Will Freezing Weather Kill New Elderberry Plants

Wondering how much damage 22 degrees would do to new Elderberry plants in small containers?

Plants that had been in an unheated greenhouse with a shade cloth with a temperature range of about 25-55 that had just started to grow some new leaves. Publications say that plants in the ground are safe in zone 3 which could reach as low as -40.

I expect the freeze to damage the new leaf growth but what about killing the whole plant?

I can’t say specifically with those plants and temps, but I’ve found elders to be ridiculously resistant plants. One of mine (a Nova) started a new shoot one year in early fall and it never matured and lignified before fall. It basically stopped growing and just held its leaves all winter long and picked up where it started in the spring. I’m sure we had temps in the teens that year and I never even saw damage to the leaves.

I’m not sure if yours are in active growth if they’ll be more sensitive. Please let us know how they do and if there is any damage.


I have had apple trees stay green all winter and start up in the winter. Z6b

i bet they’ll be ok. id cover them with something overnight but make sure to uncover before the sun hits and cooks them.

I left a Nova in a 2 gallon plastic container out in the Massachusetts winter with a low around 5F this winter and it is turning green. I have a York in a .75 gallon that is leafed out that was left in the garage that I am leaving outside.

If you’re worried, I would probably protect the roots more.

These are actually plants I shipped to a customer. Only complaint in over 200 orders.

I explained they should recover by the last frost date after the ground warmed properly.

The customer did not trust my judgement and wanted replacements.

I offered replacements if the plants were shipped to me so I could analyze the problem which caused a disagreement.

I’m in a much warmer zone and my plants in zone 8 are just starting to show new growth. It seems reasonable that the new plants just set in the ground in a cooler zone have just not started to put on much new growth yet.

Only growing Elderberries for 3 years but its hard for me to believe 22 degrees really killed the plants not just the new growth.

I’m seeking the proper answer since I don’t want to ship plants to cooler zones with 22 degree temps next year if it’s going to kill the plants.

1 Like

My cuttings sat in a pot for a week of 14 degrees, right afterwards they started leafing out and growing roots

That’s a customer relations problem more than a horticultural one. Consider it this way; is the cost of replacing the stock (and perhaps gaining a loyal customer) more painful to you than being ‘right’?


I agree with Scott. Send them a replacement when the threat of freezing has passed. Then update your return policy to require customers do a scratch test and send you a photo as proof the plant is deceased.

The problem may not even be the freeze. I have 2 Pocahontas, 2 Johns, and 2 Bob Gordon and for some reason I haven’t investigated yet the Johns both just struggle and they are all in the same row with the same conditions.

Thanks for the feedback but I’m only interested in the horticultural aspects.

I only shared the circumstances to give the other growers a better understanding in order to get more reliable suggestions to the horticulture.

I really need to know if I should expect 22 degrees to kill the plants I’m shipping. If so I need to change my process. Its really not about being “right.” It’s about getting the “right” information that will prevent problems in the future, Sending the customer a free pack of plants if they refuse to return the plants they claim are dead does not provide me with any useful information.

So far, only 1 problem in over 200 Elder orders and I hope to prevent others… Still showing a 4.9 rating for my Elder sales. 10,000 FB followers for the farm on our FB page.

I try to go out of my way to help folks out although my posted policy is “No refunds or Exchanges”


Thanks for the suggestions. I’m in zone 8 and I quit shipping plants before the threat of freeze is over in many locations which is why I’m so focused on the horticulture.

We have 1/2 acre trial of what was 8 varieties (now 12). Our intention was to sell Elderberry fruit from the farm like the Blueberries, Blackberries and Peaches, but the economics is not very positive. We are not interested in manufacturing a shelf stable product like a syrup.

No virus inspected repository exist for Elderberries at the moment and Tomato Ringspot Virus on Elders is a problem in some areas. I’m told that a repository is on the way and Tissue Culture plants may be coming too. TC plants would eliminate a lot of the unknowns…

I have Pocahontas, Johns and Bob Gordon too. My B Gordon get mites bad but the other varieties don’t. I really like the Poca fruit, but they ripen late here when SWD is a problem and I refuse to spray them

This is what my York Elderberry cuttings in a .75 gallon container look like after being left out in a few days dropping into the mid 20s. Looking up online says the low was 26 but I didn’t track in the shaded yard.

Edit: Weather.com says it was 23 last night.

1 Like

Last Jan… i dug up and transplanted two crowns of a nice wild elderberry into my field.

I got a decent harvest last fall for first year.

I pruned them back to the ground once dormant and they are up and out now. They have multiplied and spread out a bit.

We had a 29F on Wed last week… did not seem to bother them at all.

I gave them a good weeding, some compost, a couole hand fulls of plant tone… and then a half wheelbarrow of wood chips.

They should be set for the season.

PS … our low this past winter was 2-3F one night and we had a 5-6F a few days later…but on both of those colder nights we had 6 inch of snow on the ground.

I had leaf lettuce and spinach, collards and kale in my unprotected veggie garden that survived (thanks to the snow cover) and we are still eating them.

Having a good blanket of snow down when you get those extreme cold nights… sure helps a lot.


1 Like

Good to see the new plants coming up well after the very cold weather.
Very helpful information.

1 Like

I gor a bare root elderberry in the middle of winter last year and just stuck them in a pot outside. Went through the coldest months of around 0F and they did just fine. Currently they are pushing growth and we still have nights of low 20’s. No signs of damage despite the little leaves being frozen solid.

1 Like

Some more very useful info! Seems like the plants may be as hardy as I thought they were