Growing the Elderberry Seed
Elderberry Seed Propagation.
If you choose to plant elderberry seed, the propagation plants from the elderberry seed will not be identical to parent plant. It will however have similar characteristics. If you want elderberry plants with fruit that is predictable ~ a certain size with known average production rates, and want to have a named fruit variety then do not grow elderberry plants from seeds. Elderberry seed propagation is good if you want a cheap way to obtain many elderberry plants, are willing to take the chance that some or all of the plants may not be great producers and are patient enough to wait 2-3 years to find out.
When to Plant Elderberry seeds
Planting elderberry from seed in the spring and expecting plants in the summer will bring disappointment. The seeds need to be planted in the fall, or chilled for 3 months before germination will occur. Elderberry seeds need the coldness of winter or stratification before they will germinate. Germination may not occur until second spring after planting.
Elderberry Seed Propagation ~ Outdoors
Planting outdoors can turnout to be extremely successful or a total bust, depending on weather factors. I have planted seeds for three falls with one year producing many hundreds of tiny elderberry plants and two years producing nothing. What I have learned from my experiences of outdoor elderberry seed planting? Seeds planted outdoors should have protection from animal disturbances Plant seeds in late fall. Cover seeds with 1/4 inch of soil. Mist soil until soil is moist at a two inch depth. Water again if top inch of soil becomes dry before first frost. After frost water again ONLY if very dry periods occur. Watch for sprouting after temperatures remain at or above 68 degrees for 2-3 weeks
Elderberry Seed Propagation ~ Indoors
Spread 1″ of good potting soil in container & spread the seeds out over the flat. Cover with 1/2″ of potting soil, mist, place in a plastic bag.
Refrigerate @ 35 degrees for 3 months. Remove from fridge, leave covered at room temperature and not in direct light, until they sprout. Upon sprouting, remove plastic bag, place under lights, and treat like any other seedling.
The elderberry plants from seed that sprout will not look like elderberry plants and can easily be mistaken for weeds.
The elderberry is classified as a dicotyledon plant, also known as dicots. Dicots have an embryo with two cotyledons, upon sprouting the elderberry plant will have two tiny, flattened, opposing rounded leaves, not the sawtooth edged leaves normally associated with elderberry plants. These first leaves will then be joined by two more opposing leaves emerging from the middle of the first two. The second set of leaves will also look too rounded for an elderberry plant but will develop the familiar sawtooth edges as they grow .