Care of Elderberry Plants


Elderberry plants provide attractive green foliage, tiny, delicate blossoms and edible berries. Use the berries for jams, jellies or red wine. Growing elderberry plants is not difficult, provided the soil is rich in nutrients and well-drained, and pruning and watering is performed according to this plant's specific needs.

Step 1

Test the soil around the elderberry plants. Amend the soil, if necessary, to reach a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

Step 2

Pull weeds from around new plants, but be careful not to disturb the roots. Apply a 4-inch deep layer of mulch such as wood chips or peat to help prevent weeds.

Step 3

Keep the soil moist. Water at soil level when possible. Watering the soil directly with a soaker hose helps to prevent fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew.

Step 4

Feed each elderberry plant with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. Follow the label instructions for dosage. Apply 1/8 lb. of ammonium nitrate for each year of age of the plant as an alternate fertilizing option.

Step 5

Prune dead or weak-looking canes yearly from plants that are 3 to 4 years old, in late winter. Leave an equal amount of first-, second-, and third-year canes when pruning.

Tips and Warnings

  • Only elderberry plant blossoms and fruits are edible. The rest of the plant is toxic.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH testing kit
  • Compost (or composted manure)
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Garden hose (or soaker hose)
  • Garden gloves
  • Garden shears
  • Bucket


  • Cornell University: Elderberries
  • Old Fashioned Living: Elderberry
  • WineMaker Magazine: Elderberry Wine
  • Reader's Digest: A Guide to Mulch
Keywords: elderberry plant care, growing elderberry, caring for elderberries

About this Author

Corey M. Mackenzie is a professional freelance writer with knowledge and experience in many areas. Corey received a B.A. with honors from Wichita State University and has been a writer for over two decades. Corey specializes in pets, interior decorating, health care, gardening, fashion, relationships, home improvement and forensic science. Corey's articles have appeared in Garden Guides, Travels and other websites online.