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I have some Sambucus Peruviana, which gives a beautiful white flower that I boil to make a soothing drink for sore throats. It also gives a nice berry that can be snacked on.

I see online that there are many species of Sambucus worldwide with different flowers and fruit, could I graft other interesting varieties onto my native sambucus? I live in the Andean Tropics at 1800m above sea level, could I just plant cuttings of other species?

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Because of the large pith cavity in elderberry stems, grafting is tricky and good grafts are rare. It's better to grow them from cuttings. Spliced side grafting onto one-year-old seedlings may be successful. semi-ripe or softwood cuttings (best done when new shoots are not yet ripened) should have the stems plugged at the end (I use rose thorns) to help prevent rot (or you can try nodal cuttings). There may be a highish mortality rate as compared with other cuttings, but those that take usually do quite well.

The best type of cuttings will be hardwood cuttings taken with a heel. This will help prevent rot from taking over the large vacancy where the pith is, and ruining the cuttings.

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    Great answer, thanks! Will a temperate cutting grow in the tropics? How much do root systems depend on frost? – Alex Sep 30 '14 at 1:26
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    @Alex The biggest issue I foresee (and it doesn't only pertain to cuttings) is the dormancy period. Plants that are used to temperate climates often are confused by the consistent temperatures, and the day length staying the same when introduced to the tropics. That's the main reason for the higher number on plants' hardiness zone listings. – J. Musser Sep 30 '14 at 1:31
  • So its more about light and temperature than the roots... in a temperate climate I could bring plants into a green house, is there something creative thatI could do to resemble a dormancy period? – Alex Sep 30 '14 at 12:44
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    @Alex To simulate winter (the dormant period of temperate woodies), you will need to shorten the day-length and give them a few weeks at less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. – J. Musser Sep 30 '14 at 12:50
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Don't use the stems with pit cavity. Use small new twigs that are still green on the outside for grafting. I am convinced it may work. I'm not sure about the altitude though!

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  • Smaller twigs might well be the way to go with Sambucus as it would be easier to get better cambium contact. They do still need to be firm (last seasons extension growth would probably work best) and it would need to be done when the plant is dormant. That said cuttings are easy and will be more successful. – George of all trades Mar 2 '17 at 20:12

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