- Growing Tips For Strawberry Plants
- How to Plant Strawberries
- How to Maintain Strawberries
- Grow your own strawberries
- About strawberries
- What to do
- Five to try
- Strawberry Growing Guide
- Top 10 Tips for Growing Strawberries
- Edible Landscaping – Growing Strawberries in Small Spaces
- Don’t be afraid: You can grow strawberries at home
Growing Tips For Strawberry Plants
with Heather Rhoades
Just about anyone who has bitten into a juicy, sweet strawberry has wondered how to grow a strawberry patch. The idea of having a steady supply of berries from a bed of strawberry plants is tempting and, fortunately, growing strawberries is easy and fun. All you need are some growing tips for strawberries, and tricks to make sure that your strawberry patch keeps you in a steady supply of yummy berries.
How to Plant Strawberries
There are three types of strawberry plants: June bearing, which fruits in June; spring bearing, which provides fruit early in the season; and everbearing, which will fruit all summer long.
If you want to know when to plant strawberries, you’ll plant them as soon as the ground is workable in the spring, with March or April being best time in most areas. This gives them ample time to get established before the warm weather.
If you are wondering how to plant strawberries, do it on a cloudy day. This is so that the plants do not wilt while you are planting them and before you get to the point where you can water them. Do not cover the crown of the plant with dirt. Just barely cover the roots. After planting them, make sure you water them. This gives them a great start.
There are different ways to plant your strawberries:
- First, there is a matted row system. In this system, the plants should be set about 18 to 30 inches (46-76 cm.) apart and rows should be about 3 feet (.91 m.) apart. This allows the daughters to roam throughout the garden area set aside for strawberries. When taking care of strawberries, leave these daughters alone so they can form. This is best for June and spring bearing plants since the more daughters the better.
- If you are planting everbearing strawberries, you’ll want to use the hill system. This system doesn’t allow for daughters, and everbearing grows bigger strawberries, which require one main plant.
Growing Tips for Strawberry Plants
Here are some helpful tips to bear in mind when growing strawberry plants:
- Sun – The number one tip on how to grow strawberries is that they need sun. Make sure that the spot you choose for your strawberry plants get plenty of full sun. Many strawberries produce their blossoms in the early spring. Making sure that they are in a sunny spot will help keep late frosts from killing off those blossoms. Plus, the more sun strawberry plants get, the bigger and better the strawberries they produce.
- Drainage – Another good tip is to make sure where you plant them has good drainage. If your yard is clay-heavy or does not have good drainage, you’ll want to consider either creating a mound of your strawberry plants to grow on or building a raised bed for your strawberries.
- Compost – Compost is another key to growing a strawberry patch that produces big, sweet berries. Make sure that the soil has been fully amended with good compost and composted manure.
- Space – Strawberry plants like to spread out. If you give the strawberry plant runners room, they’ll spread and create more strawberry plants for next year.
- Pinching – I know it can be hard, but with most strawberry plants you will want to pinch the blossoms and strawberry plant runners the first year. This will ensure that your strawberries develop a good root system and will be better able to grow the best strawberry possible.
When the berries on your strawberry plants turn red, you’ll know they are ripe. You can pick these strawberries at that time, going out every other day or so to look for new strawberries before the slugs get them.
How to Maintain Strawberries
Welcome to Homegrown/Homemade, a video series from FineGardening.com and our sister site FineCooking.com. We’ll be following a gardener (Danielle Sherry) and a cook (Sarah Breckenridge) as they plant, maintain, harvest, store, and prepare food crops. Strawberries are a favorite fruit for the home gardener, and Sarah eagerly awaits the first crop.
Episode 2: How to Maintain Strawberries
The best thing you can do for your newly planted strawberries is to remove all flowers and runners for the first six weeks. That will allow the plants to put their energy into growing strong root systems and generally establishing themselves so they can be productive for years to come. Runners, which are really baby plants in the making, can be replanted elsewhere in the bed.
