How to strawberries grow?

Contents

Growing Strawberries Indoors

It is possible to grow strawberries indoors with the proper lighting and soil. In fact, the strawberry plant is ideal for a container like a hanging basket because they grow as well in containers as they do when planted in the ground. You can grow strawberries in the winter or all year round if your climate is not suitable to grow them outside. The everbearing strawberry plant produces crops of strawberries in the summer and again early fall.

Depending on the type of berry, you may have plants that send out runners like crazy. You can either plant the tip of the runner in a new pot and cut it when the new plant begins to sprout, or simply prune them off if you have enough plants already. If you choose to keep the runners to plant in the spring, they should be placed in a greenhouse during the winter months.

Prepare the Strawberries for Planting

Using Existing Plant

The strawberry plant should be cleaned up before planting. Old leaves should be removed as well as the runners, the roots should be trimmed to a length of approximately 4 to 5 inches. If there are any damaged areas on the plant, they should also be removed. The roots should be soaked in water for an hour or so before planting.

Tip: The Red Alpine strawberry is a great everbearing variety to grow indoors because they do not produce runners and make a very neat potted plant.

Using Seeds

It is also possible to grow strawberries inside by seed. Buy your strawberry seeds at a nursery or online. If you use the seeds of store-bought berries, you will not know what type of strawberry it is, and your plant may have a limited harvest or grow large and unruly.

After buying your seeds, place them in the freezer for two weeks. This will jump start your seeds once planted because it simulates winter weather.

Prepare a seed tray with a 1/2 inch of soil, 3/4 inch of peat moss, and 1/4 inch of potting soil. Dampen the soil mixture and sprinkle your seeds on top if it. Add a light dusting of peat moss over top of the seeds, but not too thick.

Keep the seeds moist and in direct sunlight. They should take two to three weeks to germinate. Once they have grown their third set of (true) leaves, they are ready to be transplanted to your containers. Strawberries started from seed will produce berries in their second year.

Prepare the Container or Hanging Basket

The best soil for growing strawberry plants indoors has a PH between 5.3 and 6.5. A controlled-release fertilizer should be mixed in with the soil so the strawberry plants will get enough nutrients while they grow in a pot or basket.

Use approximately 24 strawberry plants for a 16 inch basket. If you are using a wire basket, line the wire basket with sphagnyum moss, coconut fiber, or a basket liner. You can also use a traditional strawberry pot. Plant one strawberry in the smaller pockets and up to 10 in the center opening, depending on the size of the pot.

Choose a sunny south facing window, or an enclosed porch that receives bright sunlight. If you don’t have a spot that gets enough sun (at least six hours a day), you can use artificial light, specifically compact fluorescent light. The plants should be exposed to the artificial light for 12 to 16 hours each day.

Plant the Strawberry Plants

Place 18 of the plants to the sides of the basket, through the moss. Fill the basket with potting soil and then plant the remaining strawberry plants in the top center. A basket like this should be capable of producing strawberries for at least three years.

Make sure that the crown of the plant is even with the soil surface and that the roots are fanned out in the soil. The plant will not grow well if it is planted too deep or if the roots are not spread out.

Care for the Strawberry Plants

During the first six weeks, any blossoms need to be pinched or cut off. This ensures that the strawberry plants have enough time to get accustomed to their new environment before using up all their energy to grow the strawberries. The plants should be watered daily until the plants start to produce, sometime after the six-week period. At that point, water only when the top inch or so of the soil is dry.

The plants should be fertilized at least once a month. Organic fertilizers such as a sea weed-fish blend are ideal. They should have at least six hours of sunlight each day. Strawberries can be picked as soon as they have turned red.

Although uncommon, it is possible for your indoor berries to become infested with pests such as red spider mites and aphids. Use a natural pesticide, or make your own out of soap and water. Mix 1 part organic dishwashing soap with 15 parts water and spray your plants thoroughly.

Learn everything about Growing Strawberries Indoors in a limited space year-round productively in this informative post!

Propagation

You can grow strawberry from seeds:

  • Fill the seed starting tray with half-inch of soil, one-fourth of potting mix, and three-fourth of peat moss.
  • Sprinkle seeds on the top of this growing medium after moistening it with water.
  • Add a very thin layer of peat moss over it by lightly sprinkling it over the seeds.
  • The seeds will germinate soon and will be ready for transplanting when they have grown 3-4 sets of true leaves.

However, since you’re growing strawberries indoors, you can skip this method. Assuming you may plant just a few plants and strawberries grown from seeds take time to bear fruits, it’s better to avoid that.

The better option is to get healthy and disease-free strawberry transplants from any local nursery nearby or online store. If you have existing berry plants, you can quickly multiply them from their runners. Majority of strawberry varieties produces runners, except a few.

You can grow strawberry from runners:

  • Plant the tip of the runner in a separate pot close to the mother plant.
  • Cut it once you see some growth in the new clone plant.

Strawberry plants exhaust a lot of energy in producing runners, and our advice for the indoor plant growers is to prune them off so that they can concentrate their energy on fruits and flowers.

