How to prune a Black Lace elderberry

Updated March 23, 2017

Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra "Black Lace") is a highly ornamental landscape shrub. Black Lace blooms in large pink flowers against dark purple foliage. Its lacy foliage is reminiscent of the dissectum Japanese maple. Black Lace grows from 1.8 to 2.4 m (6 to 8 feet) tall and is easily controlled by pruning. Prune the shrub immediately after it flowers.

Prune the Black Lace shrub in the spring and again in early August its first year. This prompts the shrub to produce new branches.

Trim off any spindly branches and those growing out of the form you desire for the shrub. Trim off up to one-third of its size.

Pinch off the growing tip of new stems when they reach 5 cm (2 inches) long. This encourages new branches for a fuller plant. When the new branches grow below the pinched tip, pinch those as well. Do this throughout the season, until August.

Clear away pruning debris from the soil around the Black Lace and water to a depth of 15 cm (6 inches) after pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at,,, RE/,,, and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.