Growing Elderberry From Cuttings: Creating Medicinal Abundance on the Homestead

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Are you ready to unlock the secrets of growing elderberry from cuttings? Imagine having a flourishing garden filled with vibrant elderberry bushes, ready to provide you with a host of benefits. In this article, we will dive deep into the techniques and methods for successfully propagating elderberry from cuttings. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to the world of plants, this guide is designed to help you harness the power of elderberry propagation. From understanding the advantages of growing elderberry from cuttings to expert tips for rooting and planting, we’ve got you covered. So, get ready to embark on an exciting elderberry journey and discover how you can enjoy the rewards of growing your own bushes.

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Advantages of Growing Elderberry from Cuttings

Although elderberry can be grown from both cuttings and seed, there are several reasons why extending your crop through cuttings is the superior option.

Quick & Easy

One of the major advantages of growing elderberry from cuttings is the ability to quickly and easily propagate multiple plants. Furthermore, growing elderberry from cuttings allows you to skip the lengthy and uncertain process of starting from seeds. Elderberry seeds can take several years to germinate and establish into productive plants. By using cuttings, you can bypass this waiting period and enjoy the benefits of elderberry bushes much sooner.

Genetically Identifcal

By taking cuttings from a healthy, established elderberry bush, you can create new plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant. This means that you can reproduce the desirable traits of the parent plant, such as fruit quality, disease resistance, and overall vigor.

Way Cheaper

In addition, growing elderberry from cuttings can be a cost-effective option. Instead of purchasing new plants, you can simply take cuttings from existing ones. This not only saves you money but also gives you the opportunity to expand your elderberry garden without having to rely on external sources.


Help Out Plants

Another advantage of growing elderberry from cuttings is the ability to rejuvenate older plants. As elderberry bushes age, their productivity may decline. By taking cuttings and starting new plants, you can revitalize the original bush and increase its overall yield. This method also allows you to replace any old or diseased plants with fresh, healthy ones.

Higher Success

Moreover, growing elderberry from cuttings offers a higher success rate compared to other propagation methods. Cuttings taken from the current season’s growth, known as softwood cuttings, tend to root quickly and easily. This means that you can have a higher likelihood of success when propagating elderberry from cuttings, especially if you follow the proper techniques and provide the necessary care.

Overall, the advantages of growing elderberry from cuttings are numerous. From saving time and money to preserving desirable traits and rejuvenating older plants, this method allows you to unlock the secrets of elderberry propagation with ease. In the next section, we will explore the different methods of taking cuttings, specifically focusing on the choice between softwood and hardwood cuttings.,

grow elderberry from cutting

Soft Wood vs Hard Wood: Which Method is Right for You?

When it comes to growing elderberry from cuttings, understanding the differences between softwood and hardwood cuttings is essential to determine which method is right for you. Softwood cuttings are taken from the current season’s growth, while hardwood cuttings are taken from older, more mature wood. Each method has its unique advantages and considerations that can affect the success rate of your propagation efforts.


Softwood cuttings, as the name suggests, come from the soft, flexible stems of the elderberry plant. Softwood can be bent without breaking and will have more of a greenish color. These are the stems that just started growing and have no yet matured. These are typically taken during the late spring or early summer. Softwood cuttings tend to root quickly and easily, making them a popular choice for many gardeners. If you’re looking for a higher likelihood of success in propagating elderberry, softwood cuttings are the way to go.


On the other hand, hardwood cuttings are harvested from the older, more rigid wood of the plant. You’ll want to select stems that are pencil-thick during the late fall or winter. While they may take longer to root compared to softwood cuttings, hardwood cuttings have their own set of advantages. They are generally more resilient and have a higher chance of surviving harsh weather conditions. Additionally, hardwood cuttings are often used for specific purposes like breeding new varieties or preserving desirable traits.

Choosing between softwood and hardwood cuttings depends on your specific goals and circumstances. If time is a consideration and you want a quicker establishment of new plants, softwood cuttings are the ideal choice. However, if you are looking to preserve specific characteristics or you live in an area with harsh weather conditions, hardwood cuttings may be a better option.

