How to Overwinter Strawberries in 6 Easy Steps

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How to Overwinter Strawberries in 6 Easy Steps:- Are you trying to overwinter strawberries in your garden, but aren’t quite sure where to start? In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey walks through the entire process to overwinter strawberries to keep them alive and productive into next growing season.

Strawberry plants are popular and easy to grow. Native to North America, they adapt well to USDA zones 3–10. Strawberry production requires some refrigeration as a perennial fruit. Strawberry crowns can die in temperatures below 15°F if not protected. It’s crucial to take the right procedures to keep your strawberries fruitful throughout next season. To grow perennial strawberries in zones 7 or colder, follow these simple procedures to prepare them for a warm winter and abundant fruit in spring. Discover everything you need to know about strawberry patch winterization.

How to Overwinter Strawberries in 6 Easy Steps

Do Strawberries Need Protection From Frost?

  • Strawberry tops can freeze and die below 15°F without winter protection, even though strawberries are naturally cold-tolerant. They are vulnerable to ultra-cold northern conditions and have short roots. Strawberry frost protection is mainly only needed in zones 7 and colder.
  • Pruning, mulching, and an insulating cover or low tunnel can protect strawberries from cold winter weather. This begins in late October before plants dormancy. Your fall and winter actions will impact how many flowers and fruits your plants produce next year.
  • Note: Day neutral strawberries are engineered to burst with vigor in their first year. Some propose growing these kinds as annuals due to their price and availability.
  • Instead of winterizing day neutrals, many farmers mow or pull them and replant in spring for a healthier yield. These overwintering methods work best for June- and everbearing types.

Step 1: Renovate Beds & Prune Plants

  • Strawberry bed renovation means pruning and cleaning your strawberry patch. After the last berries are plucked and the temperature cools, give your plants some TLC. This coincides with late fall trimming of lavender, bee balm, catmint, daylily, and some fruit trees.
  • To improve airflow and spacing, clear overgrown areas before renovating beds. Most cultivars prefer 10-18” spacing, depending on maintenance. Remove runners that have rooted and invaded their mother plants.
  • Check any weedy rivals stealing agricultural resources and thoroughly weed the spot. Avoid pulling up plants with big weeds.

Step 2: Optionally, Fertilize in Late Fall

  • Fall strawberries will produce abundant berries the following spring with sufficient fertilizer. Many individuals are unaware that their plants grow fruit buds for the following season in autumn.
  • Fall fertilizer boosts bud and root growth for stronger plants. However, spring fertilizer can overgrow foliage and soften berries. Nitrogen should not be applied near to spring blossoming.
  • After pruning, apply an all-purpose fertilizer or rich compost to your beds in autumn. Balanced blends of 1.5 pounds per 100 feet work best.
  • A handful of Down to Earth 4-8-4 Rose and Flower blend at each plant’s base (not the crown) is typical. Organic fertilizers are healthier for strawberries because they release nitrogen slowly, preventing overproduction the following year.

Step 3: Apply Mulch

  • Mulching is easiest and most fun after renovating and fertilizing. Children throwing straw about the garden to give plants a “cozy jacket” for winter is fun.
  • Strawberry mulch should be pine or weed-free straw. If pathogen-free, dried deciduous leaves can be used.
  • Cover strawberry beds with 2-4 inches of mulch. Covering the crowns is fine because you may rake the mulch in spring.
  • Dormant plants may handle light frosts, but remember to mulch before 20°F.
  • Check the weather and apply sooner if necessary. The straw goes on after the plants go dormant and I prune.
How to Overwinter Strawberries in 6 Easy Steps
How to Overwinter Strawberries in 6 Easy Steps

Also See:- 10 Companion Plants to Grow with Chard

Step 4: Use a Row Cover if Needed

  • Extreme cold in zones 5 and colder may require further protection. The most popular winter protection for commercial strawberries is row cover. This woven fabric adds 2-8°F warmth and lets light in for early spring growth.
  • Some gardeners use low tunnel hoops for row cover, but I advocate laying it straight over the plants and sandbagging the margins every few feet. High winds or snowpack can rip cloth, thus this is crucial.

Step 5: Move Potted Strawberries

  • Fall pruning, renovating, and fertilizing are still needed for container strawberries. For extra protection, cover the pot with 4-6” of dense straw mulch.
  • Protecting the root zone is the most crucial winterizing procedure for container strawberries. Unlike soil-grown strawberries, container strawberries lack insulation. They must be fully warmed to protect the roots and crowns from frost damage in hanging pots.
  • This is usually done with bubble wrap. Wrap it around the pot base and relocate the plants to an unheated garage. Burlap, a blanket, or a soil-filled container can also be used.
  • Dormant plants don’t need sunshine, so moving them indoors until spring is easy. Make sure the potting soil doesn’t freeze or your strawberries won’t return.

Step 6: Keep Frost Protection Around

  • After putting strawberries to sleep for winter, you wait. You require reliable frost-free weather. Pre-plant soil temperature is over 40°F.
  • Check soil temperature with a probe. Remove frost blankets and row coverings gradually to let plants acclimate. If cold weather is still possible, don’t let your plants grow vulnerable new leaves and blossoms that could be damaged by a cold snap.
  • Removing strawberry frost protection should wait until the latest frost date. Then, lightly brush the mulch from the plant center tops using your hands or a rake.
  • When the weather is consistently warm and the plants are flowering, remove row cover or plastic to let bees pollinate your berries.
  • Containers follow the same rules. Around the latest frost date, remove the mulch and bring the plants outside. The pot bottom can be insulated until the weather settles.

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