Episode 1: How to Plant Strawberries
A multi-tiered prefab raised bed filled with topsoil and compost is perfect for raising strawberries. Strawberries love a sunny location and rich, well-drained soil. There are three types of strawberries: June-bearing (fruit only in June), day neutral (a decent crop in June, followed by small crops up until frost), and everbearing (a fair-sized June crop and a second crop later in the summer). See the list below for some commonly offered varieties.
If your plants are mail order and arrive in less than optimum condition, soak their roots in water for at least 30 minutes before planting and remove any dead leaves. Trim the roots to 5 inches. Plant with the midpoint of the crown level with the top of the soil, spread out the roots, and backfill the holes. Strawberry plants should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart. Mulch the bed after planting to help retain moisture and keep down weeds. Water well after planting.
Common June-bearing strawberries: Earliglow, Jewel, Northeaster, Honeoye, Sparkle
Common day-neutral and everbearing varieties: Albion, Seascape, Tribute, Ozark Beauty, Tristar
Episode 3: How to Harvest Strawberries
Ripening strawberries need protection from birds, bunnies, squirrels, and chipmunks, so cover your beds with a netting as the fruit starts to turn red. For the most flavorful berries, the timing of the harvest is critical. Berries should be a bright red color all over. Once the red color darkens, the berries are overripe and will become mushy. Check your bed every couple of days.
To keep your strawberry bed productive, cut back the foliage in fall and remove any plants that didn’t produce. Replace them with new plants. This method renovates your bed little by little. Alternatively, you can rip up the entire bed after three or four years, and begin again with new plants.
Episode 4: Preserving Strawberries: How to Make Fruit Leather
Sarah shows Danielle how to whip up a batch of fruit leather from puréed fruit sweetened with honey. It’s a wonderful way to preserve the taste and sparkle of strawberries long after the harvest has come to an end.
Recipe: Classic Strawberry Shortcake
For an elegant ending to any summer meal, serve up some strawberry shortcake with berries from your garden. Watch the video demo to see how it’s done.
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Grow your own strawberries
Strawberries can be grown in a wide range of soils, from light sand to heavy clay. However, waterlogging will cause the fruits to become diseased and the plant to rot. The ideal soil is well-drained and rich in humus. They prefer to be planted in full sun, out of the wind.
Plants can be planted outdoors from late June until September. If planted later, the flowers should be removed in the first year so the energy is used to develop a healthy plant in year two.
Strawberry plants can produce fruit for five or six years. However, after the first two years the yields will be reduced dramatically and a build-up of pests and diseases can occur. Strawberry beds are usually kept for two or three years before they’re cleared and planted on new ground.
What to do
How to plant
- Prepare the soil by digging over, removing any perennial weeds and adding manure.
- Place the strawberry plants every 35cm (13 in) in rows that are 75cm (30 in) apart.
- Plant with the crown at soil level and water well.
- Place a net over the plants to prevent birds and squirrels from eating the fruit.
- Pick any ripe strawberries so they don’t rot on the plant. Check the plants every other day during the ripening period.
- Regularly hoe between the rows and individual plants. You might also want to place a net over the strawberries to stop birds and squirrels from eating the fruit.
- From late May, place straw in the rows and under the fruit trusses to suppress weeds and prevent the fruit lying on the ground.
- Barley straw is the best option, as it’s softer and more pliable. If you can’t get straw, use polythene sheeting.
- It’s possible to extend the growing season by placing early strawberry varieties under cloches or polythene covers in late March. Grown in this way, the plants should produce fruit two to three weeks earlier than normal.
How to grow in a basket
- Growing strawberries in a hanging basket ensures they’re kept out of the way of slugs.
- Plant five to six plants in a basket in spring, and water every day during the growing season.
- From flowering until harvest, feed the plants every ten days with a product that’s high in potassium, such as a tomato feed.
- The same strawberry plants should continue to produce fruit the following year, but the crops will be better if the plants are renewed.
