How many is enough elderberry plants?
Elderberry plants are hardy perennials that bear a small harvest after the second year of planting and are fully mature and have a 10-12 pound harvest average by the third year. Elderberry plants are typically started from cuttings taken during the elderberry dormant season (winter). **The following averages are based on the New Elderberry cultivars from the – Missouri Elderberry Development Project, old cultivar averages and wild elderberries are lower.
Before you begin planting you should have some kind of idea how many plants you want or need. To few, and you will be outsourcing your elderberry needs, to many plants and you might have more berries than you can handle. The amount of elderberry plants needed is of course relative to your elderberry usage, plant age and other growing factors. However we can generalize and get to a really good figure that is close to perfect. Start by figuring your elderberry use expectations for one person and after you have that number, multiple by the people in your household.
Elderberry Harvest Averages
Average harvest from a mature elderberry is 10-12 pounds of berries per bush, but only after it is a mature and well established elderberry plant....3-4 years, so don’t expect this immediately.
How much Syrup will one Elderberry Plant make?
To make one 8oz bottle of elderberry syrup you will need 1 pound of elderberries. If you plan on taking 1 Tablespoon every other day an 8 oz bottle will last you one month (16 Tablespoons) To have one 8 oz bottles per month per person you will need 12 pounds of elderberries. Using the high end average estimate of 12 pounds per bush you will need one elderberry plant per person to satisfy this desire. Four people in your family= 4 elderberry plants
How much Jelly will one Elderberry Plant make?
If you would also like some elderberry jelly, it will take 3 pounds to make 6 one half pints of elderberry jelly. One elderberry plant with a 12 pound harvest expectation will make 24 half pints of elderberry jelly. Four people in your family consuming 2 half pints a month is 24 half pints or 1 elderberry plant.
Other elderberry goodies
Also consider if you will be wanting to make other things from your elderberries. Some options are elderberry pies, wine, gummies, tinctures, or elderberry shrub, (a very delicious shelf stable drinking vinegar the pioneers used before refrigeration to preserve fruits). None of these take a huge amount of elderberries to make, except for the wine, but if you think you might want to make some of these do throw in a bush or two to make sure your harvest is enough. For one batch of elderberry wine consider planting an extra 2 plants.
Family of four taking elderberry syrup every other day one bush per person --- 4 plants
24 half pints of elderberry jelly for family --- 1 plant
Extra things made --- 2 plants
Insurance plants to cover low harvest years or plant death --- 3 plants
10 plants total
Adjust this figure to meet your expectations but this will give you a general idea how many you want to grow.
You can buy plants from a nursery during the spring but many still do not carry them and ones that do may be the old varieties and at premium prices. ($12.99 and up plus shipping) To economically grow elderberries consider starting your own plants from cuttings. Elderberries are extremely hardy, so it is easy to start plants from cuttings.
Elderberry cuttings are only sold during the dormant season. Sales from elderberry farms typically begin in January and have been selling out before March. To see the supplies Elderberry Edge Farm still has on hand check our Farm Store.