Growing the Elderberry from Seed

planting elderberry from seed

How to Grow Elderberry from Seed

Elderberry seeds need the coldness of winter, or stratification, before they will germinate. Germination is tricky and plantings will sometimes produces nothing even though the same methods are used from year to year. Elderberry seeds have an extremely hard outer coat. This is a factor contributing to low germination. The most productive method is to mimic Nature's natural conditions of warm stratification for 2-3 months followed by cold stratification for 3 months. Winter weather conditions will play a big part in if a seed planting will be successful.  I have planted seeds several times and some years I get elderberry plants and other years, typically warmer ones with less snowfall here in MO,  I get nothing.

elderberry planted from seed sprouting in Spring

 If you have any animals wandering around your property you should consider seed plot protection from animal disturbances. Cats, dogs, raccoons, armadillos, opossums, and chickens all seem to love scratching in freshly turned soil. Gather seeds after harvest and keep them in a safe place, or just leave outside and protected, until planting time.

When to Plant Elderberry Seeds

Plant seeds in late fall. Cover seeds with 1/4 inch of soil. Mist soil until soil is moist at a two inch depth. Water again if top inch of soil becomes dry before first frost. After frost water again ONLY if very dry periods occur. Watch for sprouting after temperatures remain at or above 68 degrees for 2-3 weeks. Caution, elderberry sprouts do not look like the typical elderberry, be careful not to mistake them for weeds and pull them up.  

elderberry seed sprouts

The very first set of leaves do not have the saw-tooth edges commonly associated with elderberry plants but are smooth and tear dropped as shown in some of the smallest ones in this plot of elderberry seed sprouting.  The leaves develop the saw-tooth as they grow.  

Why you may not be happy with Elderberries Planted from Seed

A cutting from a known elderberry plant will produce an elderberry plant with the same characteristics as the parent plant. An elderberry planted from seed will NOT have the same characteristics as the parent plant. Planting elderberries from seed produces plants that lack consistency. You will end up having plants with berries that are ripe at various times meaning you may pick one ripe cluster today and another cluster tomorrow and again the day after that. You will also likely have many clusters in which the berries do not all ripen at the same time, leaving you to try and pick out green berries before cooking with them. 

Planting elderberries from seed may be the method you want to try if you want a cheap way to obtain many elderberry plants, are willing to take the chance that some or all of the plants may not be great producers and are patient enough to wait 2-3 years to find out.  If time (you may not get them to germinate the first year) and a productive harvest is more important, it may be a much better idea for you to plant your elderberries from the cuttings of a known cultivar. One that has the properties that you desire, such as even ripening, large clusters, sweetness, or disease and pest resistance. 

If you decide to grow your elderberries from seed do make sure to take your seeds from an exceptional elderberry plant, this should increase your chances of growing better elderberry plants from a seed. 



★ Reviews

What others say

27 reviews
Great product and awesome service

This is the 2nd time I've ordered from Elderberry Edge.
Recently ordered berries and 3 days later received them in the mail. I appreciated the cotton bags as well. The berries are of very good quality and no stems. Shannon has been outstanding with her customer service! Will always order my berries to make syrup from Elderberry Edge Farm!

Excellent Service and Product

This is the second tome I have ordered from Elderberry Edge Farm. I have nothing but praise for both experiences. The dried elderberries were excellent quality and the shipping was fast. I'll be ordering more from Elderberry Edge Farm. FIVE STARS

Excellent product

I was very impressed with the reasonable prices, fast shipping and quality of the products I purchased. I made my first batch of elderberry syrup using the recipe that was enclosed. It is fantastic! I will definitely purchase again and continue to use Grandma’s recipe!

Great tasting tea!!

I love this tea with a little bit of honey.

Not so sure

I don't think I would re-order this tea. It just wasn't "my cup of tea." The flavoring used with the elderberries isn't what I am looking for in a tea. I like a tea that is mild and soothing. Maybe it is the little bite or kick that I don't like.
But I also say that coffee is my first go to and if I drink tea, it is usually a mild herbal decaf tea.