Transplanting Elderberries – How To Transplant Elderberry Bushes

Elderberry Bush
(Image credit: apugach)

Elderberries never made it into commerce the way that blueberries or raspberries did. The luscious berries are still among the most valued native fruits though. Elderberry plants are attractive and productive, yielding clusters of delicious deep blue berries, perfect for pie and jams.

If you have a poorly sited shrub, it’s time to learn about elderberry transplant. Fortunately, moving an elderberry is not a difficult proposition, as long as you choose the right time of year and pick an appropriate new location. Read on for tips on how to transplant elderberry.

Moving an Elderberry

Native Americans have made use of elderberry plants for thousands of years and they still rely on them today. They used the berries in all the normal ways fruits are used, but also brewed tea from the flowers and included the plant in their herbal medicines.

Anyone finding elderberry shrubs or trees growing on their property is very lucky. Poorly sited plants can be less productive but don’t hesitate to think about transplanting elderberries. These are easy-going shrubs that can be moved quite easily.

Before diving into an elderberry transplant procedure, it’s important to find an appropriate new location for the tree. American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) and its naturalized cousin, European black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) grow to tree size, so you’ll want a site with plenty of room.

When transplanting elderberries, pick a full sun location as the destination site. You’ll get a healthier, hardier plant with more fruit. Elderberries also demand well-draining soil and fail to thrive in clay soils.

How to Transplant Elderberry

Elderberries are deciduous plants that drop their leaves in winter. It is best to transplant them at the very beginning of this dormant period. Transplanting elderberry in fall once the foliage has died back is considered best for the plant’s survival.

If your elderberry is tall, you’ll need to prune it back before transplant in order to make it easier to work with. Cut it to six 6 feet tall (2 m.) or half its current height, whichever is greater. If your plant is small enough for easy handling, cutting back is not required.

Dig around the plant’s roots with a sharp shovel or spade. Transplanting elderberry is easy since its roots are fairly shallow. Set the root ball on a piece of burlap to transport it to the new location. Dig a hole several times the size of the root ball, then fill the bottom with a blend of one part compost and one part extracted soil. Set the root ball in and refill the remainder of the hole, watering well.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.