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How to Grow an Elderberry Tree From Seeds

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How to Grow an Elderberry Tree From Seeds

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The elderberry is a perennial shrub that is hardy in USDA growing zones 4 and higher. The shrub produces a white scented flower and small purple berry in the summer months. Propagation occurs through seed germination, however patience is required during the process as it may take up to two years to complete. The shrub grows quickly once seedlings are present and will reach maturity in three to four years. Elderberries are used in the food production of pies, jams and jelly.

Planting in the ground

Step 1

Harvest elderberry fruit when ripe. Lay berries in a single layer on a flat surface to dry.

Step 2

Smash dried fruit with water gently in a blender so the seeds float to the top. Separate the seeds from the mixture. Air-dry the seeds for planting or storage.

Step 3

Store the seeds at a temperature of 41 degrees F if not planting. The seeds will store for up to two years.

Step 4

Sow the seeds in the fall season at a depth of one-fourth inches and density of 35 plants per square foot of area. Cover the seed with a three-eighths inch layer of sawdust mulch.

Step 5

Mark the planting area and monitor as germination will not be completed until the second spring after planting.

Step 6

Water the seed planting area to keep the soil moist. Gently remove weed growth.

Planting in pots

Step 1

Stratify the seeds for two months in a greenhouse by placing them in a mixture of sand, peat and vermiculite. Keep the temperature at 70 to 85 degrees F during the process.

Step 2

Place the seeds just under the soil surface of seed starting trays filled with moist seed starting media. Continue to germinate the seeds in a greenhouse.

Step 3

Keep the soil moist but not wet during germination.

Step 4

Transplant the seedlings into three inch pots for continued growth.

Step 5

Transplant the seedlings outdoors in the fall season once they reach six to eight months of age. Water the transplant in areas where the soil is dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Elderberries
  • Blender
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Greenhouse
  • Sand
  • Peat
  • Vermiculite
  • Seed starting soil
  • Seed starting tray
  • Three-inch pots


  • United States Department of Agriculture: Common Elderberry Plant Guide
  • Cornell University: Elderberries
Keywords: elderberry propagation, planting elderberry seeds, elderberry seed germination

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.

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