July 25, 2017

How to Maintain Strawberry Plants Over Winter

strawberry plants

Strawberry Plant Sort out

As you know, I’m more than a bit partial to some sun-warmed, superbly juicy and sweet home grown strawberries ….but just because the season is well and truly over that’s not to say that we can forget those small, inconspicuous strawberry plants . With a little bit of TLC right now you can ensure that the plants will be in top condition for the coming cropping season.

How Best to Weed Your Strawberry Patch

vine-weevil-on-strawberry-plant
vine weevil on strawberry plant

Start by weeding out any strawberry plants which didn’t grow or perform well in recent years – we all have off days or seasons, but repeated poor performance in a strawberry usually means that the plant is past its best and unlikely to become significantly more productive.  It isn’t advisable to put a replacement plant in exactly the same spot, as the build up of soil borne diseases or pests may have been partly to blame for the first plant’s decline. When you dig out any plants and as you weed between the plants do look out for vine weevil adults or grubs, this horrible little pest loves strawberry plants and the grubs will eat away at the roots, causing serious problems. It is too late in the year  for the soil temperature to be warm enough to use the brilliant nematode control but collect up any adults or grubs you find and make a note to treat the plants in the spring as soon as temperatures warm up.

Avoiding Strawberry Plant Leaf Fungus

strawberry-plant-leaf-fungus
strawberry plant leaf fungus

Some of the leaves may have fallen from the plants already but as winters are generally milder, many strawberry plants hold some leaves throughout the year.  This means leaf spot and other fungal problems are easily carried over from one year to the next, so use a pair of sharp scissors to snip off and dispose of any leaves showing bright red, orange, purple or brown spots – classic leaf spot fungus !

Best Practices for Thinning and Pruning Strawberry Plants

Left to their own devices strawberry plants will move from their neat rows to form a tangled jungle of plants as they put on more and more runners which root to form new plants. You should be able to carefully dig up and re-plant some of these newly formed runner-strawberrry plants but choose only those which look perfectly healthy and which came from really good-looking parent plants. You can use these to increase the size of your strawberry patch or to plant up a new area or a few containers. You should also do some clearing between the rows, clearing newly formed unwanted plants to allow space between the chosen plants. This space allows for better air circulation (so fewer disease problems next year)  and reduces competition between the plants, so allowing those which remain to perform better! Finally mulch around and between the plants with well rotted manure…then sit back and dream of sundaes, cream, jam  and pavlovas to come!

Strawberry Cake with Cream

 

About The Author

Profile photo of Pippa

With a BSc in Botany and a further degree specializing in protecting plants from pests and diseases Pippa spent 11 years working for The Royal Horticultural Society at their garden in Wisley, advising gardeners about their gardening problems. More recently Pippa has become a well-loved and respected TV and Radio broadcaster and a prolific writer, with a host of best-selling gardening books to her name. Pippa regularly gives gardening talks and lectures, worked as the horticultural consultant for the ITV murder mystery series 'Rosemary and Thyme' and in 2007 was awarded an honorary Doctorate.

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