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Propagating Elderberry With Softwood Cuttings

Propagating through softwood cuttings is a popular and effective method to reproduce many types of plants, including elderberries. Softwood cuttings are taken from the young, actively growing stems of a plant during the spring or early summer when the plant is in its growth phase.

Select the Right Time

The best time to take softwood cuttings is in late spring to early summer when the plant is actively growing. Look for young shoots that are healthy, free from pests and diseases, and have not yet produced flowers or berries.

rooting elderberry cuttings

Prepare the Cuttings

Using clean and sharp pruning shears or a knife, take cuttings that are approximately 4-6 inches long. Make sure to cut just below a leaf node, which is the area where leaves emerge from the stem. The cuttings should be taken from the tips of the branches, as these are the portions with the highest chances of successful rooting.

Remove Lower Leaves

Strip off the lower leaves from the lower two-thirds of the cutting, leaving only a few leaves on the tip. Removing the lower leaves reduces water loss and helps the cutting direct its energy towards root development.

Optional Boost

Although not always necessary, some gardeners choose to use a rooting hormone powder, which contains a plant hormone called auxin. This hormone helps stimulate root growth and can increase the success rate of rooting.

Planting the Cuttings

Insert the prepared elderberry cuttings into a well-draining rooting medium. You can use a mix of perlite, vermiculite, sand, or a combination of these materials. The rooting medium should be moist but not waterlogged. Make a hole in the rooting medium using a pencil or stick before inserting the cutting to avoid scraping off the rooting hormone.

Provide Proper Care

Place the planted cuttings in a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause excessive drying of the cuttings. To maintain the required humidity, cover the cuttings with a clear plastic bag or place them in a propagator. This creates a mini greenhouse effect, which helps retain moisture and promotes rooting.

Monitor and Water

Check the cuttings regularly to ensure the rooting medium stays consistently moist. Mist the cuttings with water when needed to maintain humidity. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rotting.


After several weeks (usually 4-8 weeks), gently tug on the cuttings to check for resistance, indicating that roots have developed. Once the cuttings have established a healthy root system, they are ready for transplantation into individual pots or their final planting location outdoors.

elderberry hardwood cuttings

Propagating elderberries through softwood cuttings can be a rewarding and efficient way to expand your garden or share plants with others. By following these steps and providing the right care, you can enjoy healthy new elderberry plants that will eventually yield tasty and nutritious berries.

Propagating Elderberry With Hardwood Cuttings

Propagating elderberries through hardwood cuttings is another effective method to reproduce these plants during their dormant season. Hardwood cuttings are taken from mature, woody stems during late fall or winter when the plant is not actively growing. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to propagate elderberries using hardwood cuttings:

Select the Right Time

The best time to take hardwood cuttings is when the elderberry plant is dormant, usually from late fall to winter. The plant has shed its leaves, and the stems have matured and hardened.

Prepare the Cuttings

Choose pencil-thick, mature stems from the current year’s growth for the cuttings. Make straight cuts at the base of the stem just below a node (the area where leaves or buds emerge) and another slanted cut above a node to distinguish the top from the bottom of the cutting. Each cutting should be about 8-12 inches long.

Optional Soak

Some gardeners recommend soaking the hardwood cuttings in water for a few hours before planting. This helps hydrate the stems and prepare them for planting.

Planting the Cuttings

elderberry from cuttings

Prepare a container or a trench outdoors for planting the elderberry cuttings. The container should be large enough to accommodate the cuttings, or the trench should be deep enough to bury about two-thirds of the cuttings vertically. Fill the container or trench with a mix of sand and compost to improve drainage and provide some nutrients.

Insert the Cuttings

Place the elderberry cuttings into the container or trench, burying the bottom two-thirds of each cutting in the soil mixture. The top third of the cutting should remain above the soil line.


If you are using a container, place it in a protected area outdoors, like against a building or a fence. Make sure it is in a spot that receives some sunlight but is shielded from harsh winds. Water the cuttings occasionally to keep the soil from completely drying out.


