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Resources for Elderberry Growers

Elderberry Stained Hands

At River Hills Harvest, we are committed to educating farmers...

Missouri is currently the top producing state of American elderberry, Sambucus canadensis.   We want to expand the market for American elderberries and continue to grow more successful farms and healthier communities.

  • We host workshops and give presentations throughout the country ranging in subjects from elderberry growing, processing for food and product development.

  • We have a number of articles and links below that contain information for commercial and home growers.

  • We regularly attend, speak and give demonstrations at conferences across the country, such as Mother Earth News Fairs, Ozarks Homesteading Expos, MOSES (now Marbleseed) and more.

We aren't just there for commercial growers; we are also there to guide you on how to grow this medicine for your own family in your backyard.  

Elderberry Terry
Planting American

Planting Instructions

For thorough instructions on the planting, care, and keeping of elderberry plants check out our Planting Instructions document
American Elderberry Sambucus Canadensis A River Hills Harvest Pocket Guide to Planting (In
American Elderberry Sambucus Canadensis A River Hills Harvest Pocket Guide to Planting (In

The selections we grow here at River Hills Harvest have all at one point been selected from the wild here in the USA.  Through growing these particular selections we have found them to have characteristics that we desire, such as ripening times, disease resistance, and more.  Learn about the American elderberry selections we grow and how we sell them:

Another notable selection is Pocahontas, which is quickly gaining popularity.  This selection is known to have the largest flower and berry heads, sometimes measuring up to 2 feet.  In comparison to the other selections we grow, this is the largest plant and grows taller than 12 feet.  It is fast to spread however it may need a longer warm growing season to fully be able to fruit.

As well, we have started growing Nova and York selections.

  • Can I propagate my own elderberries?
    Yes, from dormant hardwood cuttings. It is best to take cuttings from plants that are at least two years old. Cuttings should be six-to- eight inches long and contain two or more pairs of opposite buds. We take our cuttings in when they are dormant, around January. They can be sanitized and stored with moisture in the refrigerator until ready to plant, we use sphagnum moss. We have had the most success with cuttings that contain only two pairs of opposite buds, we cut around 2 inches above the top and 2 inches below the bottom bud sets. Bottom cuts are made at an angle.
  • How big will my elderberry bushes get? How long will they live?
    Elderberries will grow to be 10 feet tall in northern regions and as tall as 15 feet in southern regions of the United States. Longevity records for canadensis have not been kept long enough to know for certain, but the European elderberry plant can live 25 years. It is believed canadensis lifespan will be similar in length. Also see the slide show on this page to explore more specific information about the selections we grow.
  • How are elderberries reproduced?
    Elderberries can be grown from seeds, cuttings, suckers, or rhizomes, but the easiest plantings are established with dormant hardwood cuttings and will produce a crop in the second year. Plantings established from seed will take 3-4 years to produce a crop. Each year we will have a number of cuttings and bare root plants to sell on our shop page. Stock is limited and most of these are purchased as a pre-order, so keep your eye out.
  • When will Elderberry cuttings ship?
    Our Elderberry cuttings are prepared when dormant and we do not begin shipping until January. Our shipping window for cuttings runs through March. We recommend keeping them refrigerated until you are ready to plant.
  • What types of soil and locations are best for elderberry plantings?
    Elderberry prefers a heavy soil that is high in organic material, with an ideal pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Plants prefer ample moisture and can thrive even under poor drainage conditions if planted in raised beds. Bottomland is ideal, but adequately irrigated uplands also sustain elderberries. The plants can sustain short periods of flooding. The plants can do well in transition zones between wetlands and upland areas. Production will be maximized in areas that receive full sun.
  • Where do Elderberries grow?
    Elderberry has the widest range of all small fruits in North America. It is known to grow from northern Quebec, Canada to South America. Elderberry is native to eastern North America. The American elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, typically grows in riparian areas as a bush. European elderberry, Sambucus nigra, typically grows as a small tree. Elderberries are successfully grown in almost every state in the US. We grow them commercially and they can also be grown in your backyard or garden.
  • When should I plant elderberries?
    Place cuttings in growing medium in late January or February to have roots and be ready to plant in spring. It is advised if you are planting non-rooted cuttings in the ground, to plant them in as cold of weather as you can. The cool weather keeps them from leafing out from the top buds and the cutting can focus on making roots from the bottom buds. Plants may be set in ground from early spring to June, but late plantings will have little growth the first year. A single cultivar will give good pollination for adequate production. Pollination usually occurs by wind while insects play a minor role. Browsing by deer can decrease production significantly. Birds and small animals are also attracted to the elderberry fruit. In Missouri, full flowering occurs in mid-June. Production will increase rapidly the first three years.
  • How can I edit my information for the Subscription Box?
    If you create a login on our website before signing up for the subscription box you will be able to adjust any shipping or billing information on your account. If you have already signed up for the subscription box you will need to email us directly regarding any changes that need to be made.

Documents, Tools & Downloads

Download our Planting Instructions

The University of Missouri's Elderberry Financial Decision Support Tool


Elderberry Research & Production

by Patrick Byers & Andrew Thomas

Growing & Marketing Elderberries in Missouri

by Patrick Byers, Andrew Thomas, Mihaela Cernusca, Larry Godsey & Michael Gold

Preserve It Fresh, Preserve It Safe

Adapted from the University of MO Extension & University of KY Cooperative Extension Services

Elderberry Insect & Disease Management

Elderberry Rust Defoliating Plants

University of Missouri Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Department

Web Articles

Read about the 5.3 million Dollar Elderberry Research Grant

Learn more about the Advancing Elderberry Group

Elderflower Production and Cyanide Concern

by Andrew Thomas

The University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Articles

Elderberry Showcase

by Linda Geist

Plant Bugs Damaging Elderberries

University of Missouri Integrated Pest Management

A Big Plan for A Small Berry 

by Andrew Thomas

From Folklore to Science, Cultivating Elderberry

by Mike Burden

Promise of Elderberry

by Linda Geist

A Different Kind of Specialty Crop

by Logan Jackson

From The Midwest Elderberry Cooperative Page:

The Little Berry That Could

by Christopher J Patton

Why Elderberries, Why Now

by Katie Reneker

How to Sell a Growing Elderberry Harvest

by Christopher J Patton

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