Planting

Select the healthy transplants and gently remove them from their mini pots without disturbing the roots and plant them in desired planters, without burying the crowns in fresh potting soil. Don’t forget to trim the discolored and diseased leaves if any before planting.

Also Read: Everything About Growing Strawberries

Choosing the Variety

For indoor growing, look out for compact varieties that remain short and neat during their growth. Strawberry cultivars that produce less or no runners are most suitable for this purpose.

There are various factors to consider when it comes to selecting the right strawberry cultivar. These include taste, size, freezing, canning and jams, and container growing. For instance, sparkle variety has an intense flavor, but fruits are medium-sized, whereas June-bearing Honeoye is resistant to soil-borne diseases and produces large-sized berries. For container growing, one the best cultivar is day-neutral Seascape–It’s smaller in size, flavorful and produces large fruits.

If you want the longest fruit-bearing season strawberries, day-neutral varieties are best:

  • They even fruit year-round in certain climates. Also, they’re very productive.
  • One more advantage of these types of strawberries is their fruiting doesn’t depend on the length of the days, which is good if you’re using grow-lights. which are also known as

You should also look for Alpine strawberries, which are also known as Wild strawberries as they have all the qualities mentioned above:

  • They grow in the wild in lack of sunlight, in harsh weather conditions, they can produce well in part sun.
  • They don’t produce runners and remain compact, suitable for limited space.
  • They produce small but very flavorful, sweet and fragrant strawberries.

Pot Size for Strawberries

Strawberries have a shallow root system. You can grow multiple plants in a single pot, in a cramped space. A 6 to 8 inches deep flowerpot that is wide similarly or more, preferably a window box would be fine. Maintain 3-4 inches of spacing between each plant, you can grow them this closely, but you’ll need to water more often.

You can also grow strawberries vertically in hanging baskets, PVC pipes as well as in grow towers, here’re a few ideas!

Requirements for Growing Strawberries Indoors

Location

Any fruit or vegetable plant grows best in full sun. When growing strawberries indoors, place them on a sunny windowsill or close to the glass door, much better if you have a small balcony. Any part in your home that receives minimum 5-6 hours of sunlight would suffice. Also, make sure you don’t keep your strawberry plants close to hot and cool air vents of air conditioner and heaters.

In case of low light, place the plants under artificial light, no more than 16 hours per day. Ideally, 12-14 hours! Put the full spectrum LED grow lights above the pots following the manufacturer’s instruction. You can use the timer so that your grow lights turn off automatically after the sunset or do it manually to give rest to your strawberry plants in the night.

Soil

Slightly acidic soil with pH in the range of 5.3 to 6.5 is most suitable, but neutral soil is also acceptable for planting strawberries. Light and well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter such as humus, compost, or well-rotted manure can do wonders. Make sure the soil is free from any contamination.

Watering

Generally, keep the soil slightly moist all the time but not overly drenched. If there is not much sunlight and the air around the plants is cold and damp, water only when 1 inch of topsoil is dry. Morning is the best time for watering!

Strawberry Plant Care Indoors

Fertilizer

Provide a well-balanced liquid fertilizer diet such as 20-20-20 or Dyna Grow Foliage Pro 9-3-6 fertilizer as it has all the micronutrients required, once in every 2-3 weeks.

Whichever fertilizer brand you choose, make sure it has Calcium and Magnesium in it, especially if your soil is acidic. You can also feed the strawberries with tomato or rose fertilizer, once the flowering starts.

Reduce fertilizer dose or increase the duration before feeding again if your strawberry plants show the symptoms of overfertilization such as yellowing or wilting of lower leaves, brown leaf tips, and margins. For more details, check out this informative article on Pennsylvania State University extension.

Pruning

Prune the runners to direct the plant’s energy on growth and production of more fruits. Also, remove the unwanted flowers.

Prune back the plant after the fruiting season is over. The best way to do is by removing all the foliage except the central young leaves. Don’t wait too long as the plant will heal itself if the weather is still warm.

Pollination

You’ll need to hand pollinate the strawberry flowers, doing this using any soft brush–paint or makeup brush would be fine.

Harvesting

Strawberries that are soft, aromatic, and red are ripe and ready to be picked. Generally, the berries are available for harvest in around 4-6 weeks after the blossoms. You can pluck them as you see them to consume fresh and juicy strawberries.

Pests and Diseases

One of the main advantages of growing strawberries indoors is you don’t have to worry about the pest problems. Still, you’ll need to keep an eye on common garden pests such as mites and aphids.

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  • Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, I love them, that’s why I’ve made this complete guide on how to grow strawberries indoors.

    When I first researched growing strawberries inside I discovered they are one of the easiest and most delicious fruits to grow as a houseplant.

    Strawberry plants don’t need much light and are perfectly suited for growing in a pot in a sunny window in an apartment or you could grow a seriously bumper crop if you have a glass conservatory and use containers. If you want to know about white strawberries .

