You have successfully planted your strawberry plants, grown them up and even harvested a lot of fruit and are completely satisfied with yourself? Rest on your laurels yet, because at the end of the season there remains one last care measure, so that you can expect a rich harvest again next year. And that is you should cut back the strawberries. But when is the right time to do it and what should you pay attention to? We explain when and how to prune strawberries so that you do everything right.
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Why and when to cut strawberries?
The two types of strawberries differ not only in their lifespan, but also in when and how the plants should be cut. When to cut back strawberries? Namely, you should prune strawberries after harvest, which is already in midsummer for annual varieties. Everbearing strawberry varieties you usually harvest a few more weeks or even months (until October). So, the latest time to prune strawberries is in the fall for everbearing varieties or around mid-July for once-bearing varieties.
After harvesting the last berry, you have about three weeks to prune. Why. The plant forms inhibitors after this time that stop new buds from forming. So, by preventing this process, you ensure that the strawberry plant will be able to form buds again next year, and thus flowers and fruits.
Pruning also has another important reason. By regularly removing what has dried up and died, you also prevent the formation of diseases. This is especially true of rotting leaves and other plant parts that are on the ground, where moisture can cause mold and other plant diseases to form.
If there are no old leaves to disturb, the plants can form new ones unhindered, which then also get enough light. And this, in turn, later also promotes the formation of buds, which are necessary for the development of flowers and thus also for the formation of fruit – and more buds, of course, mean a richer harvest .
Care for strawberry plants through proper pruning – what to consider?
When pruning, it is important that you do not damage the heart of the plant or even cut it off completely. Always remove only the outer leaves and stems and use a sharp and disinfected knife or secateurs for this purpose. For larger beds, you can sometimes be more generous in your pruning. The strawberry plants may then be shortened up to 5 to 10 centimeters. For this purpose, you can also use the lawn mower, which is more practical than cutting by hand with scissors, especially for large strawberry beds. However, be careful not to damage the rhizome by placing the mower high enough.
How to proceed with offshoots?
After harvesting, also cut off the offshoots that the plant has formed. However, you perform this step only if you do not plan to propagate your plants through these offshoots . Otherwise, leave the most vigorous offshoots on the mother plant (this should be necessarily healthy and vigorous, so as not to inherit diseases) and also continue to leave the mother plant intact. Only when the offshoots are transplanted, that is, have formed their own roots, the main plant may be cut back, because until then it feeds its children.
Note: Propagate your strawberry plants no more than once, because after that the risk that the young plants develop diseases increases. Instead, buy new plants again the second year.
Pruning strawberries – Clean the plants regularly.
As mentioned earlier, you should regularly prune your strawberries. However, by this we do not mean pruning after harvest, but discreet care throughout the season . Check the plantlets every now and then for yellow or rotten leaves, dried up parts of the plant and remove them immediately. Plant parts that remain on the moist soil create ideal conditions for fungal diseases that can harm or even kill your plants.
Should you prune strawberries in the spring?
In the spring, remove all dead leaves. This applies to the new plants that you planted only in the fall of the previous year. If the old plants have formed leaves again, despite pruning, they are very likely to have died during the winter. In this case, too, remove them in the spring at the latest .
The correct pruning for strawberry plants: Conclusion
So, on the whole, do not leave dead plant parts on the plant, but remove them as soon as possible to avoid diseases and weak plants as a result. Pruning is used to increase the vigor of strawberry plants and should be done immediately after or up to 3 weeks after harvest. For single-bearing varieties, this time is in July; for perennials, this can last into October, depending on the variety. When pruning, be careful not to injure the rhizome, as this is where the new leaves will sprout.