As many of you might already know, I had been searching high and low for an elderberry plant to purchase and have shipped to California (because many will not ship to California for some reason), with not a lot of success. With the help of the Let This Mind Be in You Facebook community, I was able to find a vendor that would ship elderberry plants to me, but with an extra charge of $15 just to let it into the state. A couple of friends and I had planned to order together, but we all decided to try something different before sinking money into plants none of us were confident would acclimate properly to our area. I was also informed through further research that I would need to raise more than one of these plants to be able to successfully get a harvest, which would be more of a gamble. The more I researched, the more I realized that I really didn’t know what I was doing, and thought I’d better start smaller in order to gain my confidence in raising elderberry. One of my aforementioned friends and I decided to purchase some elderberry seeds and try our hand at growing them on our own. My feeling is that if I can get them to germinate, they will automatically be acclimated to our climate, as well as the microclimate of my yard.
In order to be able to germinate the seeds, there is some prep to do before you plant them.
For the seeds that I bought, the instructions are to soak the seeds overnight in cool water before planting.
Before I planted them, I checked the pH level that elderberry plants tend to prefer, and it falls between 5.5 and 6.5, but will tolerate a wide range of acidity, soil texture and fertility. Because elderberries do not do well (germination-wise) in sterile soil, it is recommended to plant outdoors in a shady, moist are of your yard. Because of our western alkaline soil, however, I opted to plant them in containers instead of right into the ground. The soil in our yard tends to range between 7.0-7.5 pH, so I needed to prepare a soil that was closer to the proper pH range. To do that, I mixed 1 part homemade compost to 1 part peat moss, making enough of the mixture to fill 6 10-12” pots.
I added an unmeasured couple of handfuls of azalea food and sulfur (maybe about 4 Tbsp each); the point was to put enough in to bring down the pH to an acceptable level, so I didn’t worry too much about putting just the right amount. Having said that, I would recommend that you study and get to know the products that you are using and follow the instructions on the package for best results. My pH meter wasn’t working well, so I ran a quick soil test of the soil, which yielded the results that my soil mixture was somewhere around 6.0—good enough to proceed.
I filled all 6 of my pots with my soil mixture and brought them to my workspace for planting. With my fingertip, I made 4 shallow indents into the soil in each pot.
I then put two seeds in each small indent and lightly covered them up.
After that, I found a shady place with moist soil underneath. The reason I did this is because I wanted to keep it in a place that would provide as close to the desired conditions as possible, even though they are planted in pots.
Now that they are all planted, I will water them frequently, careful to keep the soil moist until they sprout–but you will need to wait a while for this to happen, it could take months! I will keep you posted!
To read more about planting, growing, and caring for elderberries, click here:
eHow, How to Grow and Elderberry Tree from Seeds
Horizon Herbs, Elderberry, Black (you can view info on the seeds I used and purchase from here)
Cornell University, Elderberries (sambucus, spp.)
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