Black Tower Elderberry is a spectacular pink flowering plant with a multi-seasonal appeal. It has deep-purple foliage, blackish-red berries, and blooms that are relished by wildlife.
It has an upstanding column-like structure. This stunning plant is indigenous to Africa, Europe, and Southwestern Asia.
Black Tower Elderberry belong to the family of Adoxaceae that is part of the Sambucus genus. It grows delicious berries that cannot be eaten raw but are often enjoyed in jellies, pies, and jams.
Black Tower Elderberry Care
Black Tower Elderberry likes soil that is well-draining and humus-rich. Make sure the soil stays slightly moist when watering. This flowering plant prefers growing in partial to full sunlight. It requires a weekly watering schedule and prefers more water in the hot summer season. Fertilize this plant in early spring with 10-10-10, containing 1/8 pound of ammonium nitrate for best results.
Black Tower Elderberry Care Guide
Plant your Black Tower Elderberry in soil that is well-draining as it does not prefer staying in water for a very long time. Hence it will be great if you use a pot that has drainage holes under it to let the extra water drain.
It thrives in soil that is acidic, loamy and sandy. Although they do good in any kind of soil, slightly acidic soil that has some added organic compost and remains moist is the most preferred.
A soil test will help determine if there is a need to add amendments or change the pH. The recommended time for a soil test is before you plant your Black Tower Elderberry.
The preferred soil pH for Black Tower Elderberry is between 5.5 and 6.5. Adjust the pH before planting as adjusting it when the plant has been potted will be difficult.
Black Tower Elderberry will not tolerate drought, but you should not overwater it as well. It is important to allow the soil to dry out between watering, but don’t let it dry out completely, as it will halt the growth of the plant.
Starting from the bloom time till it harvests, Black Tower Elderberry requires an inch of water every week. Give the plant 1 to 2 inches of water every week during the time when there is less rainfall.
Proper drainage of water will protect your plant from overwatering and root rot.
The roots of Black Tower Elderberry are close to the top surface; when the top surface is dry, it will also indicate that roots are dry, and the plant needs water.
Provide them with a good amount of water during the first year of growth due to its shallow roots.¨
It thrives best and possesses strong foliage color in full sunlight. However, it will tolerate partial shade as well. Although it tolerates partial shade, it won’t develop the beautiful dark-colored foliage expected of it.
When you place the plant in direct sunlight, do not forget to provide it with more water. Light is an important aspect to be considered when growing Black Tower Elderberry as it strongly affects your plant’s foliage.
Black Tower Elderberry grows in a wide range of hardiness zones. USDA hardiness zones 3-9 are the most suitable for this plant.
It is therefore fair to say that it does not require a very specific temperature range to thrive. The plant loves moist and cool conditions instead of dry and hot.
It is vital to shield it from frost and not place it in very extreme temperatures.
Black Tower Elderberry is not very picky in terms of the preferred temperature range, and the same holds true for the right humidity levels. It does prefer a temperate environment but still does not require any specific range of humidity.
This plant however does love the humidity provided through the rain.
Fertilize your Black Tower Elderberry once every year with a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer that contains ammonium nitrate at a rate of 1/8 pound. The best season to fertilize the Black Tower Elderberry is spring.
Only apply the fertilizer to your plant during the growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing as it causes problems for it.
The recommended time for repotting is after 2 to 3 years and only in the winter season when it is dormant.
You should repot the plant if you think the growth is slow. This will help to revive the Black Tower Elderberry and will accelerate growth again.
You can also repot the plant if you notice yellow leaves. If there are only a few yellow leaves, you should trim them and transplant the rest of the healthy plant in a new soil medium.
If your plant has encountered a pest infestation, repot it. The soil might still contain some egg and it is best to completely replace it and disinfect the plant in case it is kept in a pot.
Pruning Black Tower Elderberry is not just important for its appearance but also to help it keep producing fruit. For the initial two to three years, let it grow as big and wide as it wants. Prune only the dead or damaged parts during this time and not the whole plant.
Pruning should be performed in the winter season when the plant is in dormancy. Before you begin pruning your Black Tower Elderberry, it is necessary to sterilize your pruning tools. After you have properly cleaned and disinfected the tools, you can begin pruning.
