Elderberry Growing Guide

S. canadensis (North America), Sambucus nigra (European)


Crop Rotation Group



Moist, well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost.


Full sun to part shade. Elderberries grow into large bushes or small trees, and are most at home near streams or other in moist spots.

Frost tolerant

Yes, both the European and North Amercian species are very cold tolerant.


None needed, but young plants require steady moisture to become established.


Single Plants: 8' 2" (2.50m) each way (minimum)
Rows: 6' 6" (2.00m) with 9' 10" (3.00m) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Set out purchased plants in spring at about the time of your last frost. Water regularly to keep the roots from drying out.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Elderberries can benefit pollinators as well as animals and songbirds that eat the berries. Young plants need protection from deer.


Cut fruit clusters when the berries are dark blue to black and droop from their weight. The berries can be washed, patted dry and frozen, or you can cook them into a juice for making jelly. Fruits left on the plant will be harvested by animals and birds in early autumn.


Elderberries can develop several leafspot diseases, but the vigorous plants recover from passing problems. The American species spreads by sending out rooted suckers and can become weedy in some sites.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Elderberry