How to grow elderberries from seed

Most cultivars of elderberry will not grow through seed but the non-hybrid varieties will grow through seed. According to some gardeners, elderberries cross-pollinate with any other elderberry bushes growing within sixty feet, making the risk of gathering accidentally hybridized seeds very high. Some of the species like the blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra subsp. cerulea) grow through from seed and they are suited to gardens in a wide range of climates within USDA plant hardiness zones four to nine. The seeds will really germinate reliably if they are cold-stratified and started under the right conditions. The process really requires patience because the stratification process can take a lot time.

Some Of The Things You Will Need

The following are the things you will actually need;

  • 1-gallon nursery pot
  • Paper towel
  • Seed-starting compost
  • Sealable plastic bag
  • Potato masher
  • Fine sieve
  • Mulch
  • Bucket
  • Coarse sand or perlite

How To Gather Seed From an Elderberry Tree

Growing elderberry from fresh berries and also growing elderberry from dried berries does not work, what you really need to do is to look for plump berries that are bluish-black in color with a waxy white coating on the skin. The elderberry fruit normally ripens in late summer and the berries need to be harvested before the birds peck them. You need to gather several bunches of the berries and then place them in a bucket. You can easily crush the berries with a potato masher or other blunt instrument and then cover them with water. Soak the crushed berries for about twenty-four hours, mix them occasionally to agitate the pulp.

Furthermore, the pulp and the old, unusable elderberry seeds will float to the surface of the water, where they can be easily skimmed off and thrown away. Gently pour out half the water before pouring the remainder through a fine sieve in other to retrieve the healthy, viable elderberry seeds from the bottom of the bucket. At this point in time the elderberry seeds can be spread out to dry on a sheet of newspaper and then stored under cool, dry and dark conditions for later sowing, or they can be stratified and sown right away to start a new elderberry tree.

Growing Elderberry Tree from Seed

Chilling elderberry seeds are very important because they can take 2 to 5 years to sprout without stratification. Wrap the elderberry seeds in a damp paper towel and then place it in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for about sixty to ninety days. Actually, the dried and stored elderberry seeds need extra treatment to germinate. The elderberry seeds must be soaked in water for about 3 days before being stratified in a moist paper towel in the refrigerator for 3 months.

Furthermore, start the elderberry seeds in one gallon nursery pots filled with a moist mixture of half seed-starting compost and half coarse sand or perlite. It is advised to sow the elderberry seeds at a depth of ΒΌ inch then cover the surface of the soil with about 3/8-inch-thick layer of sawdust mulch. You can place the pots outdoors in a bright, sheltered location and also keep the soil moist. Watch for the first seedlings in 4 to 6 weeks, most times it can take several months for the elderberry seeds to germinate.

Transplanting The Elderberry Seedlings

The elderberry seedlings actually need to grow under nursery conditions for about 1 year before being transplanted into the garden. Make sure you keep them in a sheltered location with some light shade at midday, and also protection from strong wind, while they develop a dense root system. The elderberry seedlings actually need regular watering. Make sure you slowly acclimate the seedlings to stronger sun, colder temperatures and wind over the course of a few weeks before transplanting them into a permanent bed in autumn or spring, this process is called hardening. Elderberry trees do well in full sun and fertile, fast-draining soil. Most gardeners recommend spacing elderberry shrubs six to ten feet apart. Elderberry has a shallow root system, the seedlings actually need regular watering during their first year in the ground. Elderberry seedlings also benefit from a three inch-thick layer of mulch spread around the base in other to keep the soil moist and cool during the hot summer months.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.