The Q&A Archives: Interplanting Annuals in Strawberry Beds

Question: This is the first spring in our new house and we discovered to our delight that the previous owners had planted
a strawberry bed. Unfortunately this bed is about the only sunny spot for annuals. My questions are 1) what happens to the strawberry foliage when it stops bearing fruit - does it die down, should we mow the leaves down,
or just leave them and 2) can I interplant some flowering annuals such as cosmos or zinnias in with the

Answer: Strawberry beds should be renewed every 3 years or so, and new plants often come from the older plants as they set runners. As a result, strawberry plants need lots of room to grow and sprawl out and you may inhibit this natural renewal if you interplant with annuals. Since you have an existing strawberry bed, here's how to manage it: Spread mulch, such as straw, over the bare soil. This will help hold in moisture and suppress weeds. As each plant develops runners and baby plants, brush away the mulch so the new plants can take root. At the end of the season you can cut the running stem from both the parent and the baby plant and either transplant the new plant or leave it where it has taken root. At the end of the season, after fruit development stops, mow the foliage down and remove it from the garden. Begin inspecting your plants this summer, culling those that are old and replacing them with one of the new plants. Strawberry plants that are not as productive as they could be, or those with diseased foliage should be removed and destroyed, to keep your strawberry patch healthy and in full production. By allowing new plants to develop, you'll be renewing your bed constantly and can expect a good crop of berries each year.

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