How to prune strawberry plants of the Rosaceae family is essential information that most gardeners seek. In this regard, know that this can be accomplished by cutting back the runners and clearing the plant of the yellowing leaves and dead stems to encourage healthy fruit production and prevent plant illnesses.
Read this in-depth article to grasp the process of pruning strawberries. We provide a complete step-by-step instruction that is easy to follow and is also straightforward.
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How to Prune Strawberry Plants The Right Way?
To prune strawberry plants you must do it in the right time, and first prune the flower heads. Afterward, do the snipping in summer, carry out the dead sections, and trim the runners. Later, snip back the leaves, mulch the beds right, and provide it with the right maintenance.
Strawberry plants can be pruned by snipping away overgrown runners, removing the dead, rotten leaves and stems, and cutting down on the undesired growth. All of these tasks should be done during the right season with the proper tools to improve the production of strawberry fruit.
– Step 1: Know the Right Time
Whether you want to know what to do with strawberry plants at end of season or how to prune strawberry plants in pots, the vital thing is that the right time to prune strawberries is when the plant has completed producing fruits in the late summer or autumn. After that, until mid-Feb, you could prune your strawberry; in short, you must know the right season to do it, so that it would maintain the right establishment rate.
Before this period, the only thing you should do is remove dead leaves, especially for plants that were planted late, have poorly developed, or suffered a severe winter. Now, you may stop and ask yourself, can I cut back strawberry plants in spring? The answer is no because pruning needs to be completed ahead of the growing strawberries season between spring and summer.
You should keep in mind that only in the first year after planting strawberries should the blossoms of day-neutral and ever-bearing varieties of plants be removed as soon as they appear and continue until around the middle of June. In other cases, you will have to give the blossoms time to produce fruit over the remainder of the season.
– Step 2: Prune Flower Heads
Only the flowers of ever-bearing plants and day-neutral plants should have their flower heads that are small or spent removed.
Remember that, when you aim to remove the flower stalks from the plant, you can carefully use your fingertip and thumb to avoid injuring the plant’s stem.
Ever-bearing plants are those that produce fruit during the entire growing season; in addition, you shouldn’t pick flowers beyond the middle of June. It is essential to keep in mind that the size of your blossoms directly affects the size of your strawberries. The removal of flowers is required because you do not want your plants to waste energy on the spent flowers.
– Step 3: Snip in Summers
Remove the fallen debris and dead stems from the plants in your strawberry bed in the summer. The reason why you should be doing this is that these plants usually begin to flower in the late spring, yielding fruit in the summer.
How you must begin doing so would be by cutting the foliage about four inches above the crowns of the plant. After that, you should aim to get rid of the vegetation, so that it makes room for more developing leaves, which can then be used to stimulate new development.
Aim to mow the June-bearing strawberries after the final harvest to an inch and a half above the plant crowns. Just when you have finished mowing, you should wait until next year to cut again, as doing so sooner would destroy younger strawberries growth.
As the mowing process is complete, now, you should use a rake to collect the clippings and other stem sections to prevent the spreading of fungal diseases. But, remember that you must refrain from mowing late-season strawberries picked in the last week of July.
– Step 4: Clear Out Dead Sections
Following the winter, the strawberry patch or bed may have a significant amount of fallen and decayed leaves. This needs to be removed; otherwise, the plant risks contracting a fungal infection or developing mold.
Basically, removing the decayed leaves would also clear the areas where slugs and other pests can hide, and they will no longer have shelter in your plant. You could manually remove or rake them out to clear large areas.
In addition to making your plants more prone to illness, dead leaves restrict air from moving freely through the plant’s soil, reducing the oxygen to penetrate the roots.
– Step 5: Trim the Runners
Strawberries have long runners that need to be reduced in length to prevent uncontrollable growth. Snip away the size of the runners that originate from the main plant.
This is essential so that they do not draw nutrients away from the mother plant, which may result in a significant drop in the quality of the berries. Moreover, the snipped runners could propagate new plants, which, when made contact with soil, will begin to root, and that is what you should aim for.
Moreover, note that you must trim the strawberry runners so that they are no more than one inch from the mother plant. What you can do in this case is to rake the runners-up and throw them in the compost pile if you do not want to utilize them to grow strawberries.
– Step 6: Snip Back on the Leaves
You may stop and wonder or ask yourself, should I cut leaves off strawberry plants? When pruning strawberries, yes, you must cut back the older leaves, but they should be apart from the runner. Too many leaves on strawberry plants can put the plant at risk of remaining moist, thus attracting bacterial or fungal growth.
To make things easier, you should have the right tool which is a sharp, sterile garden pruner so that the cuts made are neat without causing any damage to the tender foliage.
Place neat cuts with sterile and sharp tools close to the crown; however, do not tug at the delicate plant to remove the growth. The reason for this is that strawberry plants are gentle with thin roots, which may dislodge the plant from the soil. Reduce the height of the leaves to around two inches above the crown. Those who garden with matting row beds typically try using a rotary mower for delicate cuts.
– Step7: Mulch the Bed
The strawberry patch needs to have mulch applied to it right after you have accomplished pruning strawberry plants, and this helps water to be retained in the soil, which in turn helps to keep the strawberries moist and healthy. It is recommended to wait and apply after pruning until the plant shows signs of bearing fruit.
A layer of mulch applied around the plant also prevents damage from the cold weather. If plants are not protected from the low winter temperatures, the fruit buds may be killed, and the roots and crowns may sustain harm.
– Step 8: Maintenance After Pruning
After pruning your plant, do not leave behind clippings, runners, and leaves, as this can foster disease; instead, they should be composted or discarded. Water well and care for it as you would regularly do.
Note that it is not recommended that you prune strawberry plants if they appear sick or if you are moving your strawberries to a new bed, attempting to establish a system of matted rows. The best you can do is to wait until they have established roots before doing so.
Pruning not only makes your fruit bed look neater by eliminating all of the old growth, but you will notice that the appearance of your strawberry bed has significantly improved. You should never remove healthy and functional leaves, as these parts of the plant are essential for creating food, good plant growth, and continued existence.
You now know the essentials to prune a strawberry plant properly.
Here is a synopsis of all the information discussed throughout this guide:
- Strawberry plants can be pruned by snipping away overgrown runners, removing the dead, decaying leaves and stems, and cutting down on the growth that is not desired.
- All these activities need to be carried out at the appropriate season using the appropriate tools to get the desired result of increased strawberry fruit output.
- When the plant has finished producing fruit, typically in the late summer or early fall, it is the ideal time to perform any necessary pruning. Following that, you have up until the middle of February to prune your plants.
- After the last harvest, cut the strawberries that yield fruit in June to a height of one and a half inches above the plant crowns.
- Cut the length of the runners so that they are shorter than they were when they sprang from the parent plant. This is necessary to ensure that the offspring do not steal nutrients from the mother plant.
You now better understand how easy it is to prune strawberry plants. Therefore, if you have this fruit bed, you should prepare yourself with pruning equipment to ensure that there is the potential for a bountiful yield in the season ahead.