How to Grow Elderberry - Nature's Original FARMacy

26 comments by Luke Marion

Elderberries are the fruit of the elder tree, which belongs to the Sambucus plant genus. The berries are small, dark purple to black in color, and grow in clusters. Elderberries have a tart, slightly sweet flavor and are commonly used in culinary applications, such as in jams, jellies, syrups, and baked goods.

In addition to their culinary uses, elderberries have also been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries, and evidence suggests that they have been cultivated for at least 4,000 years. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all used elderberries for their medicinal properties, and they were also commonly used in traditional European medicine.. They are rich in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, and have been used to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and relieve cold and flu symptoms. 

Elderberries are a rich source of vitamins and minerals; Here are some of the vitamins and nutrients found in elderberries!

Elderberries are a good source of vitamin C, which is important for immune function, skin health, and wound healing. Vitamin B6, which is important for brain function and the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Iron, which is important for the production of red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart function. Dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health and can help lower cholesterol levels. Antioxidants, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, which can help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.

Here is how you can grow them at home! Elderberries are relatively easy to grow and can be cultivated in a variety of climates, although they prefer temperate regions with mild winters. Here are some steps you can follow to grow elderberries:


Pruning: Elderberries should be pruned annually to remove any dead or damaged wood and to promote new growth. Prune in the late winter or early spring. Pruning out older growth can also make way for newer fruiting wood. 

Planting: Elderberries can be propagated from cuttings or from seed, but cuttings are generally more reliable. Plant cuttings in the early spring, about 2-3 inches deep and 6-8 feet apart. As elderberry bushes mature, they will grow in clusters. They are known as a communal bush. There are two types of Samyl and Samdal both need to be in the area to produce berries. 

Location: Elderberries prefer a location with well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight. They can tolerate a range of soil types, but prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH around 6. Elderberries also do not mind being crowded, they grow in scrubby fields naturally.

Watering and fertilizing: Elderberries prefer moist soil, so water them regularly, especially during hot, dry periods. You will find that the berries will form better and plants will have better fruit set with adequate moisture. Fertilize them two times a season with a well balanced fertilizer. In spring I use Trifecta+, because it will provide Nitrogen to get the plant out of dormancy. You can use anything high in Nitrogen though. In the Fall we use Trifecta+ because it has good amounts of Phosphorus to help establish the plant but use a fertilizer of your choice.

Harvesting: Elderberries typically ripen in late summer or early fall. Harvest the berries when they are fully ripe and deep purple in color. You can use the berries fresh or preserve them by freezing or drying. ***It's important to note that consuming raw elderberries can be toxic, so they should be cooked before consumption 

Propagating You can take cuttings from the plant and stick them in a bucket of sand. The sand should be kept damp at all times. Not soaking wet, but damp. This will allow for the elderberry cuttings to root in 4-5 weeks. 

A simple recipe for making elderberry syrup:

  • 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried elderberries
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 cup honey


  1. Rinse the elderberries and remove any stems and leaves. Place them in a saucepan with the water, cinnamon stick, ginger, and cloves.

  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about half.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or large measuring cup.

  4. Measure the amount of liquid you have and return it to the saucepan. Add an equal amount of honey to the liquid (e.g. if you have 1 cup of liquid, add 1 cup of honey) and stir to combine.

  5. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved completely.

  6. Remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool completely. Pour it into a clean glass jar or bottle and store it in the refrigerator.

You can take the elderberry syrup by the spoonful or mix it with water or tea. It's a delicious way to boost your immune system and ward off cold and flu symptoms.


  • Mary Lake

    I am trying to grow things to preserve for survival purposes so I need to grow things that will last a long time. I am interested in preserving elderberry for medicinal purposes. What do you suggest?

  • Debra

    How long does the elderberry syrup last in the refrigerator?

  • Alicia

    What are Samyl and Samdal ?

  • Donna

    Glenda, You can copy and paste pages you want into an email and send them to yourself.
    Then you can make a "MIgardener folder and “move” those emails into that folder and have all of your gardening pages in one place. Voile` you have those pages at your fingertips. If you choose you may copy and print those those pages as well. Blessings!

  • Mary

    How do I prevent or discourage birds from eating up all my berries? Arghhhh

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