Question about the American Elderberry

paulan70(5)April 29, 2006

We recently added an american elderberry to our garden. Now here is my question what type of fertilzier does it need? And how often. And also will the American Elderberry produce berries on it's own or does it need another elderberry to produce berries and what type would be best for the American elderberry. Thanks so much


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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

The American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) probably doesn't need much fertilizer in most situations, but it is hard to say in your situation, since you don't list your location in your member page and don't tell us what your soil is like. I would guess that you could fertilize it with whatever works for other flowering plants in your yard, without too much nitrogen, which could induce rank growth. It is a suckering plant and quite fast-growing to about 12 ft high and 12 ft wide. You may want to figure out if you will need to limit growth. It grows near riverbanks in the wild and likes lots of water. It can take light shade. It attracts birds.

If you are growing it for fruit, you should plant another S. canadensis variety with it. You can place it quite close to your first plant and let them grow together if you like. If you planted a seedling, you can plant another seedling (but not a sucker from the same plant) for pollenization. Varieties known for good fruit include Johns, Adams and Nova. One Green World sells Johns and Nova. Ornamental varieties include Aurea, Lacinata and Maxima. They would probably also work for pollination and would likely give you some fruit, too (though not of the quality of the types developed for fruit).

Be aware that there are other elderberries besides the American Elderberry which are native to the Americas. The kinds with red fruit must be cooked before eating.

Here is a link that might be useful: One Green World Elderberries

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 6:39PM
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Thank you for the reply the spot where the elderberry is planted is near an old drive way so it is probably full of rocks and it is also in a clay area though we have put an amended soil combination of potting mix, compost and a little bit of top soil. I am in Indiana. And it is in the shade for the most part with a bit of sun during the day.

Does the elderberry like acidic or regular soil types. And what are the berries like with the American elderberry. My hubby has dreams of trying to make elderberry wine when the plant is more mature and has berries. So what plant would be th ebest to get for the match for the American Elderberry. Thanks


    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 1:13AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

My Sunset Western Garden Book doesn't say anything about elderberries being picky about soil. The berries of the American Elderberry are supposed to be more flavorful than other species of Elderberry. Both fruit and flowers are used to make wine, according the Sunset. My only experience with elderberries has been making jelly from wild Blue Elderberries.

If you want the best fruit quality, I would get one or two of the named varieties of American Elderberry developed for their fruit, such as Adams, Johns or Nova. If you bought your plant commercially, it may be one of these varieties. So, just to be sure, I would probably get two more plants (one each of two varieties) to ensure pollination. Other species of elderberry may or may not pollinate the American Elderberry.

Below in information on the 'York' elderberry, with pictures of the flowers and fruit.

Here is a link that might be useful: York Elderberry

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 1:54AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Just in case all these names are confusing:

Sambucus canadensis is the Scientific Name
American Elderberry is the Common Name

York, Adams and Nova are variety or cultivar names of the American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis).

If you paid more than a few dollars for your plant, it is likely to be a named variety like York, Adams or Nova. If you didn't pay very much, it may be grown from a cutting of an unnamed variety or it may be a seedling. If it is a seedling, you only need one named variety (or another seedling) to pollinate it. If you get another unnamed plant, get it from a different supplier than the first plant.

Named varieties are the best bets for good fruit. The varieties Adams and Johns have been grown together for decades because they usually bloom at the same time and have better fruit than most seedlings. I think Nova is a newer named variety, and there are other named varieties, too. Check the links above for characteristics of each variety.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 2:30AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Here's one variety comparison

Here is a link that might be useful: Elderberry varieties

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 3:00AM
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Monique_CA(z9 CA mothrlode)

Can you eat the berries raw? Or do they have to be cooked?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 8:47PM
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francis_eric(5 Illinois)

I have Never ate any of them, but from what I've been reading you can, but they have a harsh taste.
I think 2 verieties are poisonous, and the Unripe ones can make you Sick, Oh and the stems also.

White Edle Berries are supposed to Be more sweet according to what I've been reading I guess it Might Have somthing to do with The Tannin in the Red Edleberries.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 11:34AM
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I harvested seed from our native Blue Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) a few weeks ago. It does well on moist to dry soils here in Eastern Wa. If I grow these I was wondering if these can be pruned to control height/spread?



    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 2:11PM
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brotherjake(5A UT)

From what I've read and heard, the blue and red elders that are native to the northwest grow huge and don't taste very good. They must also be cooked before consumption. The American varieties (canadensis) are the sweetest, but the European varieties (nigra) can be sweetened and have good flavor as well. The darker the berries, the higher the flavonoid levels in the fruit.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:59AM
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I planted a elder beery from my local greenhouse and after it bloomer white flowers it looks like all feel off and there are just sticks where flowers used to this normal?

I am in the southern Ontario area of canada.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 6:04PM
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leila hamaya(8 nor cal)

yes i have seen this often with elderberry. even with well establishes patches with multiple plants, some of the berries will be great and some just dont quite make it.

they take quite a while to get fully established before they produce a lot of flowers and berries.

often they grow in huge patches with huge plants, you may want to add a couple of others of a similar variety to get better berries. and be patient, at least in my experience these take a couple of years to really get into their groove.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Elderberry used to grow wild in my area, zone 7 N. MS. BUT you don't see them much these days. Where do you buy an elderberry tree. I went looking and didn't find one.
Please let me know. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 1:36PM
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i have 3 Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis, got them from the wild, in 2 years they are 12 feet high and Loaded with berries. How dark do they need to be before you can eat them? They are a little darker then what they look like in this pic. BTW i am in Arlanta Ga

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 4:54PM
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