How to Protect Your Strawberries in Winter (Guide 2022)

No summer is complete without fresh, juicy strawberries. It is, therefore, important to protect the plants from low-temperature injury during winters so they can return with vigor each spring. Providing great care to your strawberry plants helps you enjoy a good crop the following year.

This guide is here to help people looking for a low-maintenance approach to planting and caring for strawberries in winters, so they can yield a sweet crop year after year.

Let’s get started!


Do strawberries need to be winterized?

Strawberry is a low-profile but challenging crop. However, with a little pre-winter TLC, you can enjoy a delicious yield in the coming summer.

Like any other plant, strawberries require an optimal climate. Strawberry plants require a temperature ranging from 32°F to 45°F for optimal growth and production.

However, in areas with colder temperatures, these plants need protection in order to survive and stay healthy for the summer.

Strawberries tend to suffer an injury in the crowns if the temperature gets down to 15°F or below. So, if you live in a region with a cold climate, it is essential to take some proactive measures, so your plants can survive the coldest months without being desiccated.

Protect Your Strawberries in Winter

Why is it important to winterize strawberry plants?

Protection from chilled winters is essential to ensure a yield of juicy strawberries in the coming year. The best thing is that winterizing these plants is neither difficult nor expensive. That means you can make the most out of the crop with just a little care. Before jumping to the winterizing process, let’s see why it is important to winterize those tiny plants.

Avoid damage to spring’s buds

By the time winter arrives, strawberry plants have already grown buds from the following spring’s flowers. While these buds bloom into beautiful flowers in optimal temperature conditions, temperatures below 15° F can cause fatal damage to these buds, thereby destroying your crop. That’s why it is necessary to winterize these strawberry plants, so they can survive the tough temperature and stay healthy.

Heaving

Another reason for winterizing strawberry plants is to inhibit heaving. This term refers to the spontaneous uprooting of plants due to repeated freezing and thawing of the soil. The soil shift tends to push plants up, putting the plant at risk in several ways.

Firstly, the uprooting can expose the plants’ crown to the freezing air temperatures that diminish it. Plus, they are likely to get attacked by hungry critters searching for a winter meal.

In addition, heaving can lead to damaged or broken roots. This leads to the complete removal of these roots from the soil, which ultimately results in plant death. Effective winterizing can prevent strawberry plants from heaving.

Retain moisture

As mentioned above, temperature fluctuations result in freezing and thawing of the soil, which puts plant roots at the risk of damage. Due to uprooting, the plant crown is exposed to the drying air, which can alter the moisture level. This part of the strawberry plants is extremely crucial as it gives rise to the stem. Winterizing these plants helps keep them from drying out and staying healthy for the spring’s crop.

When should you winterize strawberry plants?

The best time to winterize strawberry plants is when the plants become dormant, and the temperature starts getting cold enough to cause damage. The dormancy period of strawberry plants varies and depends on the daylight conditions and temperature in your area.

Strawberry plants generally enter dormancy as the days become shorter in the winters. However, they fully become dormant when the temperature falls below freezing for multiple nights in a row. You will know when the stage has arrived by simply looking at the plants. They look dead with wilted vegetation.

When should you winterize strawberry plants


Types of Strawberry plants

There are mainly three types of strawberry plants grown in different parts of the world. Each of them has a different time and duration of fruiting.

June-bearing varieties

This type of plant produces a monster crop once a year. Depending on your zone, the duration might vary; however, the typical fruiting season is in June. They form buds in winters, bloom to full glory in spring, and produce a juicy crop in June every year.

Ever-bearing varieties

Ever-bearing varieties produce modest-sized crops three times a year. They form buds when the days are long and start producing when there are 12 hours of daylight. Though the crop is not huge, these plants continue bearing until the end of summer.

Day-neutral varieties

These strawberry plants tend to produce three crops throughout the growing season. This happens in three peak periods, including early June, mid-July, and late August. The only crucial factor is temperature, as the plants only bear fruit if the temperature does not go below 35° F or over 85° F.

Steps to winterize strawberry plants

Strawberry plants need preparation to survive frosty winters and produce a great harvest in the coming year. Here is a detailed step-by-step guide to preparing your strawberry plants for winter.

how to protect strawberry

Renovation

After harvesting the last summer-fruiting strawberries, the plants need some renovation to get ready to survive winter. This process includes trimming and removal of debris.

Trimming

For June-bearing varieties, once the crop is harvested, you need to cut the plants back to three inches. You can use hedge clippers or pruning shears for this purpose. This helps the plant to direct its energy back into the roots. It also creates the space for the development of new shoots before the plant enters dormancy.

For a large strawberry patch, you can trim the plants using a lawnmower with the blade set to the required height. However, you need to be careful while trimming this patch, as mowing the area more than once a week risks damage to the new leaves.

