Plant profile: Elderberry

Scientific name: Sambucus simpsonii

Growth habit: An evergreen to deciduous, upright to rounded shrub with many arching branches producing plants that grow to 12 feet tall and wide. The leaves are medium green, feather-like, consisting of numerous leaflets and growing to 12 inches long and half as wide.

Light: Plant in full sun to light shade.

Water needs: Prefers moist sites but tolerates short periods of dry weather. Grows best with weekly waterings during hot dry months.

Feedings: Most plantings seldom need fertilizer, obtaining needed nutrients from decomposing leaves and mulches. Apply a general landscape fertilizer in March, June and August if needed to encourage growth.

Propagation: Start new plants from seeds or cuttings.

Ease of culture: Easy.

Hardiness: Hardy; loses it leaves in the colder locations.

Major problems: Chewing insects may feed on the foliage but seldom need control.

Pruning: Plants grow quickly and often gangly. Give a renewal pruning at the end of winter before new growth begins. Remove out of bounds shoots during the growing season as needed.

Uses: Elderberry is a good plant for your wet sites including depressions in the landscape, rain gardens, plus sites near lakes and ponds. Plants are often clustered as accents, hedges or view barriers. Elderberry plants are very noticeable when they produce major displays of white blossoms April through June and then sporadically much of the warmer months. The blossoms are followed by black berries that ripen during the summer. The fruits are a favorite of wildlife and can be used after cooking in pies and jellies and to make wines.

Florida native: Yes.

— Tom MacCubbin

Special to the Sentinel

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