How to harvest
- It’s important to pick any fruit as soon as it’s ripe to prevent it rotting on the plant. Check the plants every other day during the ripening period.
- The fruit is ready when it has turned red, although different varieties have different shades.
- It’s best to harvest the fruit in dry weather. Pick gently to avoid bruising and make sure the green stalk (calyx) remains with the fruit.
- After harvesting, remove the straw or matting that has been protecting fruit from the ground. Compost straw and debris, or clean and store matting for next year.
- Cut off old leaves with hand shears and remove, leaving the crown and new leaves untouched. This allows sunlight into the centre of the plant, ensuring a better crop next year.
- Feed and water well.
- Leave nets off to allow birds to pick off any pests.
- It’s simple to make more strawberry plants. The plants send out runners over the surface of the soil during the growing season. These can be pegged down, usually in June or July, while attached to the mother plant. Eventually, they will form a separate plant.
- Don’t allow more than five runners to develop from each plant. In August, when the runner plants are well established, cut them from the parent and transplant immediately.
Five to try
- ‘Elvira’ – a heavy cropper producing large, soft fruits from June to early July
- ‘Hapil’ – high-yielding variety with large, bright red fruits from early to late July
- ‘Florence’ – grows well in all soils and produces large, dark fruit in late summer
- ‘Vivarosa’ – one of the few varieties to produce pink (instead of white) flowers
- Fragaria vesca – provides good ground cover in cottage gardens
Strawberry Growing Guide
The great Kiwi pavlova just wouldn’t be the same without a generous topping of delicious red strawberries. Grow your own this season and you’ll be the family favourite! Plant in garden beds, pots and containers.
The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed clear the area before planting and dig in organic matter like sheep pellets and Tui Compost to your soil.
A good rule of thumb is to plant five strawberry plants for each member of the household. Research shows that planting strawberries in New Zealand’s winter temperatures will produce a larger crop over the season, so don’t be afraid to plant early.
Choose a spot in full sun to ensure your strawberries thrive. Lack of sun will mean little or no flavour for your summer berries. Plant early in the morning or late in the day so plants aren’t exposed to hot sun straight away.
- Before planting your strawberry plants, soak in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock.
- Add a layer of Tui Strawberry Mix to the planting area. Tui Strawberry Mix is specifically formulated with extra potassium, just what your strawberry plants need to encourage a plentiful harvest of big juicy fruit.
- Blend in an application of Tui Strawberry Food. Apply 300g (approx. 1 cup) per square metre of garden and mix thoroughly into the soil.
- Make mounds about 10cm high for strawberries to be planted on. Mounding improves drainage and increases air circulation around plants.
- Gently loosen the root ball of your plant.
- Plant 150mm apart on the top of the mounds.
- Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
- Water your plant well.
Directions for planting in pots and containers:
- Before planting your strawberry plants, soak in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock.
- Partly fill your container with Tui Strawberry Mix.
- Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the container.
- Fill your container with Tui Strawberry Mix up to 3cm from the top.
- Tap the container gently on the ground to settle the mix.
- Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
- Water your plant well.
Feed your plants and they will feed you. Replenishing nutrients used by your strawberries ensures they will grow to their full potential. For strawberries planted in garden beds feed every four weeks during key growth periods of spring and summer. Tui Strawberry Food is a balanced blend of nutrients to encourage fast establishment and growth of strawberry plants, and make plants stronger and more disease resistant, while increasing fruiting potential for large, succulent strawberries. For strawberries in pots and containers use Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.
Keep your strawberries well watered. Well watered, well nourished strawberries will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.
The weather, weeds, pest insects and diseases can all impact on the success of your strawberries. Protect your plants from the elements with layers of Tui Strawberry Straw, to help keep their roots moist in the warmer months, to keep fruit off the soil and to help keep your patch weed free.
Once you’ve harvested your strawberries, try Ann’s Strawberry & Rhubarb Muffins to enjoy your bumper crop.
