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How to Save a Dying Elderberry Plant

Updated: April 28, 2022

Elderberry plants are known for their beautiful white flowers and delicious berries. They are a popular choice among home gardeners due to their easy-to-grow nature and the numerous health benefits of the berries. However, despite their hardy reputation, elderberry plants can sometimes suffer from various diseases and pests that can lead to their death. In this article, we will discuss how to save a dying elderberry plant and ensure it thrives for years to come.

Identify the Problem

The first step in saving a dying elderberry plant is to identify the problem. There are several common issues that can cause an elderberry plant to die, including:

  • Fungal diseases: Elderberry plants are susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, leaf spot, and rust. These diseases can cause the leaves to turn yellow or brown, and the plant may stop producing fruit.

  • Insects: Elderberry plants can be attacked by aphids, spider mites, and other insects that can damage the foliage and reduce the plant’s ability to produce fruit.

  • Poor soil conditions: Elderberry plants require well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. If the soil is too compacted or lacks nutrients, the plant may struggle to grow.

Once you have identified the problem, you can take steps to address it.

Treat the Problem

To treat fungal diseases, prune affected leaves and spray the plant with a fungicide. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fungicide label carefully. To control insect infestations, use an insecticidal soap or oil spray. If poor soil conditions are causing the problem, amend the soil with compost or other organic matter.

Provide Proper Care

In addition to treating specific problems, providing proper care can help prevent future issues and improve overall plant health. Here are some tips for caring for elderberry plants:

  • Water the plant regularly, especially during dry spells.

  • Fertilize the plant with a balanced fertilizer in the spring and fall.

  • Prune the plant in the winter to remove dead or damaged wood.

  • Mulch the plant to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.


Saving a dying elderberry plant requires identifying the problem, treating it, and providing proper care. With a little effort, you can revive your elderberry plant and enjoy its beautiful flowers and delicious berries for years to come.


How often should I water my elderberry plant?

Elderberry plants require regular watering, especially during dry spells. Water deeply once a week or more often if the soil is dry to the touch.

When should I prune my elderberry plant?

Prune your elderberry plant in the winter when it is dormant. Remove any dead or damaged wood, and thin out crowded branches to improve air circulation.

What is the best fertilizer for elderberry plants?

Use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the spring and fall. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen, as this can promote leaf growth at the expense of fruit production.

Can I grow elderberry plants in containers?

Yes, elderberry plants can be grown in containers, but they will require more frequent watering and fertilizing than plants grown in the ground. Choose a large container with good drainage and use a high-quality potting mix.