Propagating Elderberry Bushes

I’ve really been trying to get a plan for my front yard garden this year. I’d give anything to be able to just hire somebody to do my landscaping for me!! It takes so much work to turn a bare yard, made up of nothing but hard red clay and weeds, into something beautiful and green. Any landscapers out there??

We put in two Elderberry bushes last spring (I think it was), and since I’d love to have more, I took some time today to work on propagating them. Plus, it really needed to be done now, in early spring.

Basically, propagating is taking a cutting, and planting it to make a new plant. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m totally going on what I’ve read, but hopefully it’ll work!

Using a pair of pruning shears, I cut a healthy stem off of one of my plants. The stem you choose needs to be about 6″ long, with at least two sets of leaves on it.

I chose this stem, since it crossed at an angle I didn’t like on the plant, and I cut it in half in order to make two new plants.

I decided to put these cuttings into pots instead of straight into the ground, since I don’t have a place ready for them yet. I just filled the pots with compost, and buried the stems up to the second set of leaves. The set of leaf nodes beneath the soil are supposed to turn into a root system.

It’ll be really great if these continue to grow into new plants. Especially since bare root elderberry plants can cost around $25 each!

I’m wondering if I should have put them in some sort of root growth accelerator?

If any of you have any experience propagating plants, I’d be grateful for your thoughts! Is there something I could have done better, or is this about it? It just seemed too easy!

**UPDATE:  It worked!! Check out the results HERE!

18 thoughts on “Propagating Elderberry Bushes”

  1. I Propagate about 1,000 plants each fall. In the spring I pull the pots from the ground and donate them to fish & game, forest service and other non profits for habitat projects.
    I have seen little difference in success in using rooting hormone. I am going to try the cinnamon this fall.
    i use different pots depending on the size of the cuttings 1, 2 ,3 gallon pots. the larger the pot the more success, usually run about 75-80%.
    my best success comes from taking root cuttings from suckers. I normally get 98% success.

    • Wow! 98% with elderberry root suckers? I have one that is spreading rapidly and I would love to move it to a better location. Do you happen to know if deer will eat them? Thnx! 🙂 Laura

  2. Cinnamon is a natural rooting hormone! Any time I propagate plants I sprinkle the end that will go in the ground with cinnamon. It works wonders. Cinnamon also keeps ants and other bugs away from your plant!

  3. My father makes elderberry wine and syrups. Since we have some land, and he is just on a small city plot he asked to grow some trees on my property. He brought me about 10 4 foot long elderberry branches that had just grown in that season (last summer). You can tell the new growth because the bark is differently colored. We put them in a water bucket until roots appeared and then I planted them. All of them are doing well. I hope my dad shares a bottle of elderberry wine with me. 🙂

      • I have rooted some in just water. I sit them where the sun hits them and change the water out every 4 or 5 days. I takes about four weeks for the roots to form.I do cut them on a slant and strip off about 6 inches of the bottom leaves!!! It does work!!!

  4. Yep I’ve known of and used the tip about willow sprigs forever. I keep willow switches in a bucket of water in spring and use that water to water new transplants and my sprouted seedlings, as well as for any plant that needs help with roots – i.e. when you divide a perennial or move a shrub. The willow branches will root in the water as well and you can share baby willow trees with your friends. Most of us know that we can get salycin from willow bark, so a willow tree is a good tree to have. Three foot long switches from my curly willows grew into shade-providing sizes in three years. That kind of fast growth could help with firewood; I know it’s not the best but it’s better than not having any.

  5. I used to pick the ripe elderberries along the road side. Then my gramma and I would make elderberry jam. It was so good on toast for breakfast.

  6. If you have a willow tree or Forsythia, soak your little branch in water into which you have a couple of willow or Forsythia branches That makes a natural rooting hormone. I usually put sand in with my compost and sometimes use just sand alone to root things like roses, shrubs etc. Keep them damp, in semi-shade and hopefully it’ll root for you.

  7. What I have done with bushes like this is just bend down an outside stem till it touches the ground. Place a clump of top soil over the branch in a couple of places to weight it down and keep it covered and in contact with the garden soil. Just leave it there for the summer. Where ever the stem touches the ground will develop a root bunch (not sure if that’s what it is actually called but that’s what it looks like to me). After that I snip the stem just below that spot and between each root bunch and plant the root bunch in a pot. I’ve successfully raised Forsythia this way and it seems to work with raspberries too. Not sure about Elderberry. Yup, a little Root-Tone might help too.

    • My dad said to make new starts to grape vines very similar to what you said. The only difference was that he would lightly scrape the outer bark of just one side of the stem to be buried in the ground. He said it would help it to root, and then once rooted, slice the original part of the vine just above ground level to separate the two, and dig up and re-plant the new growth.

  8. Just a note to tell that I have had a pretty good outcome using Root-tone. I usually cut the part I’m going to plant on a slant so I can get more Root-tone on it. I’m surely no expert. This is just the way I have tried with some success. Happy Planting………


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