Happy Spring! Are you looking out your window at daffodils and geraniums? What about elderberry? At Norm’s, we are proud to be an industry leader in growing elderberry - but we know as elderberry becomes more and more popular, more elderberry enthusiasts like you are asking about elderberry farming!
To plant or not to plant? When to get started:
If you’re planting fully rooted elderberries, they should be planted in the spring or fall for success.
If you’re rooting elderberry cuttings, aim for colder weather. We carefully create our elderberry cuttings in the winter after the elderberries have lost all of their leaves and are fully dormant. Each cutting is made the same way; the slope cut is located at the “rooting end” of the cutting and the flat cut at the “leafing end” of the cutting. Elderberries root best in cold to cool weather and typically take 10 to 12 weeks to develop enough roots to be transplanted. (We share some of our best tips for rooting your own elderberry cuttings in this blog.)
Where to get started:
Elderberry is not difficult to grow once established.
The best place for your elderberry bush is one that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and allows the elderberry to get about 10 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet around. Elderberry is one of those plants that "sleeps, creeps and then leaps," meaning that it spends most of its first year establishing a good root system, begins to take off on the second year, and then grows vigorously during its third year.
Elderberry needs water - make sure you are planting your elderberry in a spot that gives you easy access to water it! If that’s not possible - make sure it’s in an area where it can get as much water as Mother Nature will allow.
Weeds and lack of water will be the biggest threat to your elderberry, especially early on. Keeping your first-year elderberry bush well-weeded will help ensure the survival of your elderberry bush. Established elderberries, three years and older, develop significant tap roots and will withstand drought and heat.
Don’t expect a lot of growth in the first year of your Elderberry bush. It’s a slow starter – growing mostly underground at its roots. If the leaves are a healthy green, don’t be alarmed if your elderberry doesn’t appear to be growing much during the first year. Water it once per week, pull out any weeds that have taken root, and pinch off any flowers that form as you want the elderberry to be putting all of its energy into its roots during the first year.
While you won’t see any berries the first year, you will have a harvest of flowers! These can be made into desserts, beverages, and tea (we even have a list of recipes for you!). As the second year rolls around, you will get your first crop of berries if all goes well. And your first significant harvest will occur when your bush is in its third year.
Think you’re ready to harvest? Check out our tips for harvesting, cleaning and storing elderberry on our blog.
We want to see your elderberry plants! Post a picture on Instagram or Facebook (or both!) and tag @normsfarms. We’re rooting for you!