Elderberry shrubs (Sambucus canadensis) create berries that are used in jams, pies and wines. Their blooms are also incorporated in wines. The shrubs grow in full sunlight or partial shade in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. Elderberries grow up to 15 feet tall and also attract birds, deer and other wildlife. Planting different types of elderberry bush in 60 feet of each other will increase fruit production through cross-pollination.
Dig or until compost to the top 6 inches of soil before planting to add organic matter and enhance drainage.
Plant shrubs in early spring after frost danger has passed. Space multiple plants 6 to 10 feet apart. Dig a hole as deep and twice as wide as the origins. Place the plant at the center of this hole and backfill until the roots are covered. Pack the soil and add more if necessary.
Water the shrubs when they are planted. Water an inch per week between the period blooms appear and the fruit is picked. The remainder of the year, keep the soil moist and do not let it dry out.
Insert a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around shrubs to help control weeds and maintain soil moisture even. Keep the mulch several inches from the base of the tree to prevent decay.
Fertilize with 10-10-10 fertilizer each year in the spring before new growth begins. Insert 1/2 pound for each year the elderberry was growing, with a maximum program of 4 lbs of fertilizer.
Prune the elderberry shrub beginning the third year. Cut dead, damaged or diseased branches back to the base of the plant with pruning shears or a pruning saw. Remove all canes older than three years, as they’ll no longer produce fruit. New canes will grow to replace them.