Start pruning by first trimming weak, broken, and dead canes from the shrubs present on the trunk. Next, trim off the canes that are older than three years.
Canes during the first three years are at the peak of growth, which declines the whole plant’s production.
Not trimming these old canes drains the plant’s energy and makes it prone to damage caused in winters. Also, prune old stems as they won’t bear any fruit, and if they do, the stem will split.
Black Tower Elderberry can be easily propagated using softwood cuttings. Follow the mentioned steps to grow this adorable plant all by yourself in your garden.
- These cuttings should be taken while the plant is growing, generally before mid of July.
- Cut the greenest tips from the branches that are at least three to six inches in size. While you cut the branch, you can remove all the leaves while keeping only one leaf attached to them.
- It is recommended to keep cuttings in freshwater for about 12 hours before you plant them in the soil medium to keep them fresh.
- Planting the cuttings in small pots will help the roots grow stronger before you plant them in their permanent location. You should perform this in the fall.
- If you know that the fresh cuttings will not be disturbed, it will be perfect for planting them in the soil after 12 hours of soaking.
- Keep a keen look at the soil quality of the cutting. It should be kept moist but not to an extent where there is standing water.
- Just in a few weeks, your Black Tower Elderberry will develop roots and begin to grow to mature size.
Black Tower Elderberry is predominantly observed for its scented late spring flowers. It has clusters of fragrant, showy pink flowers that won’t go unnoticed. The tiny flowers present in the large flat umbel-like cymes bloom from June to July.
The blooms give a scent that is similar to musk, making it a pleasant-smelling plant. The bloom time for the plant is spring which is followed by fruit growth in fall. The fruit is not directly edible but can be used in jams and pies to develop a delicious treat.
The delicious berries of the plant are quite good for your health as they contain phosphorus and vitamin C. The flower and fruit of this plant are combined together to make elderberry wine.
It extends to a height of nearly 6 to 8 feet (72 to 96 inches). The mature spread of this plant is 3 to 4 feet (36 to 48 inches). In the wild, this plant can grow to a height of about 20 feet (240 inches), but when cultivated in gardens, it grows smaller. The USDA hardiness zones for the plant is from 5 to 8.
It has compound pinnate leaves that are dark green in color and are about 10 inches (0.254 meters) in length. There are around 5 to 7 leaflets on each leaf that is serrated, ovate, and elliptic in shape.
It is light green when it first grows and slowly changes the color from burgundy to black as it keeps maturing. Don’t be surprised by these strange color changes as it is normal for them to be green in spring and then change color in fall and winter.
Common Problems for Black Tower Elderberry
Some of the common pests and diseases Black Tower Elderberry may encounter include mealybugs, aphids, scale, powdery mildew, and sometimes root rot also develops.
Mealybugs will suck out the important juices from your Black Tower Elderberry. They have a white powdery covering that will help in identifying them. Mealybugs favor a warm climate; therefore, avoid placing your Black Tower Elderberry in an extremely warm climate.
It tends to favor the new growth of your plant. If mealybugs are not treated on time, the leaves of the plant will begin to turn yellow and drop. They will cause the flower and fruit of your Black Tower Elderberry to drop permanently.
A few easy techniques can help you get rid of these bugs. If the infestation is minor, you can wash the mealybugs away with a strong stream of water.
You can also use isopropyl alcohol to treat mealybugs. For this, dip a cotton ball in a solution containing 70% isopropyl and rub the plant with it.
Other solutions include the use of neem oil, insect sprays made at home, and horticultural sprays that are plant-friendly.
Aphids are very tiny insects hardly visible through naked eyes. These tiny insects will suck the sap out of your Black Tower Elderberry’s foliage and shots. While they suck out the sap, they also inject their saliva into the plant through their needle-like mouths.
There are two effects caused by this insect. Firstly, sucking the sap weakens your Black Tower Elderberry, and saliva injected in the plant will cause the spread of these insects to any nearby plants.
Aphids also secrete a white sticky substance called honeydew. This covers the plant’s surface, making it unsightly and stops it from photosynthesizing. It will weaken your Black Tower Elderberry and stunt its growth.
