How to Grow Black Lace Elderberry

Black lace elderberry plant with small white and light pink flower flat-topped clusters closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

In This Article

Black Lace elderberry bushes offer ornamental value to the landscape. The beauty of this European elderberry cultivar begins with the namesake leaves, which are, indeed, lacy (deeply lobed) and almost black (a very dark purple). The plant also produces pretty, light-pink, fragrant (lemon-scented) flowers, which appear in flat-topped clusters. These flowers become richly black, glossy berries by autumn.

The berries are edible and are high in vitamin C. But, if you want to harvest elderberries for the production of food and drink, the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a better choice than the European type (Sambucus nigra). Because of their interesting leaves, the European type is superior as a foliage plant for the landscape.

The plant is suitable for use in woodland gardens, in rain gardens, and to attract birds and butterflies to the yard. Another great use for Black Lace elderberry is to plant it next to a shrub with brightly-colored leaves to create contrast and interest.

 Botanical Name  Sambucus nigra 'Eva'; "Black Lace" is the name used in trade
 Common Name  Black Lace elderberry
 Plant Type  Deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub
 Mature Size  6 to 8 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide
 Sun Exposure  Full sun to partial shade
 Soil Type  Evenly moist, humusy, with adequate drainage
 Soil pH  Slightly acidic to neutral
 Bloom Time  June to July
 Flower Color  Light pink
 Hardiness Zones  4 to 7, USA
 Native Area  Europe
 Toxicity Toxic to dogs and cats

Black Lace Elderberry Care

Technically, Black Lace elderberry is self-pollinating. But if you wish to have as many berries as possible, plant another cultivar near your Black Lace elderberry for increased pollination.

At the southern end of its range, it can be planted in spring or fall. But, at the northern end of its range, plant in spring to give it time to get established before the next winter arrives. Mulching is also important in the South, to retain moisture in the soil, and, in the North, to offer winter protection.

Black lace elderberry plant with small white flat-topped flower clusters surrounded by lacy dark green elaves

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Black lace elderberry plant with dark lacy leaves below light pink flat-topped flower clusters

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Black lace elderberry plant with small light pink flat-topped flower clusters on dark stem and leaves

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Black lace elderberry light pink flat-topped flower clusters closeup

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault


In the North, while Black Lace elderberry will tolerate partial shade, it will produce more flowers and more attractive foliage color if grown in full sun. At the southern end of its range, it will benefit from afternoon shade.


The Black Lace elderberry bush tolerates clay soil types better than many shrubs, but performs better over time if planted in soil that drains well.


Keep the soil of Black Lace elderberry evenly moist. Since, in the wild, elderberry shrubs often grow near wetlands, it comes as no surprise that cultivars tolerate wet soil better than many other species of plants .


Feed Black Lace elderberry with a balanced fertilizer once in spring and once in summer


To prune your Black Lace elderberry, keep in mind that the plant blooms and fruits on new growth. This means that the correct time to prune is late winter or early spring. Pruning this shrub will keep it vigorous, attractive, and check its spread.

As the woody stems of the plant get older, they become weaker and less attractive. Removing these older stems will direct more energy into the newer, more attractive stems.

Black Lace elderberry can spread via suckers. Prune out the suckers when you find them if you want to keep the plant from spreading.

If you do not mind having the plant spread, you have the option of allowing the suckers to grow to create an informal hedge .

Common Pests/Diseases

Black Lace elderberry is vulnerable to aphids, borers, and spider mites. Neem oil is a good choice for addressing infestations of these insects. .

The diseases to which Black Lace elderberry is susceptible (canker, leaf spot, and powdery mildew) are best addressed through prevention. Ensure there is proper spacing to promote good air circulation, irrigate at soil level, and keep mulch six inches away from the main stems of the bush.