What should I do to overwinter strawberries

Hibernate & cut strawberries

Strawberries are perennial and can be successfully overwintered. In preparation for winter, it can be useful to cut the strawberries.

Strawberries (Fragaria) in the hobby garden ideally stay in the same bed for about three years. In order for the plants to produce good yields during these three years, they have to come back unscathed over the winter every year. Because the flowers of the strawberries are already formed in autumn, overwintering has a great influence on the yield for the next year. So-called single-bearing strawberry varieties are also overwintered. The 'once in foal' refers to the fact that it can only be harvested once per season.


Cut strawberries in preparation for winter

Freshly planted strawberries are not cut in the fall. For plant protection reasons, the leaves are removed from plants that have already borne fruit. This important measure before overwintering is used as a precautionary measure to remove leaves that are infested with fungal diseases that are not yet visible so that diseases do not spread. This "cleaning" of the strawberries should be done as soon as possible after the harvest and no later than mid / end of July. Leaves must not be removed from late-bearing varieties. The remaining vegetation time after harvest is too short for new leaves and flowers to form. Therefore, a cut after mid-July would have a negative effect on flower formation and the yield in the next year.

When removing the leaves, it is essential to ensure that the heart leaf remains undamaged. If this is guaranteed, the cutting can also be carried out with a lawnmower (set as high as possible) or a brush cutter. The leaves should not remain as mulch on the strawberry bed, after all, fungi can also survive on dead leaves and the cut would have lost its meaning. If you have a well-functioning compost heap that heats up strongly, you can put the leaves there. In addition to the leaves, all unnecessary tendrils and runners are also removed. After cutting, the strawberry fertilization is followed by covering the stubble around the plant (leaving the heart leaves free) with ripe compost or composted manure. The plants grow through the compost layer and have enough nutrients for flower formation.

Summary cutting strawberries:

  • The leaves of the strawberry plants are removed after the harvest or mid / late July at the latest
  • All plants with a late harvest are not cut
  • Heart leaves must not be damaged when cutting
  • Do not leave leaves lying in the bed as mulch, but remove them

Successfully overwintering strawberries

In the year of planting, the strawberry plants are still very small and particularly sensitive. So that they have a chance of growing well and successfully surviving the winter, the strawberries should be planted by mid-August at the latest. Both the roots and the flowers of the strawberry plants need to be protected from frost. The roots are not very deep, so they are not particularly well insulated. The flowers are particularly sensitive in spring and should therefore be protected from late frosts.

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Hibernate strawberries in a pot

Strawberries in pots or flower boxes have the advantage that they are mobile. They should be in a sheltered place over the winter, ideally near a house wall and on an insulating material (wood or styrofoam). In mild winter regions, these precautions for strawberry plants in pots should actually be sufficient. If you garden in endangered locations or want to play it safe, you should cover your plants with brushwood, straw or fleece, for example. However, straw should not cover all of the plants, as this harbors a moist microclimate that attracts fungi. This is why it is best to just put straw around the plants.

Brushwood is more breathable and can therefore be draped over the whole plant. Fleece can also be placed over the plants - it ensures adequate air and moisture exchange. With strawberry plants that are under a protective roof, you shouldn't forget to water a little on frost-free days. But watch out: Don't water too much, not that the water in the earth freezes in the next frost and damages the roots.

These products protect your plants from frost:
  • Thermo garden fleece: ideal for protecting your plants from cold and frost in winter. Can be cut to size individually.
  • Jute sack / blanket: Reliable protection against cold and frost made of 100% jute. Decorative natural fabric with a long service life.
  • Coconut mat: Excellent heat storage made from natural fibers. Breathable, weatherproof and durable.

Hibernate strawberries in the bed

Strawberries in the bed are exposed to their location without protection. That is why they look forward to planting them in beds that are not excessively exposed to the wind or are located in cold lakes. Since waterlogging in winter can lead to significant frost damage to the roots, this should also be taken into account when choosing a location and preparing the ground. In gardens that do not allow many alternatives and that are at risk of waterlogging due to the loamy soil, adding sand to the soil could provide better drainage.

Planting on hill beds or in raised beds approx. 40 cm high would also be options for being able to overwinter strawberries in poor soil locations without water-related damage. Depending on the region, the strawberry plants in the bed should be covered in the same way as those in the pot. Either with straw around the plants or with brushwood or fleece over the whole plant. In the spring, the frost protection should never be removed too early. Late cold spells or late frosts can otherwise cause major damage to the flowers. A black pistil is the typical symptom of flowers that have frozen to death. Unfortunately, they will no longer bear fruit.

Successfully protecting strawberries from frost:

  • Place pots and boxes in sheltered places
  • Do not forget to water pots in roofed places on frost-free days
  • Cover strawberry plants in pots or beds in cool regions with fleece or brushwood
  • Straw is also suitable as insulation, but should not be placed on the plants, but on the ground around the plants
  • Maintain frost protection until the last late frost, strawberry blossoms are very sensitive in spring

If you have successfully brought your strawberries through the winter, this article will provide you with 10 tips for a bountiful strawberry harvest.

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I study crop science and have always enjoyed gardening, even if my first attempts as a small child tended to be unsuccessful. With the expertise from my studies, I can now do almost anything - I find topics such as mixed culture, raised beds and composting particularly exciting.
Favorite fruits: cherries, plums and pears
Favorite vegetables: broccoli, Swiss chard and peas