- If you’re short on garden space, strawberry plants grow well in hanging baskets, or you can plant straight into a bag of Tui Strawberry Mix – just remember to make small drainage holes underneath. Five or six plants will fit in a bag when it is lying flat.
- Birds love juicy strawberries – to avoid them stealing yours, put up netting to protect your strawberries once they start fruiting.
- At the end of fruiting, remove runners and then plant them out for next season’s crop.
For something different, follow our guide to creating a Strawberry Wall Garden and our Strawberry Straw Bale Gardening Hack >
Top 10 Tips for Growing Strawberries
There is not a fruit that captures the essence of summer better than strawberries. Whether they spill out of strawberry towers, tumble from hanging baskets, troughs and containers or share a spot in the flower or vegetable garden. Planting strawberries in winter means the plants have plenty of time to get established to ensure you get a bumper harvest come summer.
Below we share with you our top 10 tips for getting the tastiest strawberries from your garden.
1. Plant your strawberries early for a bumper harvest!
We know that June seems really early to be thinking about planting strawberries, but the earlier you get them in the more fruit you will get and who doesn’t want more strawberries?!
2. Plant in a sunny area
You will get the best flavour from strawberries that are planted in a sunny spot. We do however recommend when planting to get them into the soil early in the morning or late in the day so plants aren’t exposed to hot sun straight away.
3. Give them some space!
Strawberries like to have room to breathe so give them at least 30cm of depth in the soil and at least 40cm between each row of plants.
4. Don’t drown the strawberries
Strawberries don’t like to be waterlogged. They will rot easily in these conditions so ensure your soil drains well. Planting strawberries in small mounds will help prevent the soil from becoming too damp.
5. Put them in bed
One of the best places you can grow strawberries is in raised beds as you have more control over the environment. You can create the perfect growing conditions by minimising weeds, using Tui strawberry mix and food, and then adding a layer of barley straw to protect from the elements.
6. Pick the flowers
Pick the first flowers that come up on your strawberry plants as this will promote better growth. When you are checking your strawberry plant for flowers, this is a great time to keep an eye out for any bugs or insects too.
When flowers appear, this is the crucial stage where the plant will require the energy to focus on producing healthy fruit. A complete fertiliser high in potash will be the most effective.
8. Remove the runners
Runners are off-shoots of the strawberry plant. These are produced over the summer months and can be rooted and planted. A young strawberry plant will not fruit as well if the runners aren’t removed as they use up too much energy. Runners may however be left on a fully mature plant if you are looking to plant more.
9. Plant a variety
To widen your harvest window, it’s a great idea to have strawberry plants with different fruiting habits. As a general note your harvest period will be longer in warmer climates. The best time to pick your strawberries is just before they ripen. Leaving them too long on the vine will only give pests a greater opportunity to get to them first!
10. Make sure there’s enough to go around!
Everyone loves strawberries so to make sure there are enough for everyone we recommend planting around 5 plants per person. This will ensure you’re getting juicy berries all summer long!
Edible Landscaping – Growing Strawberries in Small Spaces
Strawberries have the reputation of needing lots of room to grow, but often they can fit in small beds or container.
June bearing strawberries produce runners and lots of berries. They grow best in raised beds where they have room to spread.
Strawberries have a reputation for being hard to grow and requiring lots of space. Many gardeners have an image from “pick your own” strawberry farms of rows and rows of strawberry plantings. It’s easy to think that’s what you need to get a crop.
But strawberries don’t require lots of room to grow and in fact, they can thrive in small pots and planters sited on a deck or patio. You don’t need large raised beds or a farmer to grow them successfully in your yard. For gardeners battling deer, chipmunks, and other critters in their strawberry patch, growing in containers or protected raised beds is a way to ensure you get the crop and not the animals.
Let’s take a look at all the different ways you can grow strawberries in small spaces to have a successful crop.
There are four different types of strawberries you can grow. June-bearing strawberries such as ‘Earliglow’, ‘Jewel,’ and ‘Cabot’ are the most common. They produce in early summer and send out runners freely, quickly filling in a bed with their daughter plants. These grow best in raised beds where they have room to roam.
