How many elderberry plants do I need?
The quick answer is a family of four would do great with 12 elderberry plants but could get by with 5-6. Read on to learn how I came up with that figure and if that number of elderberry plants is right for you.
Elderberry Harvest Averages
Elderberry plants are hardy perennials that bear a small harvest after the second year of planting and are fully mature and have a 5-7 pound harvest by the third year. Elderberry plants are typically started from cuttings taken during the elderberry dormant season (winter), or young plants are purchased in the spring.
**The above elderberry harvest averages are based on the New Elderberry cultivars from the – Missouri Elderberry Development Project, most notably Bob Gordon, old cultivar elderberry harvest averages and wild elderberry harvest averages are lower.
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 out your elderberry use expectations for one person and after you have that number, it can be multiplied by the people in your household.
How many plants do I need to make elderberry syrup?
Using Grandma's syrup recipe or a honey syrup recipe such as these, you will need one pound of elderberry to make an 8oz bottle of elderberry syrup. If you plan on taking 1 Tablespoon every other day an 8 oz bottle will last you one month (16 Tablespoons) For 12 bottles a year you will need 12 pounds of elderberries. With a 6 pound elderberry harvest average per bush, you will need two elderberry plants per person to satisfy your syrup needs.
How many elderberry plants do I need to make jelly?If you would also like some elderberry jelly, it takes 3 pounds to make 6 one half pints of elderberry jelly. An elderberry plant with a 6 pound harvest expectation will make 12 half pints of elderberry jelly.
Want to make elderberry syrup and elderberry jelly? A good harvest year with 3 mature elderberry bushes should give you 12 1/2 pints of elderberry jelly and a dozen 8 oz bottles of elderberry syrup.
Other elderberry goodies
Also consider if you will be wanting to make other things from your elderberries. Some options are elderberry pies, elderberry wine jelly, gummies, tinctures, or elderberry shrub, (a surprisingly delicious shelf stable drinking vinegar the pioneers used before refrigeration to preserve fruit). 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 extra to make sure your harvest is enough. For one large batch of elderberry wine, consider planting an extra 2 plants.
For a family of four taking elderberry syrup every other day, two bushes per person --- 8 plants
12 half pints of elderberry jelly for family --1 plant
Insurance plants to cover low harvest years or making extra goodies --- 3 plants
Total Elderberry Plants to Plant= 12
Adjust this figure to meet your expectations but this will give you a general idea of how many elderberry plants you may want to grow.