Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus Nigra "Eva" Black Lace) is a patented variety of elderberry with attractive, dark-purple foliage. The leaves are deeply divided and lacy, similar to the foliage of Japanese maples. The plant produces large umbrels of creamy pink flowers in early summer, followed by clusters of edible black berries. Black Lace elderberry grows 6 to 8 feet tall. Plant Black Lace in containers, as a specimen plant in the yard or mass them together for an eye-catching display. Black Lace elderberry is generally healthy, but may suffer an occasional attack from an insect or fungal infection.
A fungal infection, powdery mildew causes spots and patches on Black Lace elderberry foliage, including young stems and buds. The plant looks as if it has been dusted with talcum powder. The whitish mildew eventually turns grey or tan and the elderberry's leaves curl, lose colour and may deform. Powdery mildew spores multiply during damp weather and can spread to other plants, including other Black Lace elderberries. A fungicide may be helpful, but only if the plant is treated early in the infection. Remove all plant debris and dispose of it away from the elderberry. Prune and destroy infected parts of the plant. Healthy plants are more resistant to powdery mildew, so make sure the Black Lace elderberry has good air circulation and proper water and fertiliser.
Brown, tan, black or yellow spots on Black Lace elderberry leaves may indicate the plant is infected with one of the many types of leaf spot disease. Leaf spot is usually caused by a fungal infection, but some diseases are caused by bacteria. The leaves may turn yellow and drop off the plant. Leaf spot is unsightly, but Black Lace elderberry plants generally survive and put out new, healthy growth in spite of the disease. Remove infected or dead foliage, rake up plant debris on the ground and dispose of the material away from the garden to help eliminate infectious organisms. If you know which type of leaf spot is affecting the Black Lace elderberry, apply the appropriate fungicide early in the spring as soon as buds appear. Follow label directions.
Hot, dry conditions favour the appearance of spider mites, tiny creatures related to spiders. Mites suck the juices from the plant, causing leaves to dry up and turn yellow, with stippling or spots. Small, white dots may appear on the leaves as mites suck out chlorophyll. Although the mites are difficult to see, they build small webs that are more noticeable. Use a hard spray from the garden hose to knock the mites off the plant. Spray the leaves top and bottom every other day, early in the morning. If the mites continue attacking the elderberry, apply an insecticidal soap for two weeks, applying the product every three to five days. Follow label instructions.
Like spider mites, aphids pierce the plant and suck out the elderberry's juices, stealing moisture and nutrients from the plants. Aphids leave behind a substance called honeydew, which in turn can host sooty mould that turns foliage black and interferes with photosynthesis. Use the garden hose to wash aphids off the Black Lace elderberry. Use horticultural soap or oil to control severe infestations. Pesticides may also be effective, but will also kill insects that prey on aphids, such as lady beetles, lacewings and parasitic wasps.