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Care of a Strawberry Tree

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Care of a Strawberry Tree

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Overview

Strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo) are attractive, hardy trees that produce masses of white blooms in the spring, followed by red fruit that looks similar to strawberries. The fruit, while edible, is not considered tasty. For that reason, strawberry trees are most often planted as ornamental trees. These trees are perfect for urban landscapes, as they are small, slow-growing, and can tolerate pollution very well. Once established, they require very little care beyond cleaning up the mess their fruit creates.

Step 1

Choose a location to plant your strawberry tree that is exposed to full sun if you live in northern or cooler climates, and partial shade if you live in hot climates. Strawberry trees love bright light, but direct exposure to the hot afternoon sun on an ongoing basis can scorch the tree's leaves. Cold winds, especially in the winter, can also burn the leaves, so find a location that is protected from such winds.

Step 2

Keep the soil around your tree free of lime. Use a soil testing kit (available at any home or garden center) to determine how much lime is in the soil. Strawberry trees grow best in soil that has very little lime or is completely lime-free. For this reason, many home gardeners grow their strawberry trees in containers filled with lime-free potting soil.

Step 3

Water sparingly. These trees can survive a drought and prefer the soil to be on the dry side. Water only when the top 3 inches of the soil is dry to the touch. Container-grown trees have shorter roots, so they should be watered when the soil is dry to a depth of 2 inches.

Step 4

Decide how you want to prune your tree. The strawberry tree often grows as a bush, with three or more trunks. In this case, you will want to control the side growth by pruning it to your desired shape in the spring. If you want to train it to grow on one trunk, cut away any competing trunks or suckers yearly.

Tips and Warnings

  • Established strawberry trees have long taproots, making them very difficult to transplant. Once planted, a strawberry tree should not be moved unless absolutely necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Pruning tools

References

  • University of Florida: Arbutus Unedo: Strawberry Tree
  • Paghat's Garden: Strawberry Tree

Who Can Help

  • Let's Go Gardening: Strawberry Tree
Keywords: Arbutus unedo, grow strawberry tree, plant strawberry tree

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.