A wonderful plant which grows beautifully both in the wild and in the garden, the Elderberry produces delectable fruit and sweet flowers. Used to make unique wines, sweet jams and delicious pies, while also used as a natural antidote to the flu virus, the Elderberry is so much more than your average fruit.
You can add an Elderberry tree to your South African home or garden when you buy your plant from Just Berry Plants. And our knowledgeable team can assist you with your new addition, by sharing helpful information.
When grown in South Africa, the Elderberry tree can be used as a thick hedge, for landscaping, to attract wildlife, or to simply produce delicious fruit. The tree is fairly easy to grow and it doesn’t need much attention once it is planted. By the time it has completely grown, it can reach a height of 6 meters. Many varieties are capable of self-pollinating, but a better quality fruit can be grown if the tree is allowed to pollinate.
Growing the Elderberry
The plant tends to enjoy full sunlight, but depending on the region of South Africa in which it is grown, full sun might just prove to be a little too harsh. Luckily, the Elderberry is quite tolerant of shaded areas. Ideally, the soil pH should be between 5.5 and 6.5 and a loamy to sandy soil is preferable. The Elderberry grows best in a moist yet well-drained soil.
The plants should be spaced about a meter apart and there should be around 4 -5 meters between the rows. If it is to be planted in a home garden, it can be placed just about anywhere.
It will grow in a shrub like cluster of stems which resembles a tree once it reaches its full height. Some varieties have smaller stems, or single stems, while others are thicker which is what gives the plant its tree like appearance. The Elderberry wastes no time growing which is exactly why it is such a popular plant for creating hedgerows.
An interesting, and most welcome, fact about these plants is that they can grow runners. This is ideal if you are planning on farming the berry. The downside of the plant is that it can take between 2 to 3 years for the Elderberry to begin producing fruit.
Both the Elderberry flowers and berries can be consumed. It is incredibly important to only harvest the blooms or the berries at the right time, as there are a few unpleasant side effects which can be experienced should either of these be consumed at the wrong time. When harvested before they are fully mature, the berry may cause nausea when consumed.
The flowers grow in a cluster, and once the full cluster has fully bloomed (or fully opened), the time is right to harvest them. When it comes to harvesting, it’s as simple as cutting off this cluster.
The berries are ready to be harvested once they turn a dark purple or black. They should also be slightly soft. The berries will grow in a large cluster, known as an umbrella, and they can be harvested stem by stem when the berries have ripened. Any immature berries should be removed once harvested. A helpful tip from those who have grown berries in the past is to not cut the stems too short, making it easy to carry what might otherwise be quite a heavy bundle.
If you are looking to add an Elderberry to your garden or farm, have a look at our wonderful selection of trees. Our team can assist you in finding that perfect plant and we’ll give you great information about how to grow and take care of your new berry plant.