Why You Should Be Planting Red Elderberry In The Apartment

6 Min Read

Red Elderberry is a hardy and low-maintenance shrub that may be grown in pots or in the yard. Elderberries grow naturally as a shrub with thick branching near to the ground.

Elderberries are beautiful plants that yield excellent berries in late summer and early fall. Most elderberries are cultivated in the landscape, although they may also be grown in containers.

Elderberries are well-known for their delicious berries, which are treasured as homegrown medicine, and their gorgeous white blooms. Elderberries are one of the most flexible and productive plants in the garden.


The Elderberry (Sambucus) is a big bush or shrub native to the United States and Europe. Sambucus is a flowering plant genus in the Adoxaceae family. Elder and elderberry are popular names for various species.

Elderberries are well-known for their delicious berries, which are treasured as homemade medicine, and their gorgeous white flowers.

The elderberry recognized by its serrated leaves, which grow in clusters of three to nine on each side of a stem. The leaves are pinnate and oppositely arranged, with 5-9 leaflets. Each leaf is 5-30 cm long, with serrated edges on the leaflets.

This tree grows at a modest rate of 6 to 12 feet per year in its first few years. It may take 2 to 3 years after planting to develop fragrant, waxy white blooms and fruits in the spring and fall.

In late spring, they produce large clusters of little white or cream-colored blooms, which are followed by clusters of small black, blue-black, or red berries. Humans, dogs, and cats can all be harmed by raw elderberries.

Plant Overview

  • Common Name: Elderberry, American elder, wild elderberry, common elderberry
  • Botanical Name: Sambucus nigra, Sambucus Canadensis
  • Family: Adoxaceae
  • Plant Type: Shrub, woody perennial
  • Size: From 2 feet to 20-30 ft. tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-drained
  • Soil pH: Neutral, acidic
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-9 (USDA)
  • Native Area: North America and Europe
  • Toxicity: Toxic (when raw) to humans, toxic to dogs and cats

Types of Elderberry Plants

There are various types of elderberries and within those types are numerous varieties. Many nurseries offer a variety of elderberry plants as well. The most of the elderberry types include the following:

Common elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis): This forest shrub, often known as “American black elderberry,” is endemic to eastern and central Canada and the southern United States. It reaches a height of 8 to 12 feet and has big flat-topped clusters of white flower.

Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra): Also known as “European elderberry,” it is similar to the American species but grows higher (up to 20 feet) and blooms sooner. This species’ cultivars are popular garden plants, with many having smaller growth habits, purple or variegated leaves, and double blooms.

Blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea): This type may reach a height of 30 feet and is also classified as a tree rather than a shrub. It is native to western North America, ranging from Oregon to Baja to western Texas. Creamy yellow blooms bloom in the spring, and dark bluish-purple berries appear in the fall.

Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa): Because of its gorgeous red berries and strong, erosion-preventing root systems, this cold-tolerant shrub is frequently used as an ornamental. The fruit is less tasty than others, yet it is quite appealing to birds. With a broad, arching structure, it grows to be 8 to 12 feet tall.

Dwarf elderberry (Sambucus ebulus): Dwarf elder varies from others in one key manner, in addition to its small size (2 feet tall), in that it grows highly robust underground rhizomes and may quickly establish vast colonies. It is best suited for growing in big pots or in a region.

How To Grow Elderberry Plant

Elderberries, honeysuckle species, are simple to grow as shrubs or small trees. They can withstand a variety of conditions, including poor soil and very damp areas. Drought, on the other hand, is one that elderberries cannot tolerate.

When planting elderberry bushes, keep in mind that the berries will appear on the bushes the first year they are planted. Just be aware that the berries will do better the next year.

Elderberry planting works best in loamy, well-draining soil. Add a few inches (5 to 10 cm) of organic matter to sandy soils to improve them. Plant elderberries are as early in the spring. Water them after planting to ensure they have a good start.