In the spring, when the weather starts to warm up, check the cuttings for signs of new growth. Once the cuttings have started to produce new leaves or shoots, they are ready to be transplanted into their final planting location. Gently remove the rooted cuttings from the container or trench and plant them in their desired spot in the garden.

Provide Proper Care

After transplanting, make sure to water the newly planted elderberry cuttings regularly, especially during dry periods. Applying a layer of mulch around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weeds. As the plants continue to grow, they will require less care and will establish themselves as healthy elderberry shrubs.

Propagating elderberries through hardwood cuttings can be a successful and economical way to grow new plants. By following these steps and providing the right care, you can expand your elderberry patch and enjoy a bountiful harvest of berries in the future.

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Tips and Tricks for Rooting Elderberry Cuttings


One key tip is to always choose healthy, disease-free branches for your cuttings. Look for strong, vibrant shoots with no signs of pests or diseases. This will give your cuttings the best chance of survival and growth.


Another important aspect to consider is the length of the cutting. Aim for cuttings that are around 12-18 inches long, as this length provides a good balance of stem and root development. Avoid using shorter or longer cuttings, as they may not root as successfully.


Before planting your cuttings, it’s a good idea to remove any leaves from the lower half of the stem. This will help prevent excessive moisture loss and allow the cutting to focus its energy on root development. However, be careful not to remove all the leaves, as they play a vital role in providing the cutting with energy through photosynthesis.

planting elderberry cuttings


To improve the chances of rooting success, many experienced gardeners recommend treating the cuttings with a rooting hormone. This hormone stimulates root growth and can greatly increase the chances of successful rooting. Follow the product instructions carefully when applying the rooting hormone to ensure the best results.

Willow Water

To enhance rooting success, consider using willow water—a natural rooting hormone. Willow trees contain indolebutyric acid, which promotes root growth. To make willow water, collect a few willow branches, cut them into small pieces, and soak them in water for 24-48 hours. Use this infused water to dip your elderberry cuttings before planting.

The Proper Way to Plant Elderberry Cuttings

The proper way to plant elderberry cuttings is a critical step in ensuring their long-term success. After you have prepared your cuttings following the expert tips and tricks for rooting elderberry cuttings, it’s time to carefully transfer them into the soil.


Begin by selecting a suitable location for your elderberry plants. Elderberries thrive in full sun or partial shade, so choose a spot in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. It’s also essential to consider the soil conditions. Elderberries prefer well-draining soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5. If your soil is heavy clay or sandy, consider adding organic matter such as compost to improve its texture and fertility.


Before planting, make sure to dig a hole that is large enough to accommodate the root system of the elderberry cutting. A good rule of thumb is to make the hole twice as wide and just as deep as the roots. This will provide enough room for the roots to spread out and establish themselves.

Gently place the cutting into the hole, ensuring that the root system is fully covered with soil. Be careful not to bury the cutting too deep as it may suffocate the roots. Ideally, the topmost bud should be just above the soil level. If needed, you can prop up the cutting with some stakes to keep it upright.

Once the cutting is in place, carefully backfill the hole with soil, making sure to eliminate any air pockets. Lightly firm the soil around the cutting, but avoid compacting it too much as this can hinder root growth. After planting, it’s essential to water the cuttings thoroughly to settle the soil and provide moisture to the roots.


To create an environment that promotes root development, remember to mist the cuttings regularly. This will help maintain a humid atmosphere around the cuttings, encouraging the growth of healthy roots. It’s crucial to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, ensuring a balance between hydration and drainage.

With the proper care and attention, your elderberry cuttings will soon take root and embark on their journey towards becoming productive elderberry plants.

elderberry softwood cuttings


Growing elderberry from cuttings offers numerous advantages, making it a worthwhile and economical way to propagate this valuable plant. By understanding the distinctions between soft and hard wood, knowing the optimal timing for taking cuttings, and implementing expert tips for rooting and planting, you can unlock the full potential of elderberry propagation. Now is the time to embark on your elderberry journey and reap the abundant benefits it provides. Don’t let this opportunity slip away – take action today and start cultivating your very own elderberry bushes.

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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