Elderberries send up many new canes each year. The canes usually reach full height in one season and develop lateral branches in the second. Flowers and fruit develop on the tips of the current season's growth—often on the new canes but especially on laterals.

Second-year elderberry canes with good lateral development are the most fruitful. In the third or fourth year, older wood tends to lose vigor and become weak. In late winter to early spring while the plants are dormant, remove all dead, broken, or weak canes plus all canes more than three years old. Leave an equal number of one-, two-, and three-year-old canes.

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