How to Prune Strawberries

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Are you wondering how to prune strawberries? Well, wonder no more! In this blog post, we'll walk you through the process of properly pruning strawberry plants so that you can get the most out of them. Keep reading for tips and tricks on how to trim your strawberry plants like a pro!

Strawberry Plants

Do Strawberry Plants Need to Be Cut Back?

We have new plants every spring in our above ground flower beds. My husband put in a raised bed for our plants a few years ago, and it's been a great way to enjoy strawberries from the our June-bearing strawberries as well as spring strawberries. Did you know you can actually grow strawberries all the way from early spring to late summer? It depends on your climate of course, but if you are taking great care of your young plants, you can see a lot of plant growth. Depending on your strawberry varieties, and how big your strawberry patch is, you may need to tend it often or not as much. We have a larger strawberry bed so it does require some upkeep!

If you are wondering if your plants need to be cut back, it all depends on the type of plants you have, and when you originally planted them.

Summer strawberries should be cut back before they start growing for the spring. Why? They can become a massive plant and end up not really giving much fruit! Strawberry runners can go far and wide, taking up the whole planter without giving much of a harvest. Be sure to make yourself a note before planting whether you have a spring or summer bearing fruit variety.

If the plant is in its first year, you can cut off blossoms so that the plant does not bear fruit. It will store energy for next year to have a plentiful amount of fruit, all while avoiding weak, smaller, and few that may grow during the first growing season. The main plant should be established and have strong growth before you allow its blossoms to produce fruit.

How to Prune Strawberries- When not to cut:

New plants or smaller container plants that haven't grown outward may be just fine without lots of major cutting. Autumn bearing plants may also not need to be cut in the spring.

Remember, cutting back plants is for the good of the plant. If you are cutting larger amounts of leaves off or cutting the wrong time of year, you are depriving the plant of its way to make energy and grow. So, avoid cutting leaves off as much as possible after the plant has blossomed in the spring.

Why Should I Prune Strawberries?

It's a good idea to prune strawberries both to establish a healthy mother plant and new plants, as well as harvest sweet fruit that is plentiful and good in size. There are many types of strawberries, but each type will need to be pruned according to directions on the plant, and any advice from your local nursery. You can also look up internet articles on which plants need pruning, and when the best time is to prune. Ultimately the goal is new growth and lots of strawberries! Here are a few things to prune for a healthy plant and good fruit production:

  • Old leaves
  • Old plants- if you have have established plants for a long time the original plant will no longer bear fruit. You may also remove old plants if you're moving into a home with older, unhealthy plants.
  • Prune first flowers during the first year of planting.
  • Leaves or shoots showing fungal diseases or gray mold- more on this below!
  • Old vines- if the vine has ceased to produce fruit and has turned gray or is dying, and has several established daughter plants, you can dig up the old vines.
  • Prune early runners- if the plant is sending out runners (sideways stems that are reproducing a new plant) you can cut these off to help the plant use energy for the fruit size and number.

What is a Strawberry Runner?

Strawberry runners are the way baby plants are reproduced from the older plants (or Mother plant). All strawberry varieties produce runners. It's important to know these runners will start at least one new plant during the season.

If you have a raised bed several square feet in size, and lots of air circulation, you can leave these runners alone and they will start new plants. When the runners from the parent plant meet the soil, they can take root. This is the new plant. You will not want to cut the runner right away until the new plant is established. If you do not want additional plants or they are in a bad location, you can prune these runners off and keep your original strawberry plant.

strawberry runner

Can I Replant my Strawberry Stems?

Replanting the new plants from runners is by far easier than starting out new strawberry plants from seeds. For one, they don't have to germinate and grow out of the soil which takes some time. And, you really don't have to do anything! Just pay attention to health of new leaves, and make sure the soil is healthy and it's getting the nutrients it needs.

After your strawberry plant has finished producing fruit, it's a good time to let these runners grow. Remember, these new plants will produce fruit the following year. If the end up flowering, go ahead and treat them as they are in their first year of growth.

You can gently direct them where they need to go, using flexible wire or bird netting. If you have a smaller pot with a healthy runner, go ahead and get a new pot and set it down along side your original container. Allow the runner to take root in the new pot– and you're good to go!

Do you need to cut off the runner after the new plant has taken root? Technically no. The long runner– scientific name is stolon– should die off on its own. If not, you can cut it after your new plant has fully taken root in the soil surface and cannot be moved around at all. Be patient, as the new plant will need a good root system to grow for best results.

What Kind of Pruning Sheers do I need to Prune Strawberries?

Any sharp, clean pruning shear should work. You will need to ensure the shears are clean to avoid powdery mildew, organic matter and other things that could make fruit trees sick. I also love to have a good pair of gardening gloves. Be sure not to cut back any poison or invasive plants using the same shears you use for your healthy fruit plants! I always wash my shears in soapy water and dry them completely before re-using them. It's like using “clean dishes” for your plants. 🙂

What Kinds Of Diseases and Garden Pests Should I Look for?

  • Insect damage- look for holes in plants
  • Gray mold- this can turn fruits gray and is known as Botrytis. How do you prevent this common fungus? Keep your garden bed clean and dry. Do not Allow a matted row system with plants on top of each other- this can limit air flow and make the plants more prone to fungus and mold. Add straw mulch to the garden bed, especially if there is a lot of wet weather. This can help increase some air flow. Be sure to remove all diseased leaves and fruits quickly- don't wait!
  • Powdery mildew- this is similar to gray mold but shows up as small dots at first. Look at the undersides of leaves for any signs of mildew. Again, avoiding overcrowded garden beds and quick removal of diseased plants is key. Try a baking soda mixture (you can spray over plants), or apple cider vinegar diluted in water sprayed over plants. As a bonus, this can also deter pests!

There are also leaf and root rots which are common with wet weather or dry weather. The best thing is to be attentive to your plants and look up problems quickly before they spread to the entire plant. Good weed control, clean beds and a layer of mulch will help you maintain healthy plants overall.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stay and check out more tips and garden advice here on the blog!

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