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How to Choose the Best Elderberry For Hedge

Michael Gonzales
December 19, 2023

best elderberry for hedge

Elderberries make an excellent choice for hedges because they thrive under shade conditions while providing structure to any landscape. Elderberries can also make great additions to edible, native, pollinator and rain gardens.

Select a cultivar with consistent fruit quality and disease resistance. Elderberries can be propagated using dormant bare root plants or hard wood cuttings taken prior to spring bud break.


Elderberries are relatively straightforward plants to care for, though they do require some attention in order to produce beautiful blooms and delicious fruits. Elderberries can be susceptible to diseases and pests; pruning and spraying will help ensure resistance from pests such as diseases, insect infestations and other problems. When pruned regularly they should form into thick hedges that are easy to manage.

Elderberry shrubs should be pruned in late winter or early spring in order to prepare them for their growing season. Start by cutting away any dead or weak stems. Next, prune away canes that have been present for more than three years so the plant can focus all its energy on new growth and producing an abundant harvest of berries.

If your elderberry variety produces abundant blooms and berries, pruning may not be required each year; rather, use your best judgement based on observations regarding health of plants as well as age of them.

Sambucus can thrive in various soil conditions, although they’re best suited for well-draining sites with rich soil. While no fertilization is necessary for their growth, rain and mulch help control weeds as it provides dense cover from an elderberry shrub.

Plants typically begin producing fruit within their second year of planting. You can harvest the berries for consumption or to use in homemade jellies, jams and syrup recipes. Berries contain one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C among fruits – making them an essential nutritional boost to any diet!

Elderberries as hedges do have one potential drawback – their vigorous nature means that the bushes sucker easily, which could overrun your landscape if not properly managed. To prevent this from happening, keep them under control by cutting back any offshoots as soon as they appear each year and treating for leaf spots, canker or powdery mildew using fungicide treatments on an annual basis.


Elderberries require sunny conditions to thrive, with well-draining soil that’s slightly acidic (pH of 5.5 to 6.5). At planting time, add plenty of organic matter – compost or rotted manure are both excellent choices – then annually apply light fertilizers like granular 10-10-10 or fish emulsion around each plant according to package instructions; excessive nitrogen feeding could significantly limit blooms and fruit production.

If you are planning an elderberry hedge, be sure to choose varieties which are winter hardy in your growing zone. In addition to York and Adams cultivars, European varieties like Black Beauty or Black Lace offer spectacular foliage color, lemony fragrance and abundant harvest of berries. Or opt for variegated cultivars like Scotia or Variegated which feature striking green-white foliage that stands out in landscape settings while providing great property screening benefits.

Elderberry fruit is highly nutritious, boasting abundant levels of antioxidants and vitamin C. It can be enjoyed fresh or dried for making jellies, syrups or wine; its flavonoids and polyphenols content makes it a fantastic source of natural dietary fiber and phytochemicals.

Elderberries are prolific and long-lived plants when regularly pruned. A light harvest should occur the first year and full harvesting in years two or three post planting; York and Adams varieties produce the largest berries among all cultivars.

Elderberries can be affected by various pests such as nematodes, certain weeds and disease; in particular the spotted-wing drosophila is particularly problematic as it deforms fruit leading to reduced quality and deformities. If pest problems become an issue in your garden contact your local extension office for guidance on controlling them in your home garden.

Weed Control

Elderberries are relatively pest-free plants, making them an excellent choice for creating hedgerows. A light crop of berries should appear within one or two years after planting; full yield should arrive two or three years later. Older stems usually produce less fruit and should be removed each autumn in preparation for winter pruning. Powdery mildew may appear during periods of heavy rainfall but is usually minor and temporary in severity or length of time; cane borers may also infest older plants but this problem can usually be quickly solved by pruning off affected canes and then destroying them as soon as possible.

Mulching will reduce weeding needs during establishment. Mulch also helps minimize water loss from soil surfaces. There are various herbicides registered for use with elderberries; using one early spring will greatly decrease annual weed growth throughout the season.

Elderberries are highly valued wildlife plants. Not only can they provide ornamental value, but elderberries are a draw for songbirds such as bluebirds and indigo buntings as well as cedar waxwings and sparrows – not forgetting deer, bear and moose that love eating them raw! However, for optimal consumption elderberries should first be cooked prior to being consumed as some contain trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides that break down into poisonous cyanide when consumed uncooked.

For those interested in cultivating elderberries as hedge plants, several cultivars have been specifically selected for both ornamental qualities and fruit production. Acutiloba features finely-textured foliage while Aurea and Adams both produce bright red fruits.

Elderberry plants make an attractive addition to any landscape while also serving a practical function: controlling aphids and other insect pests. A simple decoction made with dried elderberry leaves is effective against many chewing and sucking insects such as aphids, cabbage worms, cucumber beetles and bean beetles. To create it simply simmer 1 cup of dry elderberry leaves in a pan for 15-20 minutes before straining through two layers of cheesecloth before adding one quart of cool water – providing an effective insecticide solution for any plant in the garden!


Elderberries make excellent hedge plants where mowing is not an issue, as they grow quickly and need only occasional trimming or mow-off to stay in check. Elderberries are versatile enough to serve as borders or edges in butterfly, edible, native pollinator or rain gardens as well as along streams and ponds and naturalized areas as ground covers for erosion control or ground covers for groundcover purposes and erosion control. Elderberries thrive in many soil conditions from sandy to clay with regular amounts of water required to promote fruiting and fruit growth – mulching conserves moisture as well as helps control weeds!

Elderberry shrubs can be susceptible to various pests and diseases, which can generally be managed with regular pruning, fertilization and weed control measures. Elderberries may be susceptible to canker, leaf spot, powdery mildew and other fungal infections; in addition, their fruit contains trace amounts of cyanogenic glycosides which breakdown into cyanide at high temperatures – this means people sensitive to cyanide should refrain from eating ripe fruits from these plants as well as beverages made with these plants.

Numerous cultivars have been developed that offer enhanced berry production, disease resistance and other characteristics, suitable for commercial use. Home gardeners should look out for cultivars such as Acutiloba with its fine texture or Aurea with yellow leaves as the top choices.

Elderberries may not be ideal for formal landscape designs, but they make an eye-catching backdrop in woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Their unruly hedging habit makes them unsuitable for large plantings as it will become overgrown and difficult to manage; their suckering habit makes it more suitable for small hedges where overall size is limited and maintenance needs can easily be managed. For expert advice on growing elderberries in Edmonton visit Salisbury Greenhouse either in Sherwood Park or St Albert and talk with one of their staff who can recommend which varieties would work best with your garden or yard space!


  • 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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