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While strawberries are generally resilient perennials in many climates, they may need some help to withstand the harshness of winter, particularly in regions where temperatures can drop significantly. Without adequate protection, plants can suffer damage and, in severe cases, even freeze entirely.
Keeping this in view, let’s delve into the proper steps to prepare your strawberry plants for winter, whether they’re planted in the soil or in containers!
How To Prepare Strawberry Plants For Winter – Fall Strawberry Care
Pruning Strawberry Plants Before Winter
The dilemma of whether or not to prune strawberry plants is a pertinent one. Pruning, indeed, serves as a means to rejuvenate and invigorate the plants. However, it’s imperative to never mow down or prune back your strawberry plants during the fall, especially in the case of June-bearing varieties. This action is essentially inviting trouble!
The reason is, that next year’s fruit is already in the process of development within the plants. Trimming them back at this stage can lead to the elimination of a significant portion, if not all, of next year’s fruit. Moreover, it leaves the plants with minimal to no natural protection. Regrettably, pruning your plants in late autumn is highly likely to result in a complete loss due to freezing.
Pruning should strictly take place immediately after the last fruiting in early summer. This allows the plants ample time to regenerate before entering their dormant phase. This renewed growth serves as a protective shield for the plants during the winter months.
If you happened to skip pruning your plants this year, there’s no cause for concern. Just let them be. Come late fall, apply a layer of mulch for added protection. Then, in the following year, make sure to prune them back in early summer as soon as they complete their fruiting cycle.
Planted Strawberry Plants vs. Container Plants
The manner in which you grow your strawberries significantly influences the winter protection they require. Above all, regardless of their growing environment, all strawberry plants must be shielded from the cold.
For plants cultivated in a garden or raised bed, this entails spreading a substantial 4 to 6-inch thick layer of mulch over them in late fall. When selecting mulch, it’s crucial to opt for a material that permits adequate airflow to reach the plants and their underlying roots.
There are several effective options for mulching strawberries, with straw ranking at the forefront. Straw offers excellent protection for the roots while still allowing the plants to breathe and absorb moisture throughout the winter.
Shredded leaves present another excellent choice. When opting for leaves, it’s preferable to shred them rather than using them whole. Whole leaves have the tendency to become waterlogged and dense, potentially suffocating the plants. This is an instance where oak leaves shine, as they impart a slight acidity to the soil as they decompose, ideal for acid-loving strawberry plants.
Pine needles also serve as a viable mulching option and contribute a touch of acidity to the plant. However, it’s important not to go overboard, as they can form a dense mat similar to whole leaves. The optimal approach with pine needles is to blend them with straw or shredded leaves.
The ideal time to mulch your strawberries is in late fall, once they have entered their dormant phase for the season. Examine the area near the crown of the plants, and if you don’t observe any new green growth, they are ready for mulching.
Potted Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants in pots are somewhat more vulnerable to freezing temperatures during winter compared to those planted directly in the ground. Unless you reside in an arid region with consistently warm winter temperatures, it’s imperative to shield potted strawberries from freezing.
However, it’s worth noting that the winter care routine is uncomplicated and clear-cut – provided you relocate them to a safe, sheltered area!