Cutting strawberries: here’s how to do it right

Strawberries are among the most popular soft fruits. If you want to harvest richly from healthy plants, you should cut back the old foliage after the harvest.

Cut back strawberries

Pruning strawberries is an important measure in the care of the plants

The aroma of homegrown strawberries is simply incomparable. But once the fruit has been harvested and eaten, the work is not done yet: Now you should reach for the secateurs. Indeed, pruning strawberries is an important measure in the care of the popular fruit. If you remove old foliage, the perennial will regrow vigorously – and delight you again next season with lots of fruit. We tell you when and how to prune strawberries properly.

Once-bearing strawberries are cut back after harvesting. With a sharp knife or secateurs, remove the outer leaves, as well as the tendrils. The heart of the shrub must not be damaged in the process. Regularly remove yellow and diseased leaves from all strawberry plants, including everbearing ones, as well as dry foliage after the winter period. If you are pruning tendrils with offspring to propagate strawberries, do not trim the foliage of the parent plant until the offshoot has been severed and transplanted.

Why cut back strawberries?

Pruning back the old foliage after the harvest increases the vitality of the plants and prevents diseases on strawberries. By pruning you ensure healthy new shoots. Strawberries are perennials. They grow perennially and produce new foliage if they are cut back after the first peak of vegetation. Very important: The heart of the strawberry plant must remain unharmed. Because from the root rhizome in the middle the plant sprouts freshly. New planting is easier the less old foliage there is to prevent it. The young leaf is well exposed. This will ensure better flower bud establishment and thus more yield next year.

Harvest strawberries

If you don’t forget to prune your strawberries, you can enjoy vigorous plants in the garden and harvest plenty of fruit the following year

Unplucked plants are also more susceptible to fungal diseases. For example, cutting off the strawberry foliage helps to combat strawberry powdery mildew. If you cut back once-bearing strawberry plants after harvest, you eliminate a source of transmission of viral diseases. Dispose of the cuttings in the trash. If you let it run over the compost, you may bring back plant diseases. Also remove all tendrils – unless you want to grow cuttings.

By the way, to improve plant health, it is generally recommended to clean out diseased leaves and parts of the plant when it comes to strawberries. This is especially true for everbearing strawberries. Take out old, yellowing foliage during the growing season. Be sure to remove dry leaves even after winter is over.

When and how to cut back strawberry plants?

Cut back your once-bearing strawberry plants immediately after harvesting. Usually this is the case in the middle of July. Clean out all the outer leaves except the heart with a sharp knife or pruning shears. Larger strawberry beds can be cut back to five to ten centimeters. Tip: Use a hedge trimmer for this purpose. You can even cut your strawberry patch in with a high-mounted lawn mower, as long as the rhizome is not damaged. Strawberry growers often cut back plants with a brush cutter, a gasoline-powered hedge trimmer attachment on the brush cutter, or a mulching tool. In commercial cultivation we speak of mulching. In the private garden it is better to sweep up the cuttings with a leaf rake.

Cut off the offshoots of strawberries

To propagate, strawberries form tendrils with so-called filaments. The offshoots cost the mother plant strength. That’s why you cut them after harvest. If you want to grow new seedlings from the offshoots of strawberries, proceed differently: Select the strongest offshoots. Make sure the mother plant is healthy. Cut back the foliage on the mother plant then only after the runners are separated and transplanted. The foliage of the mother plant is important in order to be able to supply the child sufficiently. Growing strawberry plants yourself is fun and preserves favorite varieties. Over the years, however, diseases and pests can easily be passed on during vegetative propagation. In professional propagation, the so-called staging guarantees that healthy seedlings are obtained. Experts therefore advise not to take cuttings more than once. In any case, it is recommended to buy young plants every now and then. So you can also try new varieties.

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