If you notice many ants crawling on your plant, it is an indication that aphids are present. This is because ants love the honeydew that these insects secrete.
There are many ways through which you can get rid of this ugly tiny insect. You can splash the plant with a strong blast of water and drown the aphids.
There are many insects out there that don’t really cause any problem to your Black Tower Elderberry but rather kill the aphids. Ladybugs, damsel bugs, and lacewings are among the direct dangers to aphids.
You can also use garlic spray or tomato leaf spray to treat aphids, but you would have to reapply these sprays when the infestation occurs again. Insecticidal sprays are also beneficial in treating these insects.
Scales are tiny sap-sucking insects that stick to your Black Tower Elderberry branches, stems, and leaves. They cover themselves with a shell which is often confused with it being a disease.
Scales do not appear as individuals but rather in clusters which makes the task of identifying them easier. These insects do not move once they stick to your plant and begin to suck the sap right away.
If you see many small shell-like bumps on the surface of your Black Tower Elderberry, there is a high chance that scales have attacked it.
The plant’s growth slows down, and the leaves begin to turn yellow or brown. If the leaves begin to drop, you might want to consider inspecting your Black Tower Elderberry for scales.
Similar to aphids, these insects also secrete a sugary and sticky substance called honeydew. This honeydew attracts fungal organisms that produce sooty mold. Hence the presence of black sooty mold is also an indication that scales are present.
Scales are difficult insects to treat. If the infestation is frequent and widespread, it is best to dispose of Black Tower Elderberry to protect other plants growing near it.
If you think you can control the infestation, treat it with neem oil or any other horticultural oils. Another option is to only prune the leaves or branches that are infested.
If you observe fungus on your Black Tower Elderberry, there are chances this culprit is powdery mildew. It appears as a grey fungal covering on the stems and leaves of your plant. It begins as small spores but within no time forms a covering of fungi on the plant.
It causes the stunning leaves of your Black Tower Elderberry to turn yellow and drop prematurely. Powdery mildew grows very rapidly in a humid environment. Therefore, it is important that you avoid placing your plant in an extremely humid environment and provide it with the humidity it favors.
Chemical treatments are not very effective in treating this disease. You should rather consider pruning the affected parts or, in case of heavy infestation, throwing the whole plant away.
Plant your Black Tower Elderberry plants apart to allow air circulation in between. This also helps in keeping your stunning, brightly colored plant away from this ugly-looking disease.
Tips for Growing Black Tower Elderberry
- Use disinfected pruning tools while you prune your Black Tower Elderberry as it will stop the spread of diseases and pests.
- The use of gloves and goggles is important while you work with this plant.
- Avoid disturbing the plant when it is in a growing phase.
- Place the plant in sunny locating and protect it from frost.
Frequently Asked Questions about Black Tower Elderberry Care
Is Black Tower Elderberry toxic?
Although the fruit of the plant is often eaten and is not dangerous, still it is toxic to pets if eaten unripe. If your pet eats the berry before it is ready for harvesting, the toxin amygdalin will cause harm to your animal. If you notice symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, dilated pupil, and/or vomiting, it is an emergency, and you must contact a vet immediately. If the pet is not given any treatment, the poison will prove to be fatal for it.
Is Black Tower Elderberry edible?
The berries of Black Tower Elderberry are edible but not the rest of the parts. You should only eat the berries when they have fully ripped. You can create delicious dishes using the berries.
Is the Black Tower Elderberry always green?
The Black Tower Elderberry does not always stay green. The leaves are green only during the spring season, which eventually changes to black-purple later in the season.
Bold, colored foliage is forever an advantage in your garden. Black Tower Elderberry is the right plant when you want to grow a plant that grows vertically and beautifies narrow space and small garden. Its rich, bright flowers and black-purple foliage will add beauty and class to any space.
The dark foliage is often complimented when the stunning pink flowers begin to develop on them. This is one of the most exotic and ornamental plants you will find to create beauty in your space.
Providing Black Tower Elderberry with proper care and love will surely pay you well in the end. You won’t regret growing this plant on your lawn or in containers inside your house.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.