The temperatures are starting to plummet, and that means it is time to prepare your strawberry plants for winter, whether you grow them in the ground, or in pots!
Strawberries are one of the easiest perennials to grow. But they do require a little preventive care before winter to ensure a healthy, productive crop the following year.
Here is a look at how to prepare your planted or potted strawberry plants to survive winter’s fury.
How To Prepare Strawberry Plants For Winter
Strawberries Planted In The Ground
Let’s first take a look at planted strawberries. First and foremost, all strawberry plants need to be protected from the cold.
For plants in the ground, that means applying a heavy 4 to 6″ thick mulch of straw, shredded leaves, or even pine needles in late fall.
When it comes to mulch, the key is choosing a material that allows for air to still get to the plants and roots below.
If using leaves, shredding is a better option that whole leaves. Whole leaves can become soggy and thick, and smother plants out.
Strawberries should be mulched in late fall, once they have gone dormant for the season. Check near the crown of the plants, and if there is no new green growth, they are ready to be mulched.
Should I Prune Or Cut Back Plants Before Mulching?
This question comes up often when it comes to caring for strawberries. One thing is for sure, never mow or prune back strawberry plants in the fall!
For one, next year’s fruit already set on the plants. And cutting them back at this point eliminates next year’s fruit. But it also leaves plants with little to no protection, and most likely will result in a total loss of the plants.
Cutting back or mowing off plants is an excellent idea to build vitality and strength in plants.
But it should only be performed after their last fruiting in the early summer, giving them time for regrowth before going into dormancy.
Potted Strawberry Plants
Potted strawberry plants are a bit more susceptible to the freezing temperatures of winter than those planted in the ground.
But with that said, winter care is pretty simple and straightforward as long as you bring them in out of harms way.
Unless you live in an arid climate with warm winter temperatures, potted strawberries need protection from freezing out.
How To Protect Potted Strawberry Plants
An unheated garage, barn, or shed are all great options for giving potted strawberries protection.
Bringing them out of the direct cold is a great start, but providing a little extra cover is a good idea. This can be done easily with a few different methods.
Placing pots inside a burlap sack, or wrapping them in burlap and then filling with straw will usually do the trick.
The burlap and straw provide protection, while still allowing the plants to breathe.
Another option is to place pots in a 5 gallon bucket and surround with straw or shredded leaves. If none of these options are available, you can also bury the pots in the soil outside, and cover with 6 inches of straw.
Once spring arrives, all potted plants can then be uncovered and brought back outdoors.
Be sure to not allow the soil in potted plants to completely dry out over winter. The plants still require moisture to survive, even in their dormant state.
Check soil every week or so and water as needed.
For more on growing strawberries, see our article, How To Plant And Grow Strawberries.
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