Nova, Adams and York Elderberry plant help

Asked October 1, 2020, 2:29 PM EDT

Morning, I have three first year elderberry plants that I planted in March of 2020. I usually water the plants once a week, around 1" of water. It looks like I need to add an iron supplement and maybe a fungicide? What are your thoughts? Thank you, Stacey Carlson

Oregon

4 Responses

Thank you for your question. First, it would be helpful to know what county you are in, since "Oregon" covers a wide territory, and plant diseases and other issues differ widely throughout the state. Second, please do not use any pesticides (insecticides, herbicides or fungicides) until the issue has been identified. It can make things worse. Third, before you add iron, it is important for you to have a soil test for pH (soil acidity) and nutrients. Fall is a good time to do that so, if soil amendments are needed, they can take effect over the winter. Here is an OSU publication with labs you can use: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em8677

Since OSU/WSU Extensions do not have a diagnostic page on elderberry (sambucca), I will need to do research a bit, and get back to you, hopefully by day's end tomorrow.

Stacey: I have done some research, and I am suspecting the problem with your berries is that the soil pH is too high (not acidic enough). Here is an Extension article about these plants, and the techniques to maintain them: https://extension.psu.edu/home-fruit-plantings-elderberries

As I previously suggested, getting a soil test for pH should go a long way toward determining whether It is too high and in need of acidification in order to take up nutrients. The yellowing (chlorosis) is probably due to the plant's inability to absorb nutrients: adding iron won't solve the problem. Hope this is helpful.

Thanks for all your help Kristena. I'll head out and get a soil test ASAP.

If I need to bring down the Ph, what would you recommend? Would you recommend something like Espoma's Organic Soil Acidifier?

If you ask the lab for recommendations to correct pH, they will do so. (At least I know A & L Labs will). You'll need to heed their advice on the amounts of additives, since you can overdo it. Elemental sulfur acidifies soil. We cannot endorse specific brands.