How to pinch strawberry plant flowers and train runners
The content of this article was prepared by the University of Minnesota and has been revised and republished by FreshFruitPortal.com.
Spring of planting year
After planting, pinch off any flower buds that appear for the first few weeks. This allows the plant to produce leaves and roots so when the flowers are pollinated and begin to produce fruit there is enough energy in the plant to develop large, juicy strawberries.
As runners begin to appear, place them where you want the plants to fill in and gently press the end of the runner into the soil. This will encourage the daughter plant to root where you want it to. If the plants are running too much, simply cut them off with a scissors or pruning shears.
- Continue to water plants.
- Thin out plants, leaving remaining plants about 6 to 8 inches apart.
- Remove older, woody plants and leave the younger plants for next year.
- Fertilize with compost around the plants to keep them growing through the season.
Day neutral plants flower and fruit throughout the summer. If plants are not growing well, applying compost along the side of the plants will give them a boost of nitrogen. Other organic fertilizers such as blood meal can be used too.
Place or remove runners throughout the season, or they will quickly take over your garden.
June-bearing strawberry plants continue to grow and produce runners until the frost kills the leaves. Keep removing runner plants if there is a lot of crowding.
After the plants have entered dormancy due to cold temperatures, and the temperatures are staying below 40°F, straw mulch should be applied about 4 to 6 inches over the top of the plants. This mulch will protect the plants from extreme winter cold so they will emerge again next spring.
Most day neutral varieties are not quite hardy enough to over-winter in Minnesota, but it may be worth a try. Cover these with straw just as you would June-bearing plants.
Winter is the time strawberry plants will rest, so there isn't much for you to do. A good snow cover on top of the straw mulch will help insulate the plants from bitter cold temperatures, so enjoy watching that snow pile up!
After raking straw mulch off in the spring, keep the straw mulch between and under plants to help retain soil moisture, prevent weeds, and give the berries a nice clean surface on which to ripen.
Spring of the second year and beyond
Straw mulch applied to protect plants from winter cold should be removed when the snow and ice melts completely.
This winter mulch makes a great summer mulch too. Rake the straw off the plants and leave it between them to help conserve water and keep weeds down as the temperatures begin to rise.