Elderberry Bush – Transplanting and Propagating

Over the years the side garden area of our yard has gradually grown into a small forest area. My kids call the area “the thicket.” They play in the pathways I’ve cut through. Over time the sassafras trees have grown tall changing the hillside from just a grassy field to a small forest. Among the plants naturally growing in “the thicket” is a stand of elderberry bushes (Sambucus canadensis). I love the look of elderberries in the fall when they are loaded with berries and in the springtime when they bloom. Elderberries are easy plants to grow if put in the right place.elderberry bush transplanting propagating

Growing Elderberry

Elderberry bushes like to grow in a full sun to part shade location. In our yard the elderberries function as an understory plant and are doing quite well on the edges of taller trees in forest areas. They like soil that gets moist but is well drained. Elderverries have relatively show root systems that colonize areas. If you want to keep them under control keep them pruned back but in larger areas you can allow them to colonize.

Elderberry Propagation

Their colonization ability makes them an easy plant to propagate. Simply dig up an off shoot of the main plant, make sure it has some roots of it’s own, if it does then sever the main root connecting it to the mother plant, then pot it up in a pot. You can also do softwood cuttings very easily from elderberries. I transplanted one elderberry just recently and put in in a pot to take over to our land. So far I have not seen any elderberries over there and I’m hoping I can establish them.

Uses for Elderberries

Sambucus canadensis elderberries are edible but not all species are so make sure you know what you are growing. The edible varieties can be made into jams, jellies, juice, and wine. Elderberry stems were used by Native Americans to make flutes as they are very easy to hollow out. In the garden they grow between 5-12 feet and can be used as a deciduous hedge or along stream banks. They can also attract butterflies and pollinators when in bloom as well as birds when the berries are present.

Elderberry flowers in bloom