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6 MIN 22 May
Last update: 12 May 2024

Pruning Strawberries: Why, When & How

Pruning strawberries 101: A simple guide to a bountiful harvest. Learn the essential steps for best results.

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Pruning strawberries forms an important routine for any gardener who dreams of a bountiful harvest of juicy strawberries. By applying the right pruning techniques, you can promote the growth and fruiting of the plants. In this article, you’ll get a comprehensible guide to pruning strawberry plants so that you can enjoy a bountiful harvest.

Table of contents:
Show all
  •  Why is pruning strawberries so important?
  • When to cut back strawberry plants in UK?
  • Step-by-step guide to pruning strawberries
  • Common mistakes when cutting back strawberries
  • How many are too many leaves on strawberry plants?
  • Tips to keep your strawberry plants healthy
  • Other important tips to care for your strawberry plants
  • Troubleshooting Strawberry Plants
  • FAQs about pruning strawberries
  • Ready to prune strawberries for a bountiful harvest?

 Why is pruning strawberries so important?

Pruning strawberry plants is important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps in encouraging healthy growth of the plants. By removing old, damaged, or diseased leaves and branches, you keep your plants healthy and prevent the spread of disease.

In addition, pruning strawberries promotes the fruiting of the plants. By removing excess leaves and runners from strawberries, the plants can focus their energy on producing healthy and juicy strawberries.

When to cut back strawberry plants in UK?

Prune your strawberry plants after they have finished fruiting in late summer to early autumn. The best time to prune strawberries depends on the type of plant. Usually, you should cut your strawberries in mid-July or latest at the end of July. Some kinds, however, bear fruits until autumn. Then you should only carefully remove old growth, as they don’t get much time to recover before winter.

Pruning strawberries with garden shears

In the following spring, the focus for these strawberries shifts to removing any dead or damaged foliage that has emerged over the winter and preparing the plants for the upcoming growing season. This might also include thinning out any excess runners that have formed and are not wanted for new plantings.

You can also prune the strawberry plant in the winter, especially if you notice that the plants have started to grow too close together. By removing excess runners and leaves, you can give the plants better air circulation and thus reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Step-by-step guide to pruning strawberries

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prune strawberries:

  1. Remove leaves

    Start by removing old, damaged, or diseased leaves and branches. Use sharp pruning shears to prune the strawberries. Cut the leaves and branches as close to the base of the plant as possible.

  2. Snip runners

    Remove excess runners. Pick out the healthiest runners and carefully cut them with sharp pruning shears. Leave about three to four runners per plant to promote growth and fruiting.

  3. Thin out plants

    If the strawberry plants are growing too close together, remove some of the plants to create enough space for healthy growth. When doing this, make sure to remove the weakest plants and keep the stronger ones.

  4. Trim summer bearers

    When needed, trim the leaves of the summer bearers—plants that produce fruit in the warmer months. Snip them approximately ten centimetres from the top of the plant. This action encourages fresh growth, as it boosts the plant’s capacity to photosynthesise and sprout new foliage.

Cutting strawberry runners

Common mistakes when cutting back strawberries

While tending to strawberries, certain frequent blunders can put a plentiful yield at risk. Primarily, it’s crucial not to eliminate an excessive number of leaves and runners. When trimming strawberries, the key is to strike an equilibrium between getting rid of surplus growth and preserving an adequate number of leaves and offshoots for a vigorous plant.

Another frequently occurring misstep is trimming strawberries at an inappropriate time, more precisely, too early during springtime. Therefore, hold off until the frost has cleared, and the plants begin to bud before shearing them. Trimming at an unsuitable time can hinder the plant’s growth and fruit-bearing capacity.

How many are too many leaves on strawberry plants?

The thing with leaves is, they provide energy to the plant through photosynthesis, but they also cost significant effort to maintain. You can help your strawberry plant by removing leaves that don’t get much sunlight or grow too thick. The number of leaves if not the key here. Just take a general look and trust your gut. Or have a look at the strawberry plant in your garden that has the best strawberry yield and model the others after it. 

Tips to keep your strawberry plants healthy

In addition to pruning your strawberries, there are also a number of other important tips for caring for your strawberry plants and maintaining their health. Here are some valuable tips:

  • Make sure you have good irrigation. After all, strawberry plants need regular watering, especially during dry periods. Make sure to keep the soil moist at all times, but avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.
  • Check regularly for pests and diseases. So keep a close eye on your plants and take measures to control pests and diseases if necessary.
  • Fertilise your plants frequently. To accomplish this, use a balanced fertiliser rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to promote the growth and fruiting of the strawberry plants.
Watering strawberry plant

Other important tips to care for your strawberry plants

Not only do you need to prune and take good care of your strawberries, there are also a number of other essential tasks that you need to do if you want to increase your chances of a bountiful harvest.

One of these tasks is mulching the strawberry beds. By applying a layer of organic mulching material around the plants, you can stop the growth of weeds, maintain good moisture in your soil, and promote fruit set.

The Garden Doctor:
Mulching is a proven way to use natural ground covers such as compost and wood nitpicks in the garden. You can use it if you want to protect your crops and plants from harsh weather conditions and weeds.

Another task is to regularly check and remove diseased or damaged strawberries. This helps to prevent the spread of disease and maintain the health of the plants.

Troubleshooting Strawberry Plants

Sometimes problems can arise with strawberry plants, such as diseases, pests, or lack of fruiting. Here are some possible solutions to the most common problems.

For pests and diseases, you can use biological control methods, such as using insecticides based on natural ingredients or introducing beneficial insects into the garden.

If the strawberry plants don’t set fruit well, you can try to promote pollination by attracting bees and other pollinating insects. Plant flowers that attract bees near the strawberry plants.

FAQs about pruning strawberries

How to look after strawberry plants?

To maintain strawberries optimally, prune old leaves and runners regularly. Make sure you have plenty of sunlight and moist, well-drained soil. Use organic fertilisers and check for diseases regularly. Follow these simple steps for a healthy strawberry harvest.

Where to cut strawberries?

Prune strawberries just above the crown once they are completely red and firm to the touch. Use sharp pruning shears to limit damage. Pick your strawberries regularly to promote growth and enjoy fresh, flavourful strawberries from your own garden.

What do you do with the runners of strawberries?

Use the runners of strawberries by rooting them in soil next to the mother plant. After rooting, separate and transplant them to a new location for expansion of your strawberry bed. This will increase your yield and maintain healthy plants at the same time.

Ready to prune strawberries for a bountiful harvest?

Pruning strawberries is a must for any strawberry grower. A bountiful harvest of juicy strawberries will be your reward. So, follow our step-by-step guide, avoid common mistakes, and enjoy the delicious fruits of your efforts.

If you’re looking for yet another enchantingly beautiful plant that attracts not only masses of bees but also butterflies, find out how to easily plant and care for lavender. Or learn all the ins and outs of how to prune a fig tree like a pro. Do you have any questions or need more advice? You are welcome to leave a comment or contact us.

Happy pruning and harvesting!

Louis Hooft
Founder & Lawn expert
Introducing Louis Hooft, the founder of MOOWY and your reliable expert. With a profound love for stunning lawns and extensive experience in garden maintenance, Louis is here to assist garden enthusiasts in achieving a greener and livelier outdoors than ever before. Count on Louis for invaluable tips, clever tricks, and top-notch products to make your garden flourish!
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