sambucus black lace cutting back? confusing advice

Hi, have a sambucus black lace -  have read different sites, some say it should be cut back hard now to encourage thicker growth and to keep it controllable others say to prune/cut back after flowering - any ideas please? mine is about two years old , about four foot but is very thin, I would like it to be bushier and not much higher. am grateful for any advice



  • AliPAliP Posts: 64

    You can treat them a couple of ways. Firstly like you mentioned by pruning them back hard in early spring, treating them much like you would a buddleja. This method tends to get the best leaf colour out of them.  Secondly is to let it get on with it and just give it a light prune here and there to keep it in check. If the thought of cutting it right back is a little daunting you could always just cut a stem or two down to ground level, this should help to bulk it out too.  Good luck.

  • Thank you - it gets so confusing to newby gardeners like me when you start reading around - why don't they say there are two ways and not just give one or the other? image

    will probably bite the bullet and cut it down as have been caught out with other plants by just trimming and they have then ended up quite 'thin' so fingers crossed

  • Muddle-UpMuddle-Up Posts: 9,684

    I've got one of these which was planted about 7 years ago, and in that time I've treated it both ways, and it's thriving!  It was getting far too tall so I cut it down to half it's height in early spring and it was fine.  Other years I cut it back after it flowered in autumn- and it was fine!  It really doesn't seem to mind what you do with it!  It'll keep on growing, though,so it does need a good 'haircut' once a year to keep it under control.image

    Aberdeenshire, NE Scotland☔
  • I have a couple of different Sambucus... I prune them hard to about 12"... This maintains the best leaf colour as mentioned before... They still reach heights of 7ft every year,,,,,

  • hi, i have a black lace sambuca i have trimmed it back to its second bud on the branch , which has given it a much better shape. i'm sure it will still grow to the top of my fence and look amazing.  i'm thinking of buying another in the golden colour, but have heard its not as hardy ......

  • I have a sambucus and have had it for 3 or 4 years,it had lovely pink flowers on it and made quite a show.  last autumn I cut it back to half but there are no buds coming on yet. the inside of the cutting is white has it died? do I dig it up or any suggestions please.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,656

    I would be patient till at least mid June and then, if there's no growth, dig it out.

    I have a black lace that I've allowed to grow tall but I've removed the lower branches to create a shady canopy for woodland plants.  Since I did that 18 months ago, the stems are thick with new buds of purple foliage.

    The golden form is much less hardy though I have one in a sheltered spot that is doing well.  It's parent, further along the boundary and more exposed has been frozen back to a shadow of its former self as a result of the last 4 hard winters here but both have lovely fresh golden foliage with bronze tints in spring so it's worth finding a spot for one.

    The Vendée, France
  • thankyou obelixx for that I will wait with bated breath,

  • Joan 3Joan 3 Posts: 4

    I'm thinking of getting one of these shrubs but want to know if I can grow it in a pot that's about 45cm> Not too bothered about how big it will grow.

  • Hello Joan 3,

    A Sambucus 'Black Lace' would usually like a bigger root run than you can give it in a 45cm diameter pot, even if you plan to cut it down to get good foliage each year. Why not try using your pot for an alternative black foliage plant, for example you could put in three plants of Actaea 'Black Negligee', which would look splendid.

    Emma team

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