Growing Elderberries at the Allotment

Growing Elderberries at the Allotment

Elderberries (Sambucus) is an ornamental tree that produces clusters of tiny white flowers followed by dark berries during summer and autumn with an array of coloured foliage. Elderberries are easy to grow; they will tolerate most soil types and can grow in full sun and full shade.

Dormant bareroot trees can be planted in autumn to early spring and container grown trees can be planted any time, in to well-drained soil. Dig in some well-rotted manure or compost. Elderberries will tolerate most soil types and locations.

Water regularly until the Elderberry tree is established. Elderberries are drought tolerant. Add mulch to retain moisture and supress the weeds.

Pruning and training is not essential, however the Elderberry tree can grow vigorously and you may wish to keep it to a certain size or shape for easy harvesting or for cosmetic reasons. Established Elderberries should be hard pruned in winter or early spring to help invigorate the tree.

Elderberry plants are generally trouble-free, however be watchful for blackfly on young shoots. You may also wish to protect the fruits from the birds.

The delicate flowers, (Elderflower) form in clusters during June can be used to infuse drinks. If you are growing for the Elderberries, leave the flowers. The berries will form and ripen following the flowering, with ripened berries ready to harvest in late summer and autumn. 

Raw Elderberries are not edible, they are used to make wine and syrups.

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Growing Elderberries in Summary

Planting Elderberries

  • Plant dormant bareroots in autumn - early spring
  • Conatiner grown canbe planted any time
  • Can be planted in full sun to full shade

Growing Elderberries

  • Water until established
  • Prune for shape and size
  • Hard prune for established trees

Harvesting Elderberries

  • Harvest Elderflowers June
  • Harvest Elderberries later summer - autumn
  • Fresh, raw Elderberries are not edible