The Q&A Archives: Strawberry Care

Question: I have read that the cultivation of day neutral strawberries is different from other strawberries (June bearing and everbearing). How should I care for them? Please, be specific about cutting the flowers and the runners. I would have prefered to use the hill system and not the matted row system which means I would cut all the runners off. As they produce less runners than the regular strawberries, it looks like a good choice.

Answer: Day-neutral strawberries are unaffected by day length, are extremely productive, and bear from January through August in your warm-winter region. They do require pampering, however. They are fragile and sensitive to heat, drought, and weed competition. On the plus side, they produce few runners, so they shouldn't get out of control, or become so aggressive that they crowd one another out. Start by amending the planting bed with organic matter, spreading 3"-4" on top of the bed and tilling it or digging it in. Dig a hole deep enough so the roots will not be bend, and make a cone-shaped pile of soil on the bottom. Arrange the roots over the soil cone and gently fill the hole with loose soil. Hold the crown while you work to make sure it remains level with the soil line. You don't want the roots protruding from the soil, but you don't want the crown planted too deeply. Then firm the soil over the roots. In a row system, space your plants 7" apart in double, staggered rows. Remove all flowers for the first six weeks after planting and all runners during the first growing season. Side-dress with compost or well-rotted manure to help conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds. Renew your plants in the third year by replanting new plants produced by the runners in the second year. Strawberries need one inch of water per week, so be sure to water them regularly throughout the growing season.

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