Day-neutral strawberry varieties such as ‘Evie,’ ‘Albion,’ and ‘Seascape’ produce small crops of berries in cycles all season long. They don’t send out as many runners as June-bearers, so are well-suited to hanging baskets, large containers, and strawberry jars. Everbearing varieties, such as ‘Tribute’ and ‘Tristar’, produce a spring and late summer crop with little production in between. They also have fewer runners than June bearers.
Alpine strawberries such as ‘Mignonette,’ Rugen Improved,’ and ‘ Yellow Wonder ‘ (yellow fruited variety) are improved versions of the wild strawberry. They produce small, sweet tasting fruits from spring until fall. The plants are bushy and diminutive but do spread slowly over time. They are great grown in baskets, containers, or in front of a flower or herb bed. Sometimes found in garden centers and on-line, you’ll be able to grow a wider variety of alpine strawberries if you grow them from seed. Unlike other strawberries, alpine varieties grow well and produce in part shade, especially in warm climates.
If you have the space, the easiest way to grow strawberries is in a raised bed located close to your home. Site the bed in full sun on well drained soil close to a water source. If you’re in an urban area and the soil is poor or potentially contaminated with lead or other chemicals, consider bringing in topsoil and compost to form the bed on top of the existing soil. Use landscape fabric underneath the bed to keep any contaminants from leaching into the new soil.
Line the sides of your raised bed with rot resistant woods, such as cedar or hemlock, stone, bricks, or composite woods. Build the bed so it’s at least 8 inches tall and no more than 3 feet wide. Fill the bed with a mix of two-thirds topsoil and one-third compost. Plant June bearing varieties 12- to 18-inches apart in the bed. Plant day neutral, everbearing, and alpine varieties 8- to 12-inches apart. If you’re planting June bearers, pick off the flowers the first year so they put more energy into producing roots and shoots. You’ll be rewarded with a larger harvest in subsequent years. For day neutral, everbearers, and alpine strawberries, prune off flowers until the beginning of July and then let them set fruit.
Strawberry flowers need pollination from bees to set fruit. Attract bees to your small space strawberry patch by growing spring blooming flowers.
Alpine strawberries produce sweet tasting, small fruits on little bushy plants. They produce all season and can be grown in containers or the front of a small bed.
Strawberries are very adaptable to container growing. The rule of thumb is the bigger, the better with containers. Half-whiskey barrels or 16- to 18-inch diameter containers are great, especially for June bearing varieties. However, since strawberries are shallow rooted, the large container doesn’t have to be completely filled with potting soil. Consider filling the bottom third of the container with empty plastic soda bottles, cans, or water jugs. Cover them with landscape fabric and them fill the rest of the container with potting soil. This will save on potting soil and make for a lighter weight container. It will be easier to move your container around the deck or yard to catch the best sunlight during the growing season and to protect it from harsh weather, such as thunderstorms, windstorms, or frost.
Plant June bearing and everbearing varieties along the container edge so the fruits will hang off the lip of the container and make more room for plants in the center.
Boxes, Baskets, and Jars
If you don’t have room for a large container, strawberries are well adapted to growing in hanging baskets, window boxes, and strawberry jars. I’ve even seen them growing in topsy-turvy, upside down tomato planters successfully. Select day neutral or alpine varieties to grow. Use a coir or peat moss-lined hanging basket or self watering baskets, and position the plants closer together than they would be in the ground. A 12-inch diameter hanging basket can probably accommodate 3 to 5 plants. In window boxes, position plants 6 inches apart. Strawberry jars require one plant per hole.
Growing Your Plants in Containers
The biggest drawback to growing in small containers is the lack of soil mass, fertility, and water. Consider placing water absorbing crystals in the soil, using drip irrigation or soaker hoses set on timers to ensure adequate water all season long. Fertilize every other week with a weak solution of a soluble organic fertilizer, especially when the plants are flowering and fruiting. Protect plants from strong winds that could blow the pots over.
