Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) Care Guide and tips

Read through our Strawberry Tree care guide and learn everything you need to know on how to look after Arbutus unedo.

A beautiful and interesting tree. Lovely cinnamon brown stem and evergreen glossy leaves. White flowers and showy red strawberry-like fruit. A hardy drought tolerant tree for a sunny position.

Care tips

  • Position: Full sun. Sheltered.
  • Watering: Water regularly but sparingly during growing season. Do not overwater. Water less during winter, only make sure the root ball does not dry out.
  • Hardiness: Hardy but protect from cold drying winds and hard frost (below -5°C). Mature Strawberry trees can withstand lower temperatures but frost damage may occur. Remove brown and withered leaves from frost damaged trees in spring and they normally recover quickly with new growth.
  • Pruning: Prune into shape in spring/summer. Any necessary hard pruning in spring and only light pruning in summer. Be careful not to prune forming fruit from autumn's flowers if you would like them to mature into the red fruit in autumn.
  • Soil: Well-drained. Fertile. Repot every two to three years. Be careful when repotting to avoid damaging the sensitive root system.
  • Feeding: During growing season top dress regularly with organic fertiliser or with slow release fertiliser granules. There is no need for plant feed during the winter period. Avoid high concentration of fast acting liquid fertiliser.

Strawberry Tree Information

  • Also called: Cane apple, Killarney strawberry tree
  • Foliage: Evergreen. Dark green leathery leaves.
  • Flowers: Bell-shaped white or pale pink in autumn.
  • Fruit: Red strawberry-like fruits maturing 12 months after flowering, so they bear fruit and flower at the same time. Arbutus unedo comes from 'unum edo' in Latin, meaning 'I eat one' but the Portuguese use the berries to make a fruit brandy called Medronho.
  • Award of Garden Merit (AGM): This award indicates that the plant is recommended by The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
  • Symbolism: One of the oldest depictions of Arbutus unedo must be the beautiful garden fresco in the House of the Golden Bracelet in Pompeii. The strawberry tree also appears in the painting 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' by Hieronymus Bosch and in the Coat of arms of Madrid 'The Bear and the Strawberry Tree'.
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The Portuguese use the berries to make a fruit brandy called Medronho.
Arbutus Unedo Buxus Cone
Arbutus Unedo Leaves

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