Elderberry shrubs and bushes are native to the United States and can be seen growing throughout the country. There are around 30 species of elderberry bushes belonging to the genus Sambucus. Elderberry produces dark blue-black colored fruits. These fruits are used to make wines, elderberry tea, juices, jellies, and jams. Elderberry is also grown for ornamental purpose, and hence popular for landscaping. The different varieties have different colorful leaves and shapes, that bring beauty to a landscape. Elderberry can tolerate different soil conditions, however they can't tolerate drought conditions. Hence, gardeners should maintain the soil in which they are grown as well drained and loamy.
Main Elderberry Varieties
There are three main varieties of elderberry. This bush or tree is more widely-known and is very hardy plant that grows in the wild. It can grow quite large and bloom in late spring with small white flowers, which will then produce dark-colored berries.
The second is the American elder also known as sweet elder. It is generally found in the Eastern regions of United States and the berries are dark blue-black in color. These berries are used to make many food recipes, jam being one of the most popular.
European variety also known as black elder is found throughout the North America and the warmer climatic regions of Europe. This variety is the most popular and used for cooking.
Medicinal Properties and Uses of Elderberry
Elderberry is used for treating colds and fevers as it acts an expectorant. Hence, it benefits in treating bronchitis and asthma. It is also a diaphoretic (inducing perspiration), and when mixed with other herbal medicines it is used to treat influenza and sinusitis. Other medicinal uses of elderberry include treating nervous conditions, neuralgia, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and rheumatism. It is also used as a laxative and being a natural diuretic it is used to treat urinary problems. It is also used for weight loss and topical application is used to treat skin disorders.
Tips on Planting and Growing Elderberry
Decide on the type of elderberry bush you want for gardening. Then you can buy the seeds or a small plant of elderberry from your local nursery. Plant the seeds or bush in your garden and observe these care instructions. The soil should be maintained well drained and loamy. Keep the soil wet, but not too wet because the roots can't tolerate wet conditions for an extended time. You can use a soil mixture that contains half organic humus and half garden soil. Plant the shrubs at a distance of 6 feet from each other. The ideal time for planting is during spring. Make sure you water the soil thoroughly after plantation. You can provide the bush with a mulch of 3 - 4 inches, so that it helps retain the plant moisture. Also, mulch will help to keep the weeds away from the shrub.
For the first two years of growth no pruning should be done and the plant should be allowed to grow freely. Once the plant is well established you can prune the plant once in a year. Pruning should be done during early spring. Because, pruning older canes can encourage new shrub growth. Use a sharp pair of shears and remove any dead or diseased wood, apply a little solution of antibacterial liquid after every cut to prevent further infection. You can harvest the elderberry fruits from middle of August to middle of September.
This was all about elderberry tree. So, plant these bushes in your home and harvest the fruits to make tasty jams and jellies.