The American Elderberry is a wonderful plant to cultivate. They are suited for zones 4 to 9. The flower heads are used for syrup and for flavoring in alcoholic beverages, tea or ice cream and are also sometimes fried and made into fritters. The berries are good for making juice, wine, jam and a good tonic for a cough in the winter. Leaves are not edible - only the berries; and, the medicinal properties of this plant are widely written about. The elderberry has been used to treat constipation, stomach upset, colds, sore throat, and rheumatism. The fruit, or berries, contain antioxidant properties and have high levels of Vitamins A, B6, and C as well as iron, potassium, and calcium. Cooked berries are also edible and can be used in pies, pancakes, and jellies; and flowers and fruits used in winemaking, marmalade, yogurt, and desserts.
We take our seeds from our exceptional elderberry mother-plants on our tree farm that we have cultivated for over 10 years. The elderberry we cultivate on Family Tree Farm is an American Elderberry that is very versatile with delicious black berries. It produces beautiful white flowers that bees and butterflies love.
PLANTING YOUR SEEDS
According to Elderberry Edge Farm (see link below), “The most productive method to prepare your seed for planting is to mimic nature's natural conditions of warm stratification for 2-3 months followed by cold stratification for 3 months.” Elderberry seeds need to be stratified for germination. The seeds will germinate reliably if they are cold-stratified (put in the freezer for 60 or more days). If you want to plant the seeds in early spring, start stratification 60 days prior to planting. Plant seeds 1/2- to 1/4-inch-deep.
CARING FOR ELDERBERRY PLANTS
Elderberries are self-pollinating. Plant elderberries between 10 and 50 feet apart. Plant them in full sun to get the largest fruit yield and make sure the soil is slightly acidic, high in organic matter and moist. Elderberries also grow in the less sunny areas beneath tree canopies. After your plants are about two years old, let them grow wild but prune out older branches every spring. Elderberries have a five-day to 15-day ripening period from mid-August to mid-September which is the time to harvest. But in cooler climates this occurs in September or October. They cannot tolerate repeated flooding. Prolonged standing water in the spring and summer growing season will stunt the roots and subject them to fungal infections.
Here are some great recipes: https://freshbitesdaily.com/drying-elderberries/ and more resources here: https://www.elderberryedgefarm.com/pages/growing-the-elderberry