How to Maintain a Strawberry Bed

Managing pests and diseases, proper harvesting techniques, and occasionally renovating our strawberry bed are all important tasks to extend the longevity of our plants and our yield. Let's look at each of these.

Maintenance Tips for Long-Term Success of Strawberry Beds

Managing Runners

Regularly monitor your strawberry bed for runner production. To prevent overcrowding and maintain productivity, trim excess runners or transplant them to desired locations.

Transplant Rooted Runners

If your strawberry plants have produced runners (elongated stems with small plantlets), transplant them to fill in gaps in the bed or start new rows. Or, during the season move these runners into those blank spaces and allow them to naturally root in place. Trim the runner from the mother plant once the new plantlet has established roots.

Pest and Disease Management

Keep an eye out for common pests and diseases that affect strawberries:


Crown moth larvae or crown borers are white grubs that will hollow out the center of the crown as they feed. Remove and destroy infected plants. Set out traps for adult moths.

Slugs eat leaves and fruits. Exclude these pests by handpicking and destroying them, sprinkling diatomaceous earth around beds, or trapping them in shallow saucers of beer where they will drown.

Tarnished plant bugs are small green or brown bugs that feed on fruits and cause them to be distorted; cover plants with a floating row cover while the fruit is developing to exclude these pests.

Birds and deer feed on berries; cover planting beds with bird netting. Got mice? Use floating row covers until flowering begins, then cover again once the flowers have been pollinated to protect the developing fruit.


Gray mold (Botrytis blight) produces a fuzzy gray coating on blossoms and berries; remove and destroy damaged flowers and fruits; harvest fruits frequently before they become infected; spray plants with compost tea, a natural fungicide.

Red stele (root rot) causes plants to wilt. To check for red stele, dig up wilted plants; if there are no side roots or the roots are reddish inside when cut lengthwise, red stele is to blame. Remove and destroy infected plants. Plant stele-resistant cultivars such as ‘Allstar’, ‘Delite’, ‘Guardian’, ‘Surecrop’, and ‘Tristar’.

Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that causes older leaves to turn red or brown and young leaves to turn yellow and wilt. There is no cure; remove and destroy infected plants. Plant disease-resistant cultivars include ‘Allstar’, ‘Blakemore’, ‘Delite’, ‘Robinson’, ‘Surecrop’, and ‘Tristar’.

Leaf spot is a fungal disease that causes small brown or gray spots on leaves; leaf tissue deteriorates and dies; eventually, leaves will drop. Remove dropped leaves from plantings; clean beds at the end of each season. Plant disease-resistant cultivars include ‘Blakemore’, ‘Delite’, ‘Earlibelle’, and ‘Surecrop’.


Strawberries ripen about 30 days after flowering. Check plants every day; berries ripen quickly.

Pick berries when they are full-colored, tender, and sweet. Pinch off the stem when you harvest and avoid pulling the berry itself. Ripe berries along with their cap will separate easily from the stem.

If critters are getting to the harvest before you do, pick the berries early. Even with white tips strawberries will continue to ripen once inside.



Fruit can be refrigerated for a few days, not more than a week. Glass containers are good for this or clamshells with holes to allow them to breath; freeze berries for longer storage.

For longest storage, pick berries when the ends are slightly white; they will continue to ripen and will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Don’t leave rotting berries in the garden; dispose of them; removing rotting fruit will prevent the spread of disease.

Renovating the Beds

Every 2-3 years, renovate your strawberry beds to rejuvenate the plants and maintain vigor. After the last harvest of the season, mow or trim the foliage to a height of 1-2 inches. Then, thin out the bed by removing older plants and replanting new ones to ensure continuous production.

Proper maintenance of your strawberry bed should give you lots of delicious berries for years to come!

Not sure how to start a strawberry bed? This article teaches you how: How to Grow Strawberries 

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