Elderberry bush


How to prune and still have blooms next season?
It is about 4 years old only bloomed this spring. There were no fruit, only blooms.
It gets sun. It is crowding out other plants.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about your elderberry bush (Sambucus canadensis). It takes a few years for an elderberry to become really productive. While all elderberry cultivars are considered to be partially self fruit-fruitful (meaning that they don’t require cross-pollination from another elderberry), planting at least two will increase cross-pollination and fruit set, leading to higher yields. Elderberries are wind-pollinated and should therefore be planted no more than 50-60 feet apart.

Proper pruning will also increase the fruit production of elderberry. Two year old canes are the most productive. Elderberry should be pruned annually in late winter to early spring (during dormancy). All dead, broken and weak canes should be removed at ground level. Older canes (more than three years old) should also be removed since they are no longer productive. This will encourage the growth of new, more fruitful canes. You can leave roughly equal numbers of one, two and three year old canes intact.

Elderberry is a fairly large shrub, growing to 5-12 feet in height and diameter. Pruning will help to manage its size. It spreads through root suckers which should be pruned out in late winter, unless you want your bush to naturalize over a large area. Fruit production will be best with a full sun site although elderberry will tolerate partial shade.

Best wishes for future bountiful harvests of elderberries!