Growing Elderberries For Making Your Own Elderberry Juice

Growing up on a farm, elderberry juice was something my parents swore to, when it came to fighting viruses such as the flu. So, when I discovered that we had wild elderberry (Sambucus) growing down the street from us, I began dreaming of how I too could grow elderberries and of how I could make elderberry juice to keep my family healthy.

Two years ago we therefore began planting elderberry shrubs at our house. We began by creating a privacy hedge of small native elderberry trees and native loquat trees between us and the neighboring house. This is an area, which gets full sun, and whenever it rains this is where the water runs.

elderberries in bloom

The next summer, we took our hunt for elderberries to another level, as we began searching for wild elderberries all over the neighborhood, and then we began collecting.

We made our own elderberry juice, but because we had very little berries, we decided that the best way to use it would be to freeze it in cubes to add to our fruit smoothies.

After buying The Land, an acre of woodland, just around the corner from us, we began transplanting elderberry plants, and we sure hope next year's harvest will be even bigger. We have about two dozen elderberry shrubs growing in different areas at the land, some were there already, but we have transplanted the majority.

Elderberry shrubs like sunny places, and they especially seem to be living in areas near waterways and wetlands as well as in roadside hedges that at times get wet.

The biggest elderberry project at the land is a small elderberry orchard that we are creating in an area with dabbled sunlight. Our neighborhood is developing fast, and we are trying to transplant as many small elderberry shoots to our land, before the ciounty comes to cut the grass demolishing the shoots, and before the wild areas in our community gets sold for development making the elderberries are lost for good.

The Young Elderberry Orchard

In the photo above, you can see the various stages of transplanted elderberry plants. When you first plant them make sure to water them well for the first two weeks, and then as the roots take, nature will do the rest. Just make sure to water, if you don't get any rain for a while. After a few days the elderberry transplants will look as if they are dying, the leaves will turn brown and fall off, but once the plants set root, they will start getting green again.

Elderberries can grow to 10 - 15 feet under the right conditions, and the tallest elderberry in our elderberry privacy hedge is now 8 - 10 feet, two years after we transplanted them. They are looking fantastic this spring, and we have had several suckers show up. Some of them we've left, and some we've transplanted into other areas of our property.

elderberries in bloom

In January/February one of our sons brought home a nasty virus that lingered, so we began upping our elderberry juice intake. When the Corona Virus arrived in Florida, we began to up our intake of smoothies with elderberry even more so, so much that we ran out.

The elderberries are currently in bloom here in Florida, and we cannot wait to start collecting elderberries for new juice.
Find out how to find wild elderberries. These can be used to make elderberry juice, which is known to fight off viruses and illness. We show you how to find and identify the elderberry shoots, so that you can grow elderberry in your own garden.

How To Grow Elderberry:

  1. It is best to transplant elderberry plants in the spring, but we have been able to do so all year round.
  2. Find a wild elderberry plant - in the spring time look for the white flowers, in summer/fall look for the dark berries
  3. Underneath a large elderberry tree, you will find lots of small trees growing.
  4. Each small elderberry tree is connected to a mother tree through a sucker root, so you'll have to chop it off at the root.
  5. Use gloves, as the branches are toxic and can irritate your skin.
  6. Replant your elderberry plants in full sun to part shade. 
  7. Elderberries prefers growing near water, so make sure they get plenty, or plant them in an area that has a tendency to get soaked. 
  8. If you provide elderberry plants with the right growing conditions, you do not need to fertilize them, although they do enjoy some good organic compost.
  9. Never eat raw elderberries, they have to be cooked a certain way to become edible. 

We recently went scouring for new elderberry plants to plant at The Land, before our town began cutting grass and trees in preparation for storm season. We managed to dig up 10 small elderberry plants, and it was just in time, because the next day the city came by and cut everything down.

We've heard from locals with Native American roots, who say that they also grew up drinking elderberry juice and eating cooked elderberry blooms, and they also mentioned how elderberries were considered a healing plant.

Read all of our Elderberry Articles:

Picking Elderberries

How To Make Elderberry Juice