Elderberry Hardwood Cuttings
- As long as the cuttings are kept cold and slightly moist they will remain dormant (45 or below) don’t expect sprouting until you warm them up inside. If cuttings are outside they will not sprout until it warms up outside.
- Rooting hormone has proven to be unnecessary for elderberry cuttings and tests have shown it does not improve success rate.
- Keeping tops moist with covering of plastic has not shown to improve success with hardwood cuttings.
- Even after setting out the moisture level needs to be monitored closely, they don’t need a lot but the new roots are small and can not stretch out far to find more moisture.
- Warm soil promotes faster growth to an extent, but be careful of cooking them or drying soil out.
- Expect hardwood elderberry cutting survival rate to be about 70%.
Here are 4 methods of encouraging your stick to become a well rooted elderberry plant.
1) Elderberry Hardwood Cutting in Water
Place the hardwood elderberry cutting into an individual container with water submerging only the bottom part of the cutting, place in sunny warm indoor location. When roots have developed transition them to soil pots. After they have adapted to this and if the last average frost date has passed, and the soil is warmed, transplant to their permanent home outside.
- Pro’s and Con’s in no particular order are:
Easily visible growth or non growth. Roots developed in water are very fragile. May take up much indoor space. Water must be changed occasionally, disturbing fragile roots. Can be transplant directly to permanent home from water but expect lower survival percentage. Transition from water to soil can be very stressful with mortality rates. ‘Water roots’ are not the same as ‘soil roots’ and the plant will need to develop soil roots upon moving.
2) Elderberry Hardwood Cutting in Pots
Place each hardwood elderberry cutting into a 4 inch pot with moistened potting soil. Place in an indoor sunny warm location. When roots have developed, last average frost date has passed, and the soil is warmed, harden off and transplant elderberry plant to permanent home.
- Pro’s / Con’s in no particular order.
Survival rate average. Minimal transplant stress as long as pot dirt is moved intact. Must evaluate and meet water requirements regularly. Bottom heat of 65 degrees can increases survival rate May take up much indoor space.
3) Elderberry Hardwood Cutting Directly into Permanent Home.
After acquiring hardwood elderberry cuttings dig a small hole where you want the elderberry to grow, water to set soil. This method allows mother nature and the weather to ‘wake’ the stick from dormancy when the conditions become right for it to grow.
- Pro’s and con’s:
Even with an average survival rate you will end up with empty spots in a row or a planting area. Cuttings will never subjected to stress of transplanting. Growth rate will be behind indoor starting methods (but will even out long before berry time.) Least amount of effort and time for results that you will get.
4) Elderberry Hardwood Cutting in Sand.
Make a sand box outside 8-10 inches deep, moisten sand and place elderberry hardwood cuttings 6 inches apart upright in sand. Alternatively you can make a sand pit 6-7 inches deep. Planting is done as soon as you acquire the cuttings while it is probably still cold outside. Mother Nature will wake these plants up when it is time for them to grow, as long as you keep sand moist they will do fine.
- Pro’s and Con’s:
Minimal effort Easy transplanting from sand. Must be moved in a timely manner as sand is not nutrient rich. No empty spots in rows or planting area’s. Easily disturbed by animals.
These are not the only ways to propagate hardwood cutting and by all means with logic you can come up with your own way. How about a tub of sand inside until they root and it warms up enough to move them outside?
Interested in trying your hand a growing elderberry cuttings? I sell hardwood cuttings seasonally. Check back in January-April to view my shop on this website and order a bundle or two. Let me know your experiences, successes, and failures in the comments section, sharing expands the elderberry knowledge base!
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