In winter in cold areas, move the strawberry containers into a protected location such as a garage or basement. You may need to thin out the plantings, especially of the June bearers, the second and each subsequent years to prevent overcrowding. Add a fresh layer of compost each spring to large containers, and repot hanging baskets and window boxes with fresh soil. Your strawberries should bear fruit for years.
More stories about strawberries:
Luscious Strawberries Tempt Your Taste Buds
Strawberries in May
Don’t be afraid: You can grow strawberries at home
Strawberries are the quintessential summer fruit — fragrant, juicy jolts of flavor that are best picked warm and ripe right out of the garden.
But if you’re planting now, you’ll have to be ruthless to get the crop you crave.
That means stripping the plants of every flower, bud and berry for at least a month after you put them in the ground, says Yvonne Savio, retired director of Los Angeles County’s master gardener program and the voice behind the gardening blog GardeningInLA.net.
Strawberries are best planted in the fall in Southern California, Savio said, so the plants have months of mild weather to settle in and develop the strong roots they’ll need for the hot summers to come.
But strawberry plants are seemingly everywhere these days at nurseries and home supply stores, tempting us with the promise of fresh berries.
So what to do now?
When planting in the spring, “you have to tell the plant to put its energy to its root system rather than putting out blossoms and fruit,” Savio said. “This is really hard for some people to do, but it’s really the most critical thing if you want the plant to continue growing through the heat and putting out berries.”
Strawberries are attractive plants and do well in containers — about 20-inches deep or so — which makes them ideal for small-space gardens, such as a sunny patio, or even a front porch. If you have the room for it, Savio suggests indulging with two- to three-dozen plants across a 4-by-8-foot garden space or raised bed. Your reward will be enough berries to put on your cereal every day, and more for your freezer.
And, as with most tender, delicious fruit, you’ll be competing with birds and bugs to get your harvest, Savio said.
Ultimately you may decide it’s simpler to buy your berries at the farmers market, she said, “but they’re great for kids to grow and pick. It’s definitely one of those things that, as a gardener, you want to grow at least once.”
If you’re planting this spring, do it as soon as possible, Savio said. Here are her tips for a healthy crop of summer strawberries:
1. Coffee grounds, compost and manure
Strawberries need airy, well-amended soil, so whether you’re planting in containers or beds, mix up the soil a good 6 to 8 inches deep, with a cup each of bagged steer manure, compost and coffee grounds for each plant. (Savio gets her grounds from coffee shops near her Pasadena home. “I’ve found them to be a tremendous boost to everything in my garden.”). Space plants about 9 inches apart and about 3 inches deep, so you’re covering the roots but not the crown or leaves.
2. Mulch with straw
Cover the ground around the plants with clean straw, to help keep the soil moist and the fruit dry. The straw also deters slugs, snails and other pests who think strawberries are delicious too. If you’re using containers try to keep the fruit dangling to keep it dry.
3. Companions, not competitors
Strawberries do well with other plant companions such as lettuce, which starts dying back in the heat of summer, when strawberries start producing. Basil and other warm-season herbs are good companions too, but be sure you choose plants with similar water needs. Strawberries need regular water when they are getting established, too much water for herbs like rosemary and lavender that prefer life on the dry side.
4. Reduce water before harvest
Commercial growers tend to pump their berries with water to make them large, Savio said, but it dilutes their flavor. For a more intense strawberry flavor, cut back on watering once the blossoms become little green berries. “Keep the soil moist so the plants keep growing, but if you pull back on the water, it helps the plant focus on ripening the fruit.”
5. Watch for runners!
Strawberries don’t just produce fruit, they also send out runners in the fall that will produce new plants. If your strawberries are in containers, try to direct the runners inside the pot, or into soil in other prepared pots. The runners will take root, and after a month or two you can sever the ties that connect the baby plants to their mother. Nurture your strawberry babies, Savio said, because the mother plants stop producing a lot of fruit after a couple of years.