Purple Leaved Elder Sambucus nigra Black Lace

Description & features

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Product description

Sambucus nigra Black Lace

This development in modern Elderberry breeding has intense purple black foliage which is finely cut, giving it an effect similar to that of a Japanese maple. Creamy pink flowers in spring contrast nicely with the dark leaves. They are followed by blackish red berries which can be harvested for making elderberry wine and jam, or left on the plant to attract birds and other wildlife. Sambucus nigra Black Lace is very easy to grow, and adaptable to most sites.

Full sun is needed for the best leaf colour. Left to grow fully it will reach 2.5m (8ft) in height, but can also be pruned back each year to fit into more formal settings.
 

Features

Mature height
Very Small up to 5 metres
Spread
0-5 metres
Shape / habit
Shrub Multi-Stem
Growth rate
Fast
Soil type
All soil types
Sun levels
Full sun
Difficulty / hard to grow
Easy
Evergreen / Deciduous
Deciduous
Season of interest
Spring
Summer
Leaf
Purple/Red
Foliage
Cut leaf
Flower colour
Pink
Flowering month
May
June
Berries / fruit colour
Black
Uses
Small garden Tree
City/Urban Sites
Suitable for Containers
Suitable for Patio

Features

Mature height
Very Small up to 5 metres
Spread
0-5 metres
Shape / habit
Shrub Multi-Stem
Growth rate
Fast
Soil type
All soil types
Sun levels
Full sun
Difficulty / hard to grow
Easy
Evergreen / Deciduous
Deciduous
Season of interest
Spring
Summer
Leaf
Purple/Red
Foliage
Cut leaf
Flower colour
Pink
Flowering month
May
June
Berries / fruit colour
Black
Uses
Small garden Tree
City/Urban Sites
Suitable for Containers
Suitable for Patio

Aftercare

For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.

Watering

The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water.  It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree.  In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.

Weed Control

One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass.  When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree.  It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one  metre wide completely free of grass.  The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:

  1. Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup.  Apply each year for the first 3 years.  It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
  2. Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this.  This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.

Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem.  Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.

Staking

If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree.  Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm.  The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots.   Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.

Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.

  • 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
  • 100/125, 125/150  1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
  • 150/175  1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.

Ties

Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping.  These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens.  Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.

Protection from Animal Damage

Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees.  Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge.  Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.


Comments

By Janet on 03/08/2014

Please can you tell me if the foliage of the sambucus black lace can be cut for flower arranging.

By Simon on 11/08/2014

Hello Janet,

Yes I have seen Sambucus foliage used in flower arrangements before.

Kind regards

By Iris Mayhew on 28/08/2014

CAN YOU ADVISE OF THE BEST TIME TO PRUNE PLEASE. THANK HOU!

By Jacky Heath on 05/01/2015

Do you know where the variety ‘Black Lace’ originated? Who bred it?

By Margaret Ward on 10/01/2015

Would my Sambucus nigra Black Lace be happy growing in a large pot?

By Simon on 29/01/2015

Hello Margret,

I am sure it would be OK for a number of years in a large pot, though it would need feeding and pruning to keep it looking nice. Also as with all trees/shrubs in pots would need a lot of watering.

Kind regards,

Simon

By jo on 08/07/2015

Hi…i have recently moved into a house with a beautiful black lace in the garden. The former owners told me it need to but cut bacb to anout 12 inches every 3 years (which would be this year)...it is about 8 foot tall at present so this seems very radical…and scary!  Any advise welcome thank you
jo

By Simon on 29/07/2015

Dear Jo,

You can prune back Sambucus very hard as it is quite vigorous. Pruning will encourage a bushier plant and enhance the leaf colour. You can stick with light pruning if you prefer, and perhaps cut back just a few stems to 12 inches to avoid the plant becoming leggy.

By Lorraine Barry on 14/06/2016

Hi all i also have a Sambucus black lace you prune it in march also you can use the berries to make jam or wine. Mines in its second year and looks so beautiful. They are very hardy too i might use the berries this year to make jam or maybe wine.  You can leave the berries to attract birds and insects. Hope this is helpful

By Nicola on 23/06/2016

Hi
Mine is about 2.5m high but in way of an extension we are having…is it likely to survive being dug up and replanted now?? Also any tips on how best to do this pls? Many thanks in advance

By Simon on 24/06/2016

Hello Nicola,

It’s always a risk moving large plants. If you can, wait until winter when the plant is dormant. In any case, take as much of the root system as possible and do not let it dry out. Water in well in the new position. And if it fails, at least you have a lovely new extension! Plus you can replace the shrub quite easily.

By Anne on 26/06/2016

Hi
I planted a Black Lace Sambucus 2014.Last year it was beautiful but this year it has done very little,the foliage seems to have been stunted.
Any ideas as to what has gone wrong?

By Simon on 27/06/2016

Hello Anne,

Tricky to say what might have happened without inspecting the plant. You could try giving it a feed and see if this has any effect, and make sure it isn’t drying out.

By S.M.Jessop on 29/07/2016

I have taken cuttings from mine as we are having a conservatory and just in case moving the tree fails, my cuttings should make new trees, most have rooted now x

By terry on 09/09/2016

Why hasn’t my sambucus nigra flowered this year?

By Simon on 14/09/2016

Hello Terry,

When did you plant your Sambucus and have you pruned it at all? Pruning hard in spring is at the expense of flowers, but encourages well coloured foliage.

By Muriel Ferrer on 03/06/2017

What feed do you use on Sambuca “Black Lace” and how often should you feed. I am purchasing one this weekend to put in a large pot. Will it flourish in a pot?

By Simon on 09/06/2017

Hello Muriel,

You can use a balanced, slow release feed, following instructions on the packet. You can keep shrubs in pots, but you must keep it regularly watered and fed.

By Tamica on 01/04/2018

Hi,
I am new to the Sam.n.black lace, i understand that the berries are edible, but was wondering if the flowers are useable in the same way as the normal elderflowers ?  was going to try and make cordial, or maybe champagne ? thanks very much. T

By Simon on 02/04/2018

Hi Tamica,

Yes you can use the flowers and berries in the same way as with Sambucus nigra / common elder

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