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American Elderberries are large shrubs that can grow up to 12 feet tall. They are grown from seeds or cuttings, with cuttings being more stable. Cuttings of the woody stem are said to be more viable if their diameter is greater than a pencil, but we have found them viable much thinner than that. Cuttings must have at least two sets of nodes (generally 3-6 inches apart) in order to grow. Below the lower node, the woody stem must be cut at a 45 degree angle to ensure the plant is put in the ground "right way up". Leaves will sprout from the upper nodes and later (sometimes much later and after the leaves begin to curl a bit) roots will emerge from the lower nodes and begin to establish the plant. 

In the absence of moisture, cuttings will remain dormant in cold temperatures making it possible to ship them across the country in the winter months. 

It is amazing to watch these little "twigs" sprout leaves and grow. What is even more amazing is the second year growth rates we have seen on our farm. On average, each of our elder plants has at least five new herbaceous stems growing from the base alongside last years woody stems. They have grown fuller and taller than we anticipated. Our goal is to provide our customers with quality organic elderberry cuttings that will grow and flourish like their mother plants. 


Our Elderberry Varieties

We currently sell Bob Gordons, Adams, and Ranch varieties. 


Planting your Elderberry Cuttings


Cuttings may be stored in the refrigerator between 30-42 degrees to keep dormant until planting. If you store them, keep an eye on moisture. If you see moisture building up in the bag, open it up and allow a little air in and use a paper towel to absorb excess, then reseal.


Once we get into late March or early April plan to get them into the ground. Typically, cuttings are planted in a line or row spaced 2-4 ft apart, with intentions to let them eventually grow into a mature hedgerow. They like full-sun and moisture but not an area where water sits throughout the year. Also, they certainly do not like grass or weed pressure!


In March or early April, prepare a spot by removing vegetation then adding a little compost. Loosen and break up the soil 1 ft. in diameter around where you intend to plant. Press the pointed end of the cutting into the loosened soil roughly 3-4 inches, making sure there is soil around the lower nodes on the cutting (leaving the upper nodes above ground.) Those will grow to be your roots and may push upwards as well. Keep the area weed free, mulch and keep relatively damp until established.


Cuttings may also be started indoors before planting outdoors. They can be potted the same way and kept in a sunny location until you are ready to plant outside. Keep the soil moist and keep them from freezing. Although they can withstand a freeze, I would keep small plants protected until after the risk of freeze has passed.


Consider adding nutrients, compost, fertilizer etc. as they grow into the summer and following years, but don’t over do it. The best practice is to remove flowers in the first year to stimulate root growth (Tough to do because you sacrifice the berries!) After the second year, consider trimming the bushes back 1-3 ft and be ready for new large shoots coming from below. The new growth is what relinquishes harvestable berries.


Typically, 80% of cuttings can be expected to survive; some less, some more with care. Enjoy your bushes, they are fun to grow!

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