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How to Grow and Care for Black Beauty Slderberry

Sambucus nigra “black beauty”, known by many as the “black beauty elderberry”, is an example of European elderberry. European and American elderberries are the most common types of elderberry available, with the European types being significantly taller than its counterpart and the American elderberry having a high success rate in growing among fields and meadows.

Sambucus Nigra "Black Beauty"

Black Beauty elderberry plants produce almost black or deep purple foliage all season. Planting a compatible cultivar such as the black lace, laced up, or instant karma elderberries beside the black beauty can lead to increased fruit production.

Black beauty elderberry plants bloom in early spring, producing pink-colored flowers with an aromatic scent similar to anise. Berries are set in summer, having a greenish color which later turns to dark blue. Black Beauty elderberry berries and flowers are edible and are used in the production of wine, pies, and even jams. 

Native to a large part of Europe, the Black Beauty elderberries are part of the Adoxaceae family and have very tough, hardy, easy-going, and durable shrubs, growing well in a range of soil conditions.

Black Beauty elderberries are deciduous shrubs and are great as border plants as they can grow to a height of 6 to 8 feet while reaching a spread of 8 to 12 feet on average.

The Sambucus nigra “black beauty” has medicinal properties as it can be used to treat some upper respiratory inflammatory issues.

Plant Overview

Scientific nameSambucus nigra “black beauty”.
Common nameBlack beauty elderberry.
Size6 to 7 feet in height and 8 to 12 feet wide.
Lighting6 to 8 hours of full sunlight.
SoilMoist but also well-draining soil.
Temperature39 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 20 degrees Celsius). 
Soil pHAcidic to slightly alkaline.
ToxicityNot toxic.
PropagationStem cutting.

Sambucus nigra “Black Beauty” Care

Sambucus nigra "Black Beauty" Care
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Light Requirements

The Sambucus nigra “Black Beauty” requires a daily dosage of 6 to 8 hours of full or partial sunlight. Although the black beauty elderberry can withstand or tolerate partial shade, to get more and faster production of fruits and darker and more attractive foliage, growing under full light is best.

Soil Requirements

Black Beauty elderberries perform better in well-drained soil that is moist and well aerated with a pH level that’s neutral or slightly alkaline. To prevent water loss, cover the top of the soil with organic mulching materials such as wood chips or straws. Mulch helps with water retention and also suppresses weeds. It can be replaced every spring.

Water Requirements

Watering of the black beauty elderberry can be done once or twice a week. Sambucus nigras are drought tolerant but still love to have their soil moist. Maintain moist, not soggy or waterlogged soil by ensuring the top 8 inches of the soil are kept moist at all times.

Watering directly onto the soil is preferred over overhead watering because wet foliage is more susceptible to fungal diseases.

Fertilizer Requirements

Fertilizer Requirements
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The first fertilization of most elderberry plants is carried out in spring when the plant shoots out its early growth. A balanced conventional fertilizer such as 10-10-10 (NPK) should be sprinkled 6 inches away from the base of the plant and watered immediately for it to soak into the soil. 

Manure and compost can also be used in place of fertilizers. Ensure they are well-rotted to avoid burning the shallow roots of the plant.

Temperature And Humidity

Black Beauty elderberries can handle extreme temperature and humidity conditions, but prolonged exposure to these conditions can affect their productivity. Elderberry plants in general can thrive well in a slightly cold to warm environment of around 39 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 20 degrees Celsius). 


Pruning is best carried out during late winter or early spring because flowers bloom only on new growth. Stems of the black beauty elderberry become weak and unattractive as they age, so pruning them gives the plant a new look and also allows the plant to direct its energy into growing a newer and more attractive stem.


Propagation can be carried out with the use of either softwood or hardwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings root faster than hardwood cuttings.

Real Life Garden Solutions

Make a stem cutting (in early spring) of about 10 cm in height, cutting below a leaf node and ensuring the cutting has a woody base with soft top growth. Remove all of the lower leaves, leaving 3 to 5 at the top of the stem.

Prepare a well-draining potting mix and make a hole in the middle. Place the base of the cutting into the hole and cover with compost mixed with soil. Water the plant and place it in a bright location.

After a week or two, the plant should begin to show signs of growth and should be ready for planting in the field.

Common Health Problems/Pests And Diseases

Common pests affecting the Black Beauty elderberry plant include aphids and spider mites, which attack the leaves of the plant. Wash off these pests using a sharp spray of water in the morning to rinse the plant’s foliage. Also, washing the leaves with insecticidal soap and neem oil helps to keep bugs and pests away.

Common diseases are powdery mildew and leaf spot caused by the Podosphaera xanthii fungus. Cut off all infected leaves or stems affected by these diseases to prevent further spread.


Is Sambucus nigra “black beauty” toxic to pets?

The leaves, stems, and roots of the black beauty elderberry when eaten are toxic to both pets and humans as they contain cyanide. However, the ripe berries produced by the plant are nutritious and safe for both pets and humans.

How do I propagate Black Beauty elderberries through stem cutting?

Make a softwood stem cutting of about 10 cm above a leaf node, place the base of the cutting in an already prepared potting mix, water it well, and place it in a bright location.

How can I make my Sambucus nigra “black beauty” produce more fruits?

Planting a compatible cultivar such as the black lace, laced up, and instant karma elderberries beside the black beauty elderberry can lead to increased fruit production.

How often should I water my black beauty elderberry?

Watering can be done once or twice a week, depending on how fast the soil dries. Always keep the soil moist and never allow the soil to become soggy or waterlogged. Use a moisture meter to measure the moisture level of the soil before watering.

How to prevent pests from attacking my black beauty elderberry?

Use neem oil or other insecticidal soaps to wash the leaves of the elderberry plant. This will help keep pests such as spider mites and aphids away from the plant.