The Q&A Archives: Thinning Strawberry Plants

Question: I planted strawberrries two years ago as starts. The first year, I snipped off the flowers in order to induce better growth and roots. This year, they bore a very good harvest of fruit. I would like to know how much I should thin the adult plants in order to get a good harvest next year. I notice that the rootstock has propagated itself so that three or four (sometimes as many as six) plants are growing from the same stock. Should these be cut so that only one or two plants are growing from one stock?

Answer: Strawberry beds should be renewed about every three years to keep production high. You can use the plants that develop on runners for new plant stock. Cut the runners and dig the plants, then transplant them to a new bed. Or, remove some of the older plants and allow the new plants to grow in their places. Now that your plants have finished producing for the season, mow them down to remove the old leaves and encourage new leaves to grow (a lawnmower set on the highest setting works well). Remove the debris from the bed, cut the runners to those plants that have rooted on their own, remove some of the old parent plants, replant the new ones in their places, and share excess plants with neighbors - or start a new bed. As long as you renew the bed every few years, you'll have a great yield of strawberries each summer.

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