Tips & Tricks

Maintain strawberry tree - fertilize and water properly


Anyone who owns a strawberry tree has a little exotic in the garden. To keep it that way, follow our care tips for watering and fertilizing.

The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is a real rarity in our latitudes. Create an eye-catcher on the balcony and terrace. You are sure to get curious looks because after all, strawberries don't actually grow on trees. Caring for the strawberry tree is surprisingly simple and straightforward. The plants from the Mediterranean are resistant and robust. The following care instructions tell you what you need to know to enjoy the exotic strawberry tree for as many years as possible.

Water the strawberry tree properly

Watering should not be neglected in the strawberry tree. The plants regularly need water, especially during the growth phase. Between the individual water additions, the earth may dry on but never dry out completely. Excessive watering should also be avoided, as the plants cannot tolerate waterlogging. So rather water a little less than overdo the watering. The strawberry tree can compensate for short-term fluid deficits via its leather-like leaves.

Tip: Strawberry trees should be watered with lime-poor water. Rain water or stale water are suitable. Tap water should rest for at least a week before using it for watering.

The plants also like an occasional shower from above. A downpour cannot harm the strawberry tree. The strawberry tree can also be spoiled with soft water from the plant sprayer.

Strawberry tree watering tips in brief:

  • water regularly
  • keep evenly moist
  • do not allow to dry out completely
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • use lime-poor water

Properly fertilize the strawberry tree

The nutritional needs of the strawberry tree are comparatively low. During the growing season, however, the plant is grateful for fertilizers. Administer commercially available liquid fertilizers in low concentrations at 14-day intervals. Container plants have a higher nutrient requirement than the strawberry tree in the field, which can get enough water and nutrients from the roots. Outdoor plants receive a substrate upgraded with compost or horn shavings. Regular mulching keeps the moisture in the soil longer.

Key tips for fertilizing strawberry trees:

  • regularly during the growth phase
  • Use liquid fertilizer for green and flowering plants
  • Mulch bed plants regularly
  • Enrich the substrate with compost or horn shavings

Cutting a strawberry tree - what should you watch out for?

On closer inspection, there are different views on this topic. Recent German-language publications advise not to prune strawberry trees much. So actually only use scissors when the growth is particularly dense and the branches no longer receive sufficient light. Here, one refers primarily to the plants in the bucket, which only have a decorative look.

Cultivated outdoors, it looks more like older specimens will grow behind if you don't prune them regularly. The strawberry tree makes no difference compared to conventional fruit trees. So you can read in English-language publications of a regular pruning of the strawberry tree. The right date is difficult to find for laypeople. If you cut after flowering and fruiting, there is a risk of the new shoots freezing to death. If the tree pruning is done in spring, it can happen that the hobby gardener unintentionally removes the buds already attached to the old wood. The cut of the strawberry tree should therefore better be left to a specialist.

Some types of the strawberry tree are presented

Strawberry tree Artdescription
American strawberry treeThe American strawberry tree occurs in the northwest of the continent and is one of the few deciduous trees there.
The evergreen trees can grow up to 40 meters in height and reach a proud age of more than 200 years.
The trees have protruding crowns and shiny leaves that stand out due to their purple color in early summer.
American strawberry trees bloom between March and May.
Canarian strawberry treeThis species comes from the Canary Islands of Tenerife, Gomera and Gran Canaria.
The trees reach stature heights of around 15 meters.
The red-brown, peeling bark is characteristic of this strawberry tree.
The flower color can range from whitish to greenish and pink.
The berries reach a diameter of about three centimeters and have a tasty meat.
Eastern strawberry treeThe Eastern Strawberry Tree is a rather short-lived species with growth heights of up to five meters.
The trunk and branches are surrounded by a reddish-brown bark, which peels off in a plate shape.
The white, bell-shaped flowers appear between February and April.

Detect diseases and avoid nursing mistakes

Strawberry trees are extremely robust. Diseases rarely occur and pest infestation is rare. If the location is too humid and too shady, leaf blotch disease can occur. The leaf blotch disease manifests itself by brown spots on the leaves. The hobby gardener should think about a change of location.

Aphid infestation can occur in spring. The pests can be removed quite well with a core soap solution. Chemical pest control should be avoided, especially if you want to use the berries.

Help, yellow leaves on the strawberry tree!

If the strawberry trees are transplanted, yellow leaves are not uncommon. The yellow leaves are an indication of increased leaf dropping. This is actually normal for evergreen plants because the leaves are constantly renewing themselves. The leaf fall can increase due to the stress suffered during transplanting, watering errors or location problems. This in itself is no cause for concern, as long as new shoots continue to appear, the plant will recover quickly.

Where are the berries?

Many hobby gardeners know the problem, the strawberry tree has blossomed quite well, but the fruits can often be counted on one hand. So what happened? Strawberry trees bloom in our latitudes at a season when there is hardly any insect flight. Pollination becomes a problem. If you want a rich harvest, you may have to be active yourself. With the help of a brush, the pollen can be transferred from one flower to the next.

Tip: It can take between five and ten years for the strawberry tree to bear fruit for the first time.