Red Elderberry, more colorful types, benefits from severe pruning while young in order to create a full, bushy form. Plants flower on old wood, so if you want blooms and/or berries, prune after flowering.

Pruning elderberries is not necessary until the third year. In the early spring, prune off dead or diseased branches, and remove branches that are more than four years old since they are less productive.

Fruit develops on both young and old wood, although one- and two-year produce the most fruit. Pruning out older promotes fresh growth. Before pruning, wait until the plants are dormant in the winter.

Elderberries grow new canes and lateral branches every year. Second-year canes with lateral branches are the prolific. The old canes become less productive after three or four years and can be cut away.

Harvesting Elderberry

Red Elderberry flowers should be plucked once the entire cluster has bloomed. Simply cut the entire cluster of blooms off. Harvesting the flowers should be done with caution since taking many blooms can impede the fruiting process.

Elderberries should be picked when fully ripe. Elderberries are fully ripe when the color changes to a rich dark purple or black and the berries remain plump. Cut the stem directly beneath the full cluster of berries with pruning shears.


Elderberry is easily propagated by berry-eating birds that drop the seeds they consume from the fruit. Those seeds normally sprout and develop into healthy trees. Collected and propagated seeds may not sprout and not replicas of the parent plant.

Here are simple steps for propagating elderberries in water with cuttings:

  • In the early spring, take a 4 to 6 inch softwood cutting with a sanitized gardening cutting tool. The cut should be soft and slightly green, but browner.
  • Remove the leaves from the bottom of the cutting, but leave one set of leaves at the top. Dip the bottom end of the plant in rooting hormone.
  • Place the cutting in a clean, fresh jar of water. Put the jar in a sunny area for about six to eight weeks. Change the water frequently.
  • After two months of soaking, roots will grow. Because the roots are fairly delicate, keep the cuttings out of the ground for a few weeks until the plant’s roots are strong enough to head in the soil.

Red Elderberry Plant Care

Elderberry grows widely in the wild, and depending on the type, can be found along river banks in North America’s western and eastern areas.

Elderberries planted in containers require pruning yearly in late winter or early spring to keep from outgrowing pots. Fertilize annually in early spring using a granular fertilizer made for trees and shrubs to boost fruit growth.

Remove canes that sag to the ground, those that are broken or damaged, and those that cross each other and rub together. Cut the canes at the soil level to remove them.

Soil and Fertilizer

Red Elderberry trees are not finicky; however they need moist, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. An elderberry plant will grow in clay soil, but only if the soil is well-drained. They need water, thus they will not grow in sandy soil, and they can only survive flooding for a few days at most.

When elderberry is planted, there is no need to fertilize it. Fertilizing older elderberry bushes can be tricky. Younger plants may demand more nitrogen-rich fertilizer to boost growth, but older plants require less nitrogen. Test the soil before applying fertilizer to ensure that a nutrient shortage that must be corrected.

Light and Water

Elderberries thrive in broad sunshine, producing the most blooms and berries.  Partial shade is fine if you are not anticipating buds or fruits.

Most elderberry species prefer a full to part sun location, and will fruit better in full sun. In the summer, give elderberry plants 1 to 2 inches of water weekly.

Humidity and Temperature

This robust shrub does not require a certain temperature or degree of humidity. This plant, on the other hand, loves to be chilly rather than hot.

Pests and Diseases

Red Elderberries are prone to a few pests and diseases in the garden, although the plants are usually unaffected.

Elderberry shrubs are difficult to destroy. In addition to the typical aphids, mealybugs, elder shoot borers, and scale, you won’t meet many pests or diseases. Canker, leaf spot, and powdery mildew can all affect elderberry bushes.

The best way to prevent disease away from container-grown plants is to start with healthy transplants. Keep proper airflow by pruning regularly, and offer ample water and well-draining soil.

Hope you enjoyed reading the Planting guide of Elderberry. If you think we missed something or have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments section below.

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