About Elderberry Cuttings
Elderberry cuttings should be taken when plants are dormant. Many growers set the date of January 1st as the day to begin taking cuttings, and selling may begin shortly after that and last until spring. Cuttings can be started in a warm greenhouse or indoors in late winter and set out in spring. Some growers plant cuttings directly into winter prepared beds, taking care to keep moisture levels up and the cuttings will root in spring. Cuttings can be held under refrigeration until spring when the cuttings are then placed directly into the ground.
If you know someone with a great elderberry bush already and would like to take some cuttings from their stock, or if you frequently harvest from a specific wild bush that you would like a bit more accessible, taking a cutting from it is like taking a replica of that plant and putting it at your back doorstep.
How to take your own elderberry cuttings
- Always take cuttings from a known cultivar type or if wild, an elderberry plant that is a good producer with uniform ripening.
- Wait until the plant is dormant, January thru bud break is best, if potted up to early your cutting will become rootbound in its pot waiting for spring.
- Look for a branch about pencil size in diameter and find a set of nodules. [two opposing bumps]
- Make your first cut about ½ inch below the bottom set of nodules and at a diagonal, this will let you know later which end is down. It may be obvious to you now, but not so much later.
- Going up from the first set of nodules find the next set and make a straight cut about ½ inch above that.
Cuttings larger than pencil size usually do quite well, cuttings below pencil size tend to have a much lower survival rate. If you are not planting immediately place the cuttings in plastic baggie with moist soil covering the bottom nodules and place in a cool place. You need to simulate winter conditions so that the cutting does not sprout until you are ready.