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Perennials/Black Lace Bush


QUESTION: I had a black lace elderberry it was great. I think it had a cane bore late last year and died out. if I cut the bush down now would it rejuvenate again maybe next year? only a few branches were effected. The trunk of the bush is hardy still.

ANSWER: Hi Alisa,
Thank you for your question.  I would not prune the elderberry until fall.  The reason being, especially if it is in flower or has already flowered, it is expending a lot of energy from it's roots to bloom and make seeds.  Blossoming is a plants effort to reproduce itself.  The blossoms form the seeds once pollinated and ergo, new plants.  I don't mean to be overly simplistic, I am just kind of going over the process.  So, after a plant has flowered, allow it's green leaves to absorb the sunlight which is key in the plant's photosynthetic process, whereby the plant converts sunshine and nitrogen in sugars that are stored in the roots to feed the plant next season.  I hope this helps.

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QUESTION: First thank you for responding. I had cut or pruned the branches back a little after the elderberry looked dead and especially when I found some holes in the cane. I got them out as I read they are cane bores. then I sprayed some bug safe spray for flowers and bushes. when I cut the bores out there looked like there was some green thick branches. so according to some nursery owners they did the same since we had a real rough winter too. she said everything is like a month behind. Hope she is right too.

Hi Alicia,
You were right to remove the dead growth.  If you continue to have problems with what appear to be borers, you may want to take a sample in to your local county extension agent.  They will look at the sample and help you diagnose the problem and treatment.  If you need contact information let me know your county and state.  I hope this helps.


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Tom Alonzo


I have been a gardener for 20 years with perennials both growing from seed and from nurseries. I went through the Master Gardener Program from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service and I answered questions on the Hotline a few years ago for the Wyandotte County Kansas Extension Service. I have also lived in the Florida, California, Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Missouri and am experienced with a variety of climates, soils and weather conditions.


I have been growing perennials for over 20 years now. I am self-taught mostly except for a master gardener class. I have experimented with all kinds of perennials including many that are not common to my area. I have read hundreds of books and grown hundreds of varieties of plants and hope to make it a business some day. I have become versed in botanical names and growing conditions and what I don't know off of the top of my head I can usually easily find in my vast array of research material and botanical and horticultural contacts. I especially enjoy experimenting with growing plants out of zone.

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