Prune in late winter or early spring
  6. Enjoy your plant for years to come!


Will Elderberry Grow In Florida and Southern States?

Yes, elderberry can grow in Florida and other southern states. However, the plant is not as cold-hardy as it is in northern states. If you live in a southern state, choose a variety that is specifically bred for your region.

Do Elderberry Plants Spread?

No, elderberry plants do not spread. As previously mentioned, they have a shallow root system that is not known to spread or cause problems in gardens.

How Long Does It Take For an Elderberry Plant To Product Fruit?

It takes three to five years for an elderberry plant to produce fruit, but it can being producing some of its hallmark white flowers sooner than this. Once the plant begins producing fruit, it will continue to produce fruit for many years. Keep in mind that the berries are poisonous until heated.

Does Elderberry Grow From Seed?

Yes, elderberry can be propagated by seed. However, it is best to stratify the seeds for one to three months before planting.

Can You Grow Elderberries Inside?

No, elderberries cannot be grown inside. The plant requires full sun and well-drained soil to grow properly. If you live in a northern state, you can grow elderberries in a greenhouse. However, if you live in a southern state, it is best to grow elderberries outdoors.

When Do Elderberries Ripen?

Elderberries ripen in the late summer or early fall. The exact date will depend on the variety of you choose and the climate where you live. Keep in mind that it’s normal for the elderberries to be slightly stinky.

How To Harvest Elderberries?

Elderberries can be harvested by hand or with a small tool such as a fork or pruner. It is best to harvest elderberries when they are fully ripe and have turned a deep purple color.

Is It Hard To Grow Elderberry?

No, elderberry is not hard to grow. The plant is fairly easy to care for and does not require a lot of maintenance. However, it does require full sun and well-drained soil to grow properly. There is also a lengthy initial growth time before the plant will begin to produce berries.

Do Deer and Squirrels Eat Elderberry Bushes?

Yes, just like humans eat elderberry gummies and other products made out of elderberry, deer and squirrels may eat elderberry bushes. However, the plant is not a preferred food source for these animals. If you have a problem with deer or squirrels eating your elderberry bush, you can try using a fence or other physical barrier to keep them away. You can also try using a deer or squirrel repellent. If none of these options work, you can try planting in an area where these animals do not frequent.

When Can I Transplant Elderberry?

The best time to transplant elderberry is in the spring, after the last frost date. Elderberry can also be transplanted in the fall, but it is best to transplant the plant in the spring when it is actively growing.

What Kind of Soil Does Elderberry Like?

Elderberry prefers well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. The plant does not like wet or soggy soil. If your soil is heavy clay, you can improve it by adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss. You can also grow it in raised beds or containers.

How Much Water Does Elderberry Need?

Elderberry does not need a lot of water. The plant is drought-tolerant and can withstand periods of dry weather. However, it will produce more fruit if it is watered regularly during the growing season.

How To Fertilize Elderberry?

Elderberry does not need a lot of fertilizer. If you live in an area with poor soil, you can fertilize the plant in the spring with a slow-release fertilizer. Otherwise, it does not need to be fertilized.

How Big Do Elderberry Bushes Grow?

Elderberry shrubs can grow to be six feet tall and eight feet wide. However, the size of the bush will depend on the variety you choose.

Can You Start an Elderberry From a Cutting?

Yes, elderberry can be propagated from cuttings. The best time to take cuttings is in the late summer or early fall. Cuttings should be taken from new growth that is six to eight inches long. The cuttings should be placed in a rooting hormone and then planted in well-drained soil. Cuttings will take one to two years to begin growing elderberries.

How Far Apart Should I Space My Elderberry Plants?

Elderberry plants should be spaced four to six feet apart at minimum. This is true whether you’re planting another elderberry bush or any other plant.

What Is The Difference Between Sambucus Canadensis and Sambucus Nigra?

The two most common types of elderberry are Sambucus canadensis and Sambucus nigra. Sambucus canadensis is native to North America and grows in the wild in most of the eastern United States. Sambucus nigra is native to Europe and Asia and has been introduced to North America. Both plants produce dark purple berries and are similar in appearance and growth habit, with Sambucus nigra generally growing a bit taller.