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How to Choose the Best Elderberry Cultivars in South Texas

Michael Gonzales
December 16, 2023

Many gardeners find themselves perplexed about which elderberry varieties to plant. Most elderberries available for home gardens are cultivars rather than varieties, meaning they don’t reliably reproduce from seed.

Many herbalists recommend Sambucus nigra as a medicinal plant, however this variety doesn’t thrive well in North America. Instead, consider purchasing Sambucus canadensis instead.


Johns’ is an American elderberry cultivar that produces large fruit clusters, making it more productive than its European counterparts and considered tastier as well. Growing in full sun to partial shade conditions with well-draining soil requires for optimal results; self-pollinating but will perform best when planted alongside another cultivar for increased pollination; fast-growing plant reaching 10 feet at maturity that makes an excellent ornamental shrub choice or can even be used to produce elderberry syrup and wine!

Elderberries don’t require much pruning in order to remain healthy and maintain their shape, yet regular trimming is still necessary in order to remove dead branches and promote new growth. Furthermore, it’s wise to clear away debris before beginning your pruning task so as to reduce disease or insect infestation risks.

Elderberries should be pruned in late winter, prior to their plants beginning their annual cycle of growth. This allows their buds to set for spring. Pruning can take three forms: by cutting away dead branches or trimming back height, or cutting right down to ground level – while cutting during summer will produce far fewer fruits than later on in the season.

Elderberry cultivars can be found at your local nursery or online. Some varieties come as bare roots while others can be purchased as seedlings or cuttings; some are grown true-to-type from seed while others are hybridized in greenhouses to meet specific production requirements. It may be beneficial to experiment with multiple elderberry types in your garden as their performance will differ based on climate and weather conditions; furthermore, planting multiple types close together has been reported as increasing yields.


In springtime, this cultivar boasts huge clusters of white flowers that quickly develop into bountiful bunches of deep purple-to-near black berries. Easy to care for and fast growing in most conditions, they’re an excellent edible landscape choice that attract hummingbirds and bees as well as being drought tolerant once established – the ‘Nova’ cultivar can reach eight feet tall and wide while being cold-hardy from zones 3-9.

Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’, another black elderberry cultivar, offers another option. With beautiful, light pink fragrant flowers that are more ornamental than other varieties and dense dark purple berries that produce well in landscape settings – though less productive than canadensis cultivars; additional companion plants may help enhance pollination efficiency.

Other options include the Ranch, Black Lace and Bob Gordon cultivars. Black Lace is popularly recognized for its powdery-blue berries that some mistake for blueberries; additionally it produces more fruit than other cultivars and has sweeter flavor than many. Unfortunately, growing this particular cultivar in some climates may prove challenging so make sure that there is enough sun.

Growers often favor Ranch Elderberry because of its compact form and zone four to eight growth range. Furthermore, it tolerates dry sandy soils better than other cultivars; its leaves are light green with feathery veins; producing large flowerheads and clusters up to 6-8 feet tall and wide – ideal conditions for cultivation!

“York” is another popular cultivar, growing to six to eight feet tall and wide. One of the more widely available varieties, this cultivar is often preferred by those making elderberry wine and can even produce fruits later than most cultivars–an advantage for northern dwellers!


“York” elderberry cultivar is an exceptionally hardy and fast-growing cultivar that produces large clusters of dark purple berries. Ideal for medicinal syrups, wines and jams production as well as ornamental purposes with its light green leaves and five petalled compound flowers with five leaves each; suitable for USDA zones four through nine with its fruit popular among birds after first frost of each season; suitable as ornamental plant for garden beds as an ornamental feature.

Some elderberry plants, such as Johns, Nova, Wyldewood and Bob Gordon varieties are hybrids between Sambucus canadensis and Sambucus cerulea which originate in western North America. There has been less research conducted on cerulea cultivars but these reportedly offer greater flavorful results with faster growing habits than canadensis varieties.

Nature Hills Nursery offers two to three-foot bare root or 3-gallon container versions of the York elderberry for easy cultivation and gardening, yet suckering remains an issue when planting it as part of formal gardens or foundations; its suckering habit would make a better choice in an informal rain garden setting, drainage swale or stormwater management feature.

“York” cultivars of elderberry can be self-fruitful, but planting multiples together in groups of two or more can increase yields and extend the ripening window for flowers and berries. Furthermore, having multiple elderberry varieties within 50 feet of one another encourages cross pollination between plants to maximize fruit production; furthermore it may also prove advantageous as different cultivars perform differently in various climates.


Elderberries are an exceptionally nutritious and delicious fruit packed with antioxidants, making it perfect for medicinal or culinary use. With antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties as well as being native to Eastern Texas’ wild areas such as roadsides or abandoned homesteads, elderberries have quickly become an increasingly sought-after food product – something farmers are taking advantage of by planting elderberry crops diversifying their crop portfolio and adding more value to food processing industries.

when selecting an elderberry cultivar, it is essential to take your growing zone, space availability and desired characteristics into account. The ideal elderberry cultivars will feature traits tailored specifically for your climate so it is recommended to select one designed specifically for it.

The Wyldewood is a new introduction with large flower heads, producing twice as many berries than other varieties and boasting lemony fragrance and hardiness. Furthermore, this fast-growing plant makes an excellent addition for areas requiring fast growth plants.

Pocahontas cultivar is another cultivar worth keeping an eye out for, with large flower cymes and berry heads that produce up to 12 pounds of fruit per bush. Drought-resistant and tolerant of poor soil conditions, Pocahontas makes an excellent option in areas with both hot summers and cold winters due to its low-branching growth habit, making it less vulnerable to damage from wind or snow.


If you’re searching for elderberry plants, visit your local nursery. They should offer several varieties including Sambucus cerulea and Sambucus canadensis; ask for advice about which varieties will flourish best in your climate to increase chances of a successful harvest.

Adams elderberry cultivar is an extremely hardy variety with an outstanding fruit crop, easily adaptable to zones 3-8 and known for producing larger berries than other elderberries varieties. Resistant to disease and drought, as well as sun exposure requirements for optimal fruit production. Like other elderberries varieties, Adams must be planted in well-drained soil containing plenty of organic matter as it needs full sun. Furthermore, mulch should be added around its base in order to keep weeds at bay and stop it choking out other shrubs in its garden environment.

“Ranch” elderberry cultivar can be found at many nurseries. Many commercial growers recommend this cultivar due to its wide tolerance of conditions and poor soil, as well as being ideal for northern climates. A trial at the University of Missouri proved this cultivar outperformed other canadensis types when measured for yield and berry size.

At Nature Hills Nursery and Burpee, you’ll find both Ranch and Adams bare root plants in 3″ containers for purchase. While both these varieties are self fertile, you can increase their yields further by planting with different cultivars to increase cross pollination and boost yields.


  • 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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