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Elderberries - Cordial and Pruning

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Its summer in my Australian (Canberra) garden and we're in drought and already this January we've had hail the size of golf balls, heatwaves and bushfires. Somehow I managed to get enough berries off my elders to make cordial but the trees have been suffering in the heat.
I was wondering what pruning methods and when others employ when growing elderberries in hot dry conditions, and winters that go no lower than 14F (-10C) without snow.
 
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Hi
I don't prune my elderberries, but maybe I should.  They grow wild on my property. When I see then in early spring I just mow around them and let them grow if it's a convenient spot. As for water, in the heat of summer I will give them a drink if the hose is nearby. My muscovy ducks love a small kiddie pool so I move it around my yard. Most days I rince and refill it while moving it around the yard.  That way more areas get water and fertilizer and the ducks can't make a mud hole.
 
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1. do you have to water elder, no.  Will watering improve yields, disease resistance, make harvest and removing berries from the clusters easier, etc.?  Absolutely.  Elder generally only grow in wet areas - save for some of the varieties that are more drought tolerant - along sinkholes, water run off spots, etc.  

2. Per pruning,  do you have to prune elder? No.   Do you want better yields that are easier to access, increased disease/pest resistance,etc.?  Then prune.  Also, with elder, the pruned wood has SO many USES! Tired of seeing kids use plastic straws to shoot spitballs?   Hook them up with the original sibling and school harassment weapon of choice - elder weapons!  
 
Jerry Evans
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Good to know John.  I just bought your book on Amazon. Lol, now I'll when one!
I may try pruning this year.  It's one of those plants that I appreciate not having to prune.
 
JohnW Moody
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Thanks Jerry - if anyone else wants one, you can also get it direct from me at www.johnwmoody.com.  If you direct buy, you get a few bonuses not available through other sellers.
 
Jerry Evans
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Will do! I got your homesteading book from you but I guess I let this one slip passed me.
 
Aylwen Gardiner-Garden
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My elders are Sambucus nigra, and in our drought they need watering to survive. I've got berries drying/dying in their bunches on the trees and some trees all the leaves have dropped off and I need to do overnight remedial watering to see if I can get some new growth. I was wondering though if its best to prune back when harvesting the fruit in summer or in winter when dormant? And for those that prune, how much do you cut back?
As for their medicinal content - I normally use the cordial with hot water in winter but wondered if some elderberry wine I made a few years ago would have similar medicinal qualities?
 
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In our climate elderberry is a vigorous grower, common in hedgerows and essentially unkillable. Cut it to the ground and it will be 6ft high again within a year. Unpruned trees end up fruiting high up, and out of reached. Pruned trees are easy to harvest.

On top of that, elder is notorious for harming the stockproofing ability of hedgerows. It grows rapidly and shades adjacent plants, which die off leaving the hedge gappy. Hedge layers round here frequently try to kill elder in hedges because of this effect.
 
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