Sambucus nigra. “Black Lace” Elderberry Update

June 16th, 2008

Sambucus Nigra 'Black Lace' Elderberry
So here we are about 9 months after I first planted this bush and I thought I’d give an update, because really, I have so much more to say. I first blogged about Sambucus “Black Lace” when I first got it, so while I could talk about the colors whatnot, I couldn’t tell you much about my experience with the plant, but now, I can.

I am even more impressed with it and can recommend it even more fully than I did originally. First of all I had ordered some smaller ones from Wayside Gardens. When they (2) arrived one was barely alive, the other was just a stick with dead leaves. They looked like they hadn’t been watered for a month at least. I planted both and one made it, the other, stayed a stick. I called Wayside and they did send a free replacement. However, get this, I never dug up the stick, and this spring, it leafed out, alive, and well, and flowering currently if you can believe that.

So obviously this plant is extremely drought and neglect hardy, it was dead, dead, and 6 months later started growing again.

This plant is also very cold hardy, giving it no winter protection, us having a colder than average Winter and a way colder than average Spring here in zone 5, this was one of the first plants in my landscape to start leafing out, I’m talking probably about with the first tulips (which were late this year because of the cold), that early, and it never got damaged by any frosts or hard freezes subsequently.

Already it has put on probably 18-24 inches of new growth or more, and, it is flowering. The flowers are nice, clusters light pink that offset the black foliage well. And they’ll turn into berries of course, for my or the bird’s eating pleasure.

This plant has also done well for my mother in Zone 4.

All told, I gotta recommend this yet again, especially for northern gardeners trying to get that Japanese maple-like laceleaf foliage without all the fuss.

14 Responses to “Sambucus nigra. “Black Lace” Elderberry Update”

  1. Shady Gardener  Says:

    Thank you for this informative post!! How much sun does this bush need??? I’ve been admiring it for some time.

  2. Vera Pappas  Says:

    I am in zone 7 and had Gold Lace Sambsucus in a 2 gallon container from the nursery. I think this plant must not like the sun and heat of our summers. The leaves tended to burn from the heat. It did winter over, but really needs a cool slightly shaded spot. Which in turns reduces the yellow coloring.
    Coincidentally that nursery is not carrying them this year.

  3. Linda Paulso  Says:

    I live in Northwest MT up by Glacier Park and this is my Black Lace’s 2nd season. We got snow on June 10th and knocked it down but I propped it up and it grew like mad. Will need to prune and need to know when and how I should do this.

  4. C Mettler  Says:

    I just purchased a black lace elderberry plant about 3′ tall from Lowe’s in the Denver, Colorado, area. It is just gorgeous, but by the time I got home with it, it was really wilted. What will happen during our hot summer? Can this plant take heat?

  5. Sheron  Says:

    hi, guys this is great info. I am just discovering this plant and would like to know if it has fall colour.

  6. Vanessa  Says:

    I’ve had the Elderberry “Black Lace” for three seasons now, and I really like the plant. We have 2, each one in a half barrel. We live in zone 5, and this past winter was an unusually cold one for our area, with temperatures sometimes dropping to -18C. A few of our plants took a beating, but, though it was slow to get going when Spring came, the Elderberry survived! In our climate, this plant’s leaves do not change color in the fall,and during the winter, it actually loses it’s leaves. I think it would depend on the zone in which you live. I hope this helps.

  7. Tom Davis  Says:

    I have a question about the Black Lace. Do you tend to get flies all over the plant. We have two Black Lace Plants in our yard and this year we noticed an abundance of flies around the plant as well as hundreds of little tiny bugs. Any answers?

  8. Brenda  Says:

    I just purchased on of these and it is so beautiful? I did so for the berries moreso than the beauty of the plant because I like to make jelly from anything out of the ordinary. We have alot of native/wild elderberry in the Blue Ridge in SW Virginia and I hope to dig some of those up to plant on the perimeter of our yard as well, but this one will be in the front yard. So lovely! I also have Japanese Maples and felt this one would look nice amoungst them. Nice to see it’s hardy in the winters. I did wonder about that.

  9. Brenda  Says:

    Oops! Meant to place an exclamation point after “so beautiful”…not a question mark…but I think all of you caught that one ;>)

  10. Dee  Says:


    Did you purchase your Black Elderberry locally? I’m in SW Va as well, and I’m looking for a good local nursery to buy from. I’m also looking for Paw Paw and American Mulberry.


  11. Bryn Percival  Says:

    I planted one in quite a hot & sunny spot & the leaves turned yellowy brown during the summer mths. Obviosly it doesn’t like a sunny location. Will have to move it to a shady spot in the fall.

  12. winnie c.  Says:

    I have a black lace elder. Lovely plant. Does it need to be pruned in the fall and if so, how much?

  13. V  Says:

    Hello all

    I live in Nottingham UK England. I have two sambucus nigra black lace two years old. Both survived the two worst winters we have seen in decades – down to minus 9 at times, thick snow and ice. They have both flowered and show no signs of damage – it has also, for the UK, been very hot this year. Everyone who has seen them has admired them and asked what they are! Lovely plants. As regards pruning I left it until spring this year and pruned hard – two inches from base – they are now over 6 foot and growing

  14. Ron Jones  Says:

    2nd year growth was unbelievable. plants grew 6-8 feet Will have to prune to keep them where they are. They are subject to aphid infestation in shade… not in sun…. Extremely hardy and very easy to work with.

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