I am always looking for ways to incorporate more healing plants into the garden. I recently bought three flats of different medicinal herbs to add to the garden; however, a few weeks ago I ordered two elderberry bushes to augment my perennial border. The plants arrived over the weekend and I wasted no time getting them into the ground.
Used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.
Elderberries (Sambucus) have been a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, hence the medicinal benefits of elderberries are being investigated and rediscovered. Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not.
I ordered the plants from Stark Brothers Nursery. I looked for local resources and all I could find was a specimen in a big box store that I didn’t trust so I looked to the internet for a good, trusted resource.
Stark Brothers was started in 1816 in Louisiana, Missouri and is a family owned business that offers a number of productive trees and plants. I ordered two species of elderberry the Nova and the York. These plants, described below are best planted in the landscape together for best cross pollination, successful growing and fruit production.
The Nova Elderberry produces wide clusters of creamy white flowers appear in spring, making wonderful components for bouquets or for dipping in batter and making fritters. If left on the bush, the flowers develop into bountiful bunches of tender, deep purple berries used in jams, jellies, pies, and wines. The Nova is native to North America and therefore they grow fast and attract wildlife such as bees and hummingbirds, as a food source. This variety is cold hardy and should ripen (once mature) in early August.
In spring, these plants feature lovely white blooms, and in summer, they produce a bounty of soft, dark purple berries that are good for cooking or making delicious jams, jellies and wines rich in vitamin C. Berries ripen later than counterpart: Nova. Easy-to-grow plants tolerate dry or moist soils once established. Fruit is not affected by growing in partial shade. Shrubs also make great wildlife attractants. This variety is also cold hardy and ripens in late August.
These plants arrived very well packed from Stark Brothers in a secure bag with their roots packed with wet newspaper. Once they are removed from packaging and before they are planted, they need to have their roots rehydrated by soaking in water for 4-5 hours. While the plants were enjoying their cool bath, I prepared the holes. I placed the holes a little more than 8 feet apart along my perennial border fence row. Once the plants mature, they will be within pollination range. I dug a hole larger than the roots and placed the bush inside.
Once the backfill reaches 2/3 full, pack or tamp the soil lightly. This is also the time to water and feed. I use an organic fish fertilizer to add to the water and watered the plants in well. I then completed the backfill. I repeated the process on the other bush, then mulched the newly dug holes with a bit of bedding straw and watered the straw down.
We are expecting rain tomorrow so this should give these marvelously healthy bushes a great start in life. I will water, feed and baby these plants through their first year; they will require less care as they mature. Since these plants can grow 10’ tall, I will also be cautious and ensure that I prune appropriately.
These beauties should make an excellent addition to the healing garden!