How to Propagate Native Idaho Blue Elderberry Plants


Native Idaho blue elderberry (Sambucus caerulea) is a deciduous shrub that will grow to a height of 15 feet in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 10. In the summer, the elderberry blooms in huge clusters of small, white flowers and produces blue elderberries in the late summer and fall. Native Idaho blue elderberry bushes are successfully and commonly propagated by seed. But, according to researchers with the United States Department of Agriculture, no matter the soil or conditions, propagation by cuttings is generally unsuccessful and not recommended. Plant your seeds in the fall to cut down on the amount of irrigation required by a spring planting.

Step 1

Pour the seeding mix into the pot and water it well. Allow the excess water to drain from the bottom of the pot.

Step 2

Place the blue elderberry seeds on the surface of the soil and barely cover them with a thin layer of soil. Pat down the soil over the seeds.

Step 3

Place the pot in a shady area that will remain cool. The pot can be placed outdoors and allowed to sit through the winter. Keep the soil moist at all times. Your seedlings will be ready to plant in their permanent location when they are six months old.

Step 4

Choose a location in which to plant the elderberry seedlings. It should have well-drained soil and receive at least three hours of morning sun.

Step 5

Dig into the planting bed to a depth of one foot. You will need to loosen the soil by crushing any large chunks and fluffing it with the gardening fork.

Step 6

Lay down a 3-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure and use the gardening fork to mix it into the loosened soil. Level the planting area with a rake.

Step 7

Dig holes 2 feet apart, the same depth and twice the width as the pot in which the elderberry seedlings germinated and place the roots of each seedling in a hole. Backfill the holes with soil and tamp the soil lightly around the base of each seedling.

Step 8

Water the area until the water puddles and then keep the soil moist. During dry periods you will need to water more frequently, cutting back in the winter.

Things You'll Need

  • Seeding mix
  • 1 gallon planting pot
  • Gardening fork
  • Trowel
  • Compost or well-rotted manure


  • Idaho Native Plant Society
  • University of Washington: Blue Elderberry
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture:Ability of Pacific Northwest Native Shrubs to Root from Hardwood Cuttings
Keywords: blue elderberry propagation, plant elderberry seeds, growing blue elderberries

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.