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Old 10-14-2020, 11:32 AM   #1
Lungwort
 
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Default How to Renew Elderberry

I have two massive elderberry bushes that I planted way back in 2012. They have grown very well for many years and put out a lot of fruit that I've used to make some great wine. The past two years, though, they have declined a lot with lots of dead canes on them and less and less fruit. I was wondering if there is some kind of pruning/ feeding I could do to help them bounce back? Or is it just kind of inevitable for the plant to decline after so many years.
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Old 10-14-2020, 12:46 PM   #2
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It is generally considered a "short lived" plant. So I would think that experimenting with some pruning to get some new growth would be worth trying. Perhaps something like cutting out all of the large trunks and even thinning the remaining stems. This kind of pruning is often used to rejuvenate lilacs.

Look to see if you have some seedlings coming up around your bushes. Growth from seeds produces the strongest and most vigorous plants. Seeds remain viable in the soil for many years.

One caveat on the pruning; the pith in elderberry stems is easily removed so it is a favorite nesting site for many native bees.
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Old 10-15-2020, 07:57 AM   #3
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I have seen recommendations to cut the whole plant back to the ground every year or every 2 years.
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:21 AM   #4
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I know ants and bees like nesting in the hollow canes, so I will save those. I think I'll go with a hard pruning in late winter with some heavy compost mulching and hope for the best. I made some new divisions this year, so I could just plant those. I don't have a lot of real estate for another massive bush, though, and my wife isn't into them anyway. Hmmmm
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