How to Control Strawberries on a Strawberry Tree

Overview

The strawberry tree is an evergreen broadleaf shrub or tree with a spreading crown that is not to be confused with the strawberry plant. The bark is flaky and varies between gray and reddish brown. The height ranges from 8 to 30 feet high and can develop gnarled branches at an older age. When the strawberry tree blooms, small pink flowers put forth large red bumpy fruit that takes a year to ripen. Strawberry trees are ideal as ornamental plants, and thrive in wet Mediterranean climates. Whether you want to control the growth of strawberries or eliminate the fruit completely from the tree, the key thing to remember is to to prune the tree properly.

Step 1

Wait a couple of years for a young strawberry tree to gain stability at its roots. Be patient, and don't remove any shoots that pop up for at least a year and a half, if not two years. At this point, it is crucial for you to trim the shoots to make the structure solid and the growth healthy.

Step 2

Water strawberry trees sparingly. Not only are they drought tolerant, but they prefer dry soil and too much water will make it grow out of control. Water the tree only when the top 3 inches of the soil is dry to the touch.

Step 3

Control the strawberry growth best by pruning the tree, which will cut back excessive growth each year. It often starts as a bush with two to three trunks, so prune it to your desired shape each spring season. To shape it into a tree, use the shears to prune off the suckers, smaller weaker trunks and competing trunks to let air circulation and sunlight reach into the tree.

Step 4

Cut back much more growth if you wish to train it to one large trunk. This means you need to cut away not only all the suckers and small or large branches, but also all the grown on the bottom half of the tree.

Step 5

Eliminate strawberries on the tree completely by consistently pruning back the branches that are flowering at any time during the year. The flowers are what produces the fruit, so cutting these away ensures no fruit production.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Water

References

  • University of Florida: Strawberry Trees
  • Floridata: Arbutus Unedo
  • Backyard Gardener: Arbutus Unedo
Keywords: growing strawberries, controlling strawberry growth, strawberry patch problems

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.