Propagation of Elderberry
The propagation of an elderberry plant will give known quality elderberry plants. Propagating elderberry cuttings will retain the parent plant characteristics. The known qualities of the parent allow the production rate, disease/pest resistance and the berry quality to be known in advance of your crop. The rate of survival of cuttings is dependent on many factors both known and unknown. A guideline to follow is a success rate of 90% of hardwood elderberry cuttings, 95% of root cuttings, and 50% of softwood.
Propagating Elderberry Cuttings from Hardwood
Propagating elderberry hardwood cuttings tend to have a better survival rate than softwood elderberry cuttings. Make hardwood cuttings in the winter when the plant is dormant. Find elderberry wood that is pencil size diameter or larger. Larger than pencil size usually have a higher success rate. Make a diagonal cut just below two nodes. About six inches above that make a second straight cut above two additional nodes. Your cutting should have a total of four nodes on it. The diagonal cut on the bottom makes it to easily tell later which end goes down when planting. The cutting should be about six to eight long to give the stick enough reserve energy to produce leaves and roots.
The bottom set of nodes only are placed in water or a rooting medium in order to develop roots. The bottom nodes will develop into roots and the top will develop into leaves. Propagating elderberry from hardwood cuttings are usually placed into the ground in the spring. These elderberry cuttings will not produce berries until the following summer. This second summer the elderberry plants from cuttings will only produce a minor crop however the third year they are truly mature plants and will start producing at their peak. For more detailed information on hardwood cuttings view my article on 4 ways to Grow Hardwood Cuttings.
Propagating Elderberry Cuttings from Softwood
Take many more cuttings than you want plants, as many find the survival rate of softwood cuttings to be low. However for some, this may be due to the timing of the cutting. For the best survival rate of elderberry softwood cutting take the cutting in early spring when new growth is slowing down but before flowering begins. Remove a stem from the plant with a sharp clean tool taking care to obtain a bottom set of nodes. Remove most of leaves leaving only a few on top. Place this elderberry cutting into water or a rooting medium until roots have developed.
Propagating Elderberry from Root Cuttings
This propagation method is not used often so there is not much information on how and if it works. Currently I have done this with good success. I take a cutting about 4-6 inches long and about pencil size in diameter and place this vertically in a soil medium, water and place pot in a sunny warm location. The plant that emerges is very hardy.