Removal of weeds and debris

Any damaged, pest-infested or diseased part of the plant should be removed in the case of ever-bearing and day-neutral varieties of strawberry plants. You may even have to remove an entire plant if required. Discard all runners in order to prevent the growth of unwanted plants. Remove all the dead leaves and any weed.

Some gardeners use straws to protect the plants from dirt and pests in early summer; however, leaving the straw surrounding the bases in winters can make the patch a breeding ground for pests and diseases. This is why it is important to remove the summer straw mulch while preparing the plants for winterizing.

Fertilize

The next step includes applying a feed such as a fertilizer to the strawberry plants at least one month before the first frost. This will help the plant grow and develop new stems before going into dormancy.

The optimal time is in late summer or early frost. Any later than this would lead to the tender growth of the plant due to the frost.

Water

Once the plants are renovated and ready to be winterized, you need to water them until the first frost. In case there’s no rainfall, make sure to provide one inch of supplemental water. When the plant enters dormancy in winters, there is no need for supplemental irrigation.

However, you may need to provide minimal water to the plants growing in containers and placed in cold sheds. This is important to prevent the soil from drying out.

Mulch after the first frost

This is the last step towards winterization. In areas with harsh winters, applying a two to three-inch layer of mulch around the plants is always a good idea. This will provide insulation and protect roots from ground frosts. Additionally, it helps in retaining the moisture for a healthy crown while keeping the cold at bay during fluctuating temperatures.

Before applying mulch, you need to make sure that plants have entered dormancy as an early application may raise the ground temperature, giving rise to new growth. After the first frost, the ideal time to apply mulch is in late November and early December.

Straw and pine needles are excellent choices for mulching. Simply drop these around and cover all the visible foliage to the edges of beds.

Steps to winterize strawberry plants


Best Products for Growing Strawberry Plants

Now that you are familiar with the process of winterizing strawberry plants, let’s have a look at some of the best products for planting strawberries available on the market.

1. S-Pone Strawberry Seeds – Top Pick

Style: Raw strawberry seeds

Application: Home garden

Size: 0.317 ounces

Treatment Area: 250 pieces per pack

Plant your own berries in the garden, so you don’t have to buy them from the market. The S-Pone strawberry seeds are an excellent choice for the ever-bearing plant variety. You can’t go wrong with these seeds.

Pros

  • Suitable for home garden
  • Easy to use and care
  • Good germination

2. ALEXI Strawberry Seeds – Runner Up

Style: Raw strawberry seeds

Application: Outdoor

Size: 0.176 ounces

Treatment Area: 50 pieces per pack

You can use these organic seeds in USDA agricultural zones from 2 to 10. All the seeds are fresh and sealed to provide maximum protection. Get these seeds for red, juicy, and delicious strawberries.

Pros

  • Non-GMO and completely organic
  • Suitable for outdoor use
  • High yield and germination

3. Seeds of Strength Strawberry seeds – Value for Money 

Style: Raw strawberry seeds

Application: Home garden

Size: 0.493 ounces

Treatment Area: 300 pieces per pack

These seeds do well in full sunlight and even in partial sunlight to provide a good yield. They come in great packaging, so you don’t have to worry about extreme environmental conditions. Just spread them in a pot or your home garden and wait for them to produce tasty, red berries.

Pros

  • Can acclimate to outdoor conditions gradually
  • Grows even in partial sunlight
  • Budget-friendly pack

4. S-Pone White and Red Strawberry Seeds – Best Two in One Pack 

Style: Raw strawberry seeds

Application: Home Garden, Outdoor

Size: 1.44 ounces

Treatment Area: 200+ pieces per pack

The seeds are nicely packed and contain all nutrients to grow into tall strawberry plants. All you need is to water and care for them, and they will reward you with red, juicy strawberries in the coming season.

Pros

  • Pack includes both white and red strawberry seeds
  • Suitable for both home garden and outdoor use
  • Organic and Non-GMO

Conclusion

People living in cold climates need to protect their strawberry plants in winters a little extra as the cold injury could be really problematic for the buds. Winterizing your strawberry plants includes renovation, fertilization, water, and mulch application so they can easily withstand harsh winter conditions.

Make sure to pay attention to your little plants in fall, so you can harvest a heap of delicious strawberries when spring arrives.

Berry on!

FAQ

Will strawberries survive winter?

Since strawberries are cold and hardy, they can survive mild winter in most parts of the world. However, areas with harsh winters require them to be winterized in the fall so they can stay healthy for the coming spring.

How do you prepare strawberries for winter?

Preparing strawberries for winter includes four major steps. The plants are first renovated by removing all dead parts, then fertilized and watered, and then mulch is applied.

How do you revive strawberries after winter?

As the winter passes, simply remove the winterizing mulch from the strawberry beds. This will allow the growth to continue in the spring.

Will potted strawberries survive winter?

Yes, potted strawberries can easily survive the winter if cared for properly. Just put them in your garage or a cold shed and mulch with a few inches of straws so the temperature fluctuation won’t force them up.

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