Elderberries Not Fruiting – How To Get Elderberry Fruit

Elderberry Bush
(Image credit: Elenakirey)

No berries on elderberry? This handsome shrub generally produces an abundance of flavorful berries without a lot of effort on your part. There may be a simple explanation if your elderberries have no fruit. 

Read on for a helpful tips and simple fixes that may resolve the problem of elderberries not fruiting. 

Flowers But No Berries On Elderberry: Pollination

If there are plenty of blooms but no berries, the problem is probably lack of pollination. Elderberries are partially self-fruiting, which means they may set fruit, although not in abundance.

To improve pollination, make sure there are at least two elderberry plants located within 50 to 60 feet (15 to18 m.). Two or more shrubs planted in relatively close proximity generally produce a good crop.

Other ways to improve pollination include:

• Avoid use of insecticides. They kill the pests, but they also kill bees and other pollinators. 

• Water the shrub at ground level. Wet foliage may discourage pollinators.

• Plant a diverse variety of bee-friendly plants nearby; native plants are especially beneficial. 

No Berries On Elderberry: How To Get Elderberry Fruit

If elderberries have no blooms and no fruit, the following tips may help:

• Be patient if your plant is young. Elderberries generally don’t produce until they’re at least two or three years old. 

• Is your climate right? Elderberries are generally suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. While the plants are very cold-hardy, they may not thrive south of zone 8.

• Prune elderberry plants in late winter or early spring, while the plant is still dormant. Ideally, choose a time after the danger of a hard freeze has passed, but before new growth emerges.

• A problem with fertilizer may be to blame when elderberries have no fruit. While elderberries need fertilizer (including nitrogen). However, too much high-nitrogen fertilizer can produce a big, lush plant with glorious leaves, but no blooms or fruits. If the plant is healthy and vigorous, cut the high-nitrogen fertilizer by at least half, or skip it entirely. 

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.