Here's When You Should Remove Blossoms From Strawberry Plants For A Juicy Harvest

Tucking sets of baby strawberry plants into a carefully prepared bed is one of the most hopeful feelings a gardener experiences. Knowing that these leafy clusters will regale you with sun-warmed fruit that tastes better than anything you can find in a grocery store is enough to make you count the days until your first harvest. Yet, like every other seed and sprout in your garden, you're in for a good chunk of time before enjoying a home-grown feast. You shouldn't plan to harvest your strawberry plants in their first season and, perhaps counterintuitively, it's actually better to remove any buds that grow. Holding off on a strawberry crop that first year may be the key to your best yield ever down the road.

After investing the money and time to set up a strawberry garden, you'll want to do all you can to get a generous return. Weeding, mulching, composting, and watering are to be expected to get what you're waiting for. Along with all the other ways you grow and care for your strawberry plants, consider snipping back their first flowers as time well spent.

What are the benefits of removing strawberry blossoms from plants?

There are so many tips for when to plant strawberries for a happier and healthier plant, and newly planted strawberries have a lot of work to do. There are leaves to grow, a root system to establish, and of course, delicious fruit to produce. Any gardener can tell you that patience is a virtue, and a strawberry bounty is well worth the wait. It might feel counterintuitive or even a waste of time to snip flowers from your plants, but experts at Iowa State University back up the practice. They caution that allowing buds to grow and fruit to set during a plant's first growing season may reduce overall plant growth and even crops in future seasons. If the plant is investing all of its energy creating flowers, it isn't giving itself time to set up robust roots and leaves.

By giving first-season plants some time to settle in, you're likely to have a bigger payoff at a later date. Pinching off blossoms is said to give your newest garden inhabitants time to bulk up for a healthy future by putting out more runners (baby strawberry plants growing off of shoots from the original plant), and can up your chances for a bumper crop next year. 

When is the best time to remove the blossoms?

Although it might pain you, snip away any and all buds that appear during your plants' first season. Check on them weekly during the first month or two of the growing season, plucking off any flowers that appear. June-bearing strawberries tend to taper off from flowering by early July. If you have everbearing or day-neutral varieties, continue your weekly pruning until early July. After that point, you can allow blooms to develop into fruit.

Along with removing flowers, add renovation to your summer task list. Renovation is the process of trimming back or mowing down the plants' foliage to encourage new growth. The Iowa State University extension recommends doing this before August 1. Even if your plants are in their first year, trimming them can get rid of insects or diseases and ensure a better crop next season. Hopefully, you'll be harvesting your garden's strawberries with enough to share!