How to grow the Strawberry tree - Arbutus unedo

The Strawberry Tree (sometimes known as the Irish or Killarney Strawberry Tree) - Arbutus unedo is a gorgeous, evergreen tree from the Ericaceae family. Despite its Ericaceae background, the strawberry tree is surprisingly lime tolerant.

There are a number of cultivars available notably 'Elfin King', 'Integerrima', 'Quercifolia' and 'Rubra'.

Strawberry tree bark
You can plant the strawberry tree in October, or if you miss this opportunity from March to May, in a moist but well-drained soil. While Arbutus unedo and it cultivars are known to be lime tolerant, they will still perform best in a good, lime-free, loam. However, despite being in the ericaceae family they have proven to be surprisingly tolerant of chalky and limey soils. They will need a sunny position but keep them a sheltered position away from cold northern and eastern winds.

Be aware that the young plants can be particularly tender and will require winter protection of bracken or straw. Once they have established they will be able to withstand greater cold and exposure.

You should not prune your strawberry tree as this can quickly ruin its ornamental habit, although straggly shoots may be cut back to the main stems in April.

Sadly, Arbutus can be prone to fungal leaf spot diseases, which can ruit their appearance and, in severe cases, lead to leaf drop and stem dieback. Shop bought fungicides are readily available but these will not cause the spots to disappear. However in time these damaged leaves will drop and hopefully replaced during the spring.

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