Should I Cut The Leaves Off My Strawberry Plants?

There’s no reason not to have strawberry plants, no matter how big your yard is! This small, delicious fruiting tree doesn’t take up much space, and it’s easy to grow, requiring little effort to maintain. Even its pruning, which can be a bit complicated with other fruit trees, is quite simple and consists mainly of cleaning the foliage, to be repeated several times in the season.

Why and when should I cut the leaves of strawberry plants?

Faut-il couper les feuilles du fraisier ?

Description of the strawberry plant

The wild strawberry has been consumed in the northern hemisphere for a very long time, but it is the musk strawberry that was first cultivated (simply because the wild strawberry settles where it wants!) in France, until the end of the 15th century when the Virginia strawberry was brought to France from Canada. Then came the Chilean strawberry, and it is a cross between these 2 botanical varieties that gave birth to most of the strawberries we grow today.

The strawberry is an herbaceous plant, which belongs to the Rosaceae family, the family of roses, apple trees, plum trees, raspberry trees… It forms a rosette of large leaves divided into 3 oval and serrated lobes. In spring, and throughout the summer for the so-called “remontant” strawberry plants, it displays simple little white flowers with a yellow heart, quite characteristic of this family of plants. These flowers give fruits which in reality are not fruits: the strawberry is formed by the receptacle of the flower which expands, swells, excessively; the strawberry carries the real fruits of the strawberry plant, which are the small dry grains distributed in the small cells located on the surface of the strawberry.

Strawberry plants are divided into 2 groups:

non-remontant strawberry plants produce a large number of fruits between May and June,
remontant strawberry plants produce smaller quantities of strawberries several times a year. In general, the first production is spread out in late spring, stopping when the weather is very hot, then spreading out again until the first frost.

The remontant strawberry is most often planted between late summer and early fall, while the non-remontant prefers to be planted in spring. It thrives in well-drained soil, ideally clay-silica and neutral to slightly acidic pH. In compacted soil, it is wise to provide mounds for planting, which will keep water from stagnating and allow the soil to warm up more quickly in spring.

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You should plan a sunny to semi-shaded location for small fruit varieties or in southern regions.

As the strawberry plant is a greedy plant, you should prepare its bed by bringing in manure or well-decomposed compost one month in advance, as well as a basic fertilizer.

On the day of planting, you will soak the strawberry plant cups in a basin of water to eliminate air pockets between the soil and the roots. Place the drained strawberry plants 30 to 40 cm apart, making sure that the collar is flush with the surface. Pack the soil and at the same time form a small watering trough that you will fill with water once the planting is complete. Mulch, and you’re done!

Generally, you will renew your strawberry plants every 3 or 4 years, as their production reduces from year to year.

Strawberry maintenance

Strawberry plants are easy to grow, but you can help them with a few maintenance tasks such as hoeing and pruning, especially trimming the leaves.

Hoeing is a common maintenance procedure for strawberry plants. Indeed, the strawberry plant does not appreciate competition, and you should not let unwanted plants grow next to it, at least if you count on a good strawberry production! Hoeing is particularly important in the weeks following planting. Be careful, however, to hoe only superficially, so as not to damage the roots.

For the same reason, a well fertilized soil will bring the necessary nutrients to your strawberry plants so that they develop and produce generously. A soil rich in organic matter is more loose, better drained, and of course provides what it needs in minerals and trace elements. You can therefore mulch your strawberry plants with straw and grass clippings during the summer, and use leaves or decomposed compost in winter.

Watering is necessary during dry periods. Drip irrigation is recommended, especially in warmer areas.
In the southern regions of France, it is wise to provide a means of shading strawberry plants during the hottest hours.
Pruning the strawberry plant is also a maintenance gesture that can be very useful.

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Do strawberry plants need to have their leaves cut off?

Does a strawberry plant need to be pruned? Well yes, and in fact it is a common habit when it comes to the gourmands. But they are not the only “organs” of the strawberry plant that deserve, in due time of course, a little pruning! So how do you prune strawberry plants?

When strawberry plants are planted in spring, it is advisable to remove the flowering stems. This allows the plant to develop its root system before thinking about reproduction!

The flowering stems can also be cut short when the fruit on them has been picked. They will eventually dry out anyway.
At the beginning of the season, do not hesitate to remove the first flowers, the strawberry plant will then be more vigorous and productive.

Stolons, the famous “gourmands”, can be cut at any time during the vegetation period (i.e. between spring and fall). Indeed, they use energy that would be better used to produce strawberries! However, there are times when it is wise to keep them and even to pamper them so that they take root, they will close new strawberry plants, clones of the mother plants. Except for the variety ‘Mount Everest’ whose runners produce fruit!
How to prune strawberry plants before winter? At this time of year, it is wise to clean the plants of all dry or damaged parts.

What about the leaves?

Foliage can be pruned at several times during the strawberry’s growing season.

When the leaves are damaged by a disease, for example botrytis, which causes the foliage to turn brown and then rot, they must be removed immediately and burned. This can save the plant, so don’t hesitate.
Even outside the fall, it is recommended to remove the leaves when they dry, at any time.
Should I cut the leaves off my strawberry plants in the fall? The leaves can be removed at this time of year to better protect the plants in a region with very cold winters. The stumps will then be protected by ferns or pine needles.
The leaves of strawberry plants are always cut flush with the ground.


Should strawberry plants be cut back if they are tall or too large?

Just as some gardeners recommend cutting back the foliage on tomatoes at the end of the summer, some strawberry growers recommend doing the same for strawberry plants, to allow the strawberries to better benefit from the sun and heat.

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As with tomatoes, it is advisable to remove a lot of (green) leaves only at the very end of the season, when the fruits are already present. Therefore, cut only 1 or 2 leaves at a time, to open a luminous passage to the strawberries.

Indeed, the leaf surface has a major importance for the good functioning of the plant’s organism and the number/size of fruits. This leaf surface also has an influence on the production of fruits, which are less numerous but bigger when it is bigger!

Pruning fruit trees should not always be systematic, it is important to respect the plant. And the strawberry plant is no exception. The pruning of its runners, its flower stems or its foliage will depend on the period, the age of the plants, their condition… So should you prune the leaves of strawberry plants? You be the judge! If they are dried out, yes, they should be pruned, if your winters are very cold, yes, they should be pruned, in autumn, if the strawberry plant is sick, this can be a solution. But it is not mandatory!


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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