Elderberry Issues: Identification

“I ordered 2 black beauty elderberry last summer, but that is not what I received. The nursery that I bought them from told me to let them grow over the summer and the color would develop.  These photos were taken in late summer. I’ve gone back and forth with the company over the last few months, but to no success. They claim that the color will develop this next summer. Sounds fishy to me.  I live in Holmen and I see you “Research and Expert Witness Services”. Does this apply? I’d like to have what I ordered or have the money from it.  Please advise how to resolve this problem. Thanks, Jan

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Hi Jan,

Thanks for emailing me your photos of your Black Beauty Elderberries.  This is what your plant SHOULD look like:

BBAs a consultant, my first thing to look for/ask my customer is where these plants are located within the yard.

1. Are they in full sun or shade?

2. Are they located near a plant that would have some type of negative interaction (i.e. black walnut)?

3. What do the other plants look like that are planted nearby? Are they normal and true-to-type.

Based on the photos you have sent me and our dialog through email, I am confident that you were sent the incorrect variety. The plants you have look like they are a fruiting variety of elderberry rather than an ornamental type.

Your plants are in full sun, so there should be no issue with the development of color in the leaves. Sometimes, when plants with non-green colored leaves are planted in the wrong conditions (shade plant put in full sun, sun plant put in full shade), the colors other than green may not develop as well because certain wavelengths of light are lacking.  Chlorophyll (green pigmentation) is not the only one that requires the proper light conditions!

Having a plant like a black walnut in your yard can diminish the vigor and growth of plants nearby. I know this first hand from an experiment I did the past summer with tomatoes near some black walnuts in our yard.  You don’t have any plants in your landscape that would be detrimental to any of your other plants.

As seen in your photo, the other plants in the surrounding area are normal, true-to-type, and healthy.  There are no undlying issues that are affecting them or the elderberries.

I recommend contacting the nursery once more. Ask to speak to their customer service manager. Please feel free to use this blog article as proof of a professional opinion, or provide them with my contact details if they would like to discuss it with me. My hope is that they will see their error and replace or refund your cost for the elderberries.

However, if they are still stubborn, I will gladly come visit you to provide you with documentation of a professional, onsite visit as we discussed so that you can proceed with a small court claim.

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.


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