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How Far Apart to Plant Elderberry Bushes

Michael Gonzales
August 27, 2023
How Far Apart to Plant Elderberry Bushes

Curious about how far apart to plant elderberry bushes? These vibrant plants, often linked with powerful elderberry supplements, naturally flourish along riverbanks and stream banks with moist yet well-draining soils. For gardening success, ensure proper spacing and cultivate in a peat-free potting mix or enrich sandy soil with organic matter.


Elderberries thrive when placed in their proper environment and produce for decades without needing much care or fertilization, yet can struggle if planted incorrectly.

Elderberries can often be found growing along drainage ditches, streams and ponds in nature. Elderberries like cool, moist environments that are shaded from direct sunlight; partial shade may suffice but full sunlight provides optimal results. As these berries may be susceptible to root rot issues if planted near standing water sources, avoid planting in such spots when possible.

Plants tolerant of drought conditions tend to prefer soil that remains consistently moist but not wet, such as loam or sandy soil, that tends to dry out quickly without providing the essential nutrients they require. Amending it with organic material before planting will improve its capacity to hold and drain moisture more effectively.

Standing water will rot their roots, so ensure the planting site is not located too closely to a creek or riverbank, which could flood and drown them. Also ensure they have enough room to develop; some species can reach 12 feet in height and six feet wide or even taller!

When planting an elderberry plant, dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than its container or nursery bed roots. Fill this space with compost, working it in with a spade until everything has settled into place. After you’ve removed your new elderberry from its pot, loosen and detangle its roots before moving it to its new position.

Replace the soil that was removed, covering its roots with it and giving a good soak before setting the plant in place. However, avoid overwatering elderberries as this increases their susceptibility to fungal disease and other issues.

If planting multiple elderberry plants, space them about six feet apart with 10 feet between rows for proper development and cross-pollination with other cultivars. Even though elderberries tend to produce fruit on their own, this cross-pollination will improve yield and quality of your crop.


Elderberries are adaptable and hardy plants, yet they require well-drained soil in which to thrive. Sun to partial shade exposure is ideal, with elderberry bushes often growing along drainage ditches, streams, or ponds in nature. Their ideal soil has a pH between 5.5 and 6.6 and contains lots of organic matter for best growth – prior to planting amend the soil with plenty of compost or other organic matter before digging a hole twice the width and depth of where your nursery container originally held your elderberries.

Once your elderberry tree is planted, use mulch and water it thoroughly. Due to its shallow roots, take extra caution when weeding. One way is using your hands instead of force when pulling weeds; only pull where visible roots exist.

Alternatively, use a small, sharp hoe to avoid disturbing the roots. Do not apply herbicides as these could damage leaves and berries; once established elderberry bushes require minimal additional care once established.

Planting elderberry bushes as pairs rather than individually will promote cross-pollination and air circulation between them, helping prevent diseases that could otherwise invade their leaves.

Elderberries should be planted early in the spring before any frost has left their mark. Dormant bare-root plants can be set out immediately; active growth from nursery containers must wait until all danger of winter weather has subsided before being placed into the ground.

Elderberries need regular watering, but for best results it is imperative that their soil drains quickly so as to not suffocate their shallow roots. You should irrigate with one to two inches of water per week but make sure that no overwatering occurs – sandy soil may need additional irrigations throughout the week.


Elderberries tend to be free from pests and diseases, though powdery mildew may become an issue in certain locations. To combat it, site selection and mulching techniques can be effective; plant rows that are planted together can also be interplanted with smaller shrubs, forbs, and grasses as a hedgerow to prevent elderberries from shading out as they get larger. Elderberries are often troubled by birds once their fruits begin ripening; pruning can reduce this impact significantly while bird netting may also prove effective when harvesting is being carried out.

Elderberry plants thrive in full sun or partial shade conditions. It’s essential that soil remains cool and moist during their first year of establishment, especially with frequent watering of rotted hay or bark mulch as a form of soil conditioner. Regular applications of organic compost should help with maintaining optimal pH between 5.5-6.5 levels in their environment.

Elderberry plants tend to have shallow roots. When filling in the hole, incorporate compost or other organic matter such as peat into the dirt before lightly tamping down to pack down. Cover the elderberry bush’s base with mulch (rotted hay or bark) to retain moisture while also controlling competing weeds.

Pruning elderberries is best done during winter or early spring when their plants are dormant, by first removing any dead canes and any that appear diseased, then by selectively pruning old canes that don’t produce well and thinning out those remaining canes – this will direct more energy towards producing fruit in two years’ time.

Fertilizing elderberry plants usually is not necessary, but if their health has declined and they require feeding, timed-release fertilizers such as 10-10-10 may be applied in spring to increase growth. As each year passes for one plant, increase by half an ounce until reaching 4 pounds total per plant.


Elderberry bush spacing depends heavily on ensuring they receive enough water. New plants especially require adequate irrigation in order to mature enough and bear fruit the following season. Mulching with organic slow-release fertilizer such as pine needles can also help keep soil damp. Elderberries typically require one inch of irrigation every week during their first summer of blooming.

Elderberries should be planted after the last frost has subsided for best results. Dig a hole that is slightly bigger than the roots of your elderberry shrub, place it into it, backfill with soil around its perimeter, and add all-purpose fertilizer on top of this layer.

Elderberries grow best in soil that ranges between slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH levels. Although planted either full sun or partial shade, elderberries won’t bear fruit if exposed to intense midday sunrays.

When planting elderberry bushes, give them plenty of room to thrive and cross-pollinate. At least 1 meter (3 feet) should be left between rows located four to five meters (13 to 16.8 feet apart).

Once established, elderberry bushes will tolerate many conditions fairly well; however it’s best to avoid overly wet conditions and soils that are too sandy or poor in quality. Furthermore, it’s beneficial to give them some fertilizer as soon as planting occurs and again during early spring for optimal results.

Weeds can be an ongoing concern with elderberry bushes, but they can easily be controlled with shallow cultivation in rows and between plants, along with applying mulch such as straw or sawdust to keep weeds at bay. Regular applications of liquid or granular weed killer are recommended to protect against dandelions and grass-like species such as crabgrass. In addition, testing soil for nematodes before planting elderberry bushes is strongly advised as these pests may cause wilting and other issues related to elderberry plant life cycle issues in elderberry bush plants.


  • Michael Gonzales

    Michael has a diverse set of skills and passions, with a full-time career as an airline pilot and a dedicated focus on health and fitness consulting. He understands the importance of balancing a busy lifestyle with maintaining a healthy mind and body, and is committed to helping others achieve the same success. Michael's expertise in health and fitness is not just limited to physical training, but also extends to nutrition, stress management, and overall wellbeing. He takes a holistic approach to health and fitness, helping clients to achieve their goals in a sustainable and fulfilling way. With a strong desire to inspire and motivate others, Michael is always ready to share his time and knowledge with those who seek his guidance. Whether in the air or on the ground, Michael is dedicated to helping others live their best lives.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-gonzales-07bb4b31/ [email protected] Gonzales Michael


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