How To Prune Elderberries: Simple Tips For Maximum Yields

Elderberry plants are hardy shrubs that produce fragrant and flavorful fruits. Pruning is an essential practice for maintaining the health and productivity of elderberry plants. Regular pruning not only keeps the plant looking neat, but it also promotes more robust growth by removing dead or diseased branches.

If you’re a beginner gardener wondering how to prune elderberries, here’s everything you need to know.

Why prune elderberries?

Pruning is beneficial in many ways:

1. Promotes healthy growth – Pruning stimulates new growth and ensures that nutrients are used efficiently by the plant.

2. Increases fruit yield – Proper pruning removes old wood, which encourages more vigorous shoots that will bear more fruit during the next season.

3. Removes damaged branches – Removing diseased or damaged branches prevents them from spreading diseases to other parts of the plant

When should you prune elderberries?

Elderberry plants should be pruned annually when they enter dormancy in late fall. It’s best to wait until all leaves have fallen off before starting your pruning process as this makes it easier to identify any problem areas such as crossing or broken branches, sucker shoots (unproductive stems), and old canes.

How should I prune my elderberries?

Here are some steps on how to properly prune your Elderberry bushes:

1. Remove dead/diseased branches: Start by identifying any deadwood or disease-infected stems within your bush; these can usually be seen easily through their browned leaves compared with green new ones surrounding them – discard them immediately after cutting away using clean shears/tools!

2.Remove weak/stunted suckers: Suckers are sprouts developing at ground level from roots – cut this out right above where it emerged from soil level carefully without damaging its parent root system if it looks strong enough otherwise remove altogether if deemed non-productive

3.Trim down lateral limbs: Cut back overlong lateral arms depending on what stage they are in their growth cycle – those that have matured into woody matter should be cut back to 2-3″ below the crown of where they emerged from the main stem/trunk.

4.Shorten overly long canes: Cut back any overly-long ones by half or more (depending on age/strength), this encourages new growth and helps maintain bush density.

5.Remove excess canes: Finally, remove extra stems within your elderberry shrub area by cutting them down close to ground level; these may include ones that are not productive or growing dangerously close together which might limit air circulation leading to powdery mildew buildup.

Using clean pruning tools is important when pruning elderberries because it reduces the risk of spreading diseases between plants. Always sterilize your shears with alcohol before use and regularly throughout the process if you suspect diseased stem cuts as a precautionary measure.


Pruning Elderberries is an essential practice for maintaining plant health, encouraging new growth and promoting fruit yields. By removing deadwood, disease-infected branches, weak suckers, trimming lateral limbs & shortening overlong canes plus removing excess unneeded branches altogether – you’ll promote better airflow throughout which will reduce powdery mildew incidences too! Properly pruned elderberry bushes also look great as part of any garden landscape design!