Elderberry trees make useful and attractive additions to the home landscape. Abundant white flowers cover elderberry from the spring, with dark, red to black berries following pollination. One tree creates as much as 15 pounds of strawberries once it attains maturity. Elderberry shrubs (Sambucus spp.) grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 11, depending on the cultivar. The plants reach up to 20 feet tall and wide. The shrub grows best in partial shade to full sun with well-drained soil.
Eliminate damaged branches or roots off the plant. Cut the elderberry back to about 10 inches. Soak the bare roots in a bucket of water while you prepare the planting site.
Clear the planting site of any grass, weeds and debris. A bed around 3 ft in diameter should suffice for a bare root elderberry. Should you plant more than one, space the shrubs 6 to 10 feet apart.
Test the soil pH level using a kit. Adjust the pH to reach within the range of 5.5 and 6.5. Use agricultural lime to increase the level and elemental sulfur to lower it. Follow the package instructions for the number to use based on your test results and broadcast it over the bed.
Spread a 3- to 4-inch layer of compost over the planting bed. Cultivate the compost and lime or sulfur to the bed to a depth of 12 inches.
Dig a hole deep enough to sit down the elderberry in around its crown. Make the hole wide enough to spread out the roots in. Put the tree from the hole, spreading the roots and adjusting it as your move. Check it sits level and straight.
Backfill the hole a few inches at a time. Tamp down the soil with caution so you don’t damage the roots. Finish backfilling all of the manner, leaving a small berm, or hill, around the root zone to hold water in and direct it.
Water that the elderberry thoroughly. Keep the soil moist the first growing season to assist the roots establish.
Expand a 3-inch layer of wood, pine or bark mulch over the planting bed. Keep the mulch about 6 inches from the base of the plant to avoid introducing any disease or pest problems.