How to Grow Arbutus unedo Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Strawberry Tree

Native to the Mediterrenean region, Arbutus Unedo is an evergreen tree of the family Ericaceae, making it related to cranberries, huckleberries, and blueberries.

The tree, which grows up to 30 feet (9 m) high, produces bunches of fruits that resemble strawberries, resulting in it commonly being referenced as a 'Strawberry tree'.

Strawberry tree
Arbutus unedo, Strawberry Tree photograph by Miltos Gikas.

Although the trees don’t produce much, their semi-sweet fruits are used in cooking, wines, and preserves.

The tree also develops a red, strawberry-like colour to its bark during its development, which often gives gardens and landscapes a unique look.

Arbutus unedo leaves
Arbutus unedo leaves, image by Manuel m. v.; CC.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Strawberry Tree

Arbutus Unedo can grow to resemble either a shrub or a tree, and typically grows in soils which are normally unfavourable for other plants. Moist and high pH soils are the most ideal for plant growth.

Once Arbutus Unedo reaches maturity, it’s incredibly drought resistant.

Strawberry trees are generally low-maintenance plants and don’t require too much work to grow properly.

However, they can be adversely affected by cold weather, so it is usually a good idea to have plants covered in some way during the winter months.

Sunlight can also be an issue as the trees much prefer having lots of sun exposure, so placement of the plant near an heavily-shaded area should be avoided.

Pruning isn’t necessary most of the time, but if unwanted overgrowth is detected, then prune during late winter or spring.

Sometimes, fungal diseases or parasitic insects can negatively affect branches, causing them to decay or infected, this necessitates them being removed to prevent spread to other parts of the plant.

Strawberry Tree
Strawberry Tree photograph by Leonora (Ellie) Enking; CC.

Arbutus unedo Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Arbutus unedo
  • Common Name: Strawberry tree
  • Growing Zone: USA: 7 to 11
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Tree

Plant Details

  • Plant Height (Inches): 180 to 300
  • Plant Spread (Inches): 180 to 300
  • Time of Bloom: Autumn and winter
  • Flower Details: Pink, White
  • Leaf Foliage: Green
  • Fruit:
  • Growth Form: Rounded

Ideal Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Partially shady to full sunlight
  • Rate of Growth: Grows slowly
  • Suitable Soil Types: Acidic, Alkaline, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy, Slightly alkaline, Well drained
  • Soil Moisture: Moist

Caring Conditions

  • Care:
  • Level of Maintenance: Medium
  • Propagation: Seedandsemi-hardwoodcuttings
  • How to Prune: Requires little to no pruning. In some cases hard pruning can be disruptive.
  • Pests: Aphids
  • Diseases: Arbutus leaf spot may be a problem

Further Information

  • Can Attract:
  • Tolerant of: Drought
  • Best Garden Use: Container, Espalier, Areas requiring pest tolerance, Hedge, Standard, Specimen
  • Family: Ericaceae
  • Closely Related Species: Heather, Cheilotheca. Cosmelia.

  • Miscellaneous: Entices birdlife to the garden, Non-native to North America, Attractive flowers / blooms
  • Genus Detail: Arbutus
  • Further Reading and References: Here and SFBG guide to Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo flower fruit
Blooming Arbutus unedo flowers with fruit in the background, photograph by Bri Weldon; CC.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Arbutus Unedo. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Gaultheria procumbens and Pieris japonica.