    To grow a strawberry plant indoors simply place your potted plant in a sunny window or conservatory and keep the soil damp. If your plant gets less than 6 hours light top it up with a grow light. Always use an appropriate fertilizer. When you have luscious red strawberries cut them off and eat them.

    Select the best strawberries to grow indoors

    You should be aware that there are two different varieties of strawberry that can be grown indoors.

    June bearing strawberries that produce fruit in June, obviously, and everbearing strawberries that will produce fruit at least two times per year.

    The best variety of strawberry to grow indoors would be Alpine strawberries, they don’t expand much (good for space) and produce fruit most of the year.

    Any other type of day-neutral strawberries would also be fine or even choose a variety so they produce fruit at different seasons.

    Should I grow strawberries from seed or buy a young plant?

    To grow a strawberry plant from seed takes some patience as it can take up to a month for the seed to germinate.

    You will then normally get a harvest of strawberries one year after you first start the process.

    The first summer you will want to pick off the flowers to discourage fruit as you want the growth to be in the roots the first year.

    If you buy a plant you could get a harvest almost immediately the same year.

    How to germinate strawberry seeds indoors

    You want to germinate your seeds during the winter months, between December and February.

    This means you might get a harvest the same year you plant them!

    Put your seeds in an airtight container or sealed bag and place them in the freezer for 3-4 weeks.

    Allow them to reach room temperature before you remove them from the container.

    Place the seeds on a damp cloth that has its end in water so that it soaks up water and keeps the seeds permanently damp.

    Place them under a grow lamp or somewhere sunny and leave them there until there are 3 leaves grown from the seeds.

    This may take between 7 days and 6 weeks.

    Your seedling is then ready to be transferred to a pot or container.

    What sort of pot should I use for a strawberry plant?

    There are many different containers that are suitable for growing strawberries in.

    It is easiest to grow each plant in a 6-inch pot with general purpose compost.

    If you choose to use a container or strawberry planter at your window don’t plant too many close together. Less is more, 10-12 inches apart is perfect.

    A less crowded planter will probably result in more strawberries.

    Check out my article on the best planter for growing strawberries indoors.

    What sort of soil should I use for a strawberry plant?

    For strawberry plants, you can use general purpose compost or well-rotted manure.

    It is good to incorporate water retaining granules or slow-release fertilizer within your compost mix.

    Place some stones in the bottom for better drainage.

    How much light does a strawberry plant require?

    Strawberry plants only require 6-12 hours of sunlight per day although the more sunlight it receives the better!

    You may want to move your plants between windows to maximize the exposure to sunlight or use an indoor grow light to get the maximum amount of hours of direct light required. Check out my articles on budget Led lamps that work and Led grow light strips.

    How often should I water my strawberry plants

    During the fruit-bearing season, you want to water your plants daily.

    During the rest of the year, you want to water the plants twice per week.

    Don’t over water, you want to make the soil moist not drenched.

    It is best to water your strawberry plants early in the day so that they don’t sit in water for too long.

    What sort of air is best for strawberry plants?

    Strawberries like slightly humid conditions so you may want to place a humidifier next to them or give them a light misting with water every day during the fruit-bearing season.

    Do this early in the day so the plants get a chance to dry off and not remain constantly damp.

    What temperature is best for indoor strawberry plants?

    During the winter months, it is beneficial if your plants ARE exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, this encourages fruit growth in the summer months.

    During the fruit growing season, the best temperature for strawberry plants in between 57F and 70F and they should not go below 53F during the fruit season.

    What is the best fertilizer for a strawberry plant in a pot?

    During the growing season, you will want to use fertilizer every 10 days.

    Use a soluble fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

    Sprinkle the fertilizer across the soil avoiding the foliage and fruits and give it a good watering.

    Check out my full article on the best fertilizer for fruit grown in containers.

    How to prune an indoor strawberry plant in a pot

    After the fruiting season, you want to prune your plant back to just leave the central young leaves intact.

    Remove any runners as this will prepare your plant for the next season where you want the growth to be in the central part of your plant.

    Make sure you do this while it’s still warm as you want to plant to be able to heal quickly before winter.

    How to pollinate a strawberry plant?

    You need to pollinate your strawberry plants otherwise the will produce no fruits.

    To do this use a small brush or even your finger.

    Brush the outer edge of the flowers to collect some pollen and wipe it onto the center of the flowers.

    The more you do this the more fruits your plant will produce.

    When is it best to pick strawberries

    Your strawberries will be ready to harvest 4-6 weeks after the flowers blossom.

    Harvest the fruits when they are red and look like they will be juicy to eat.

    Don’t pull the strawberries off, use clippers and cut the stem.

    You should do this every 3 days during the harvest season, this period may last for a few weeks, depending on the variety of you have chosen to grow.

    How to store freshly picked strawberries

    Once you pick your strawberries you can store unwashed (yes unwashed) strawberries in the fridge for 3-5 days.

    Alternatively, you can freeze whole strawberries and they will be good for about 2 months.

    Only wash your strawberries when you are ready to use them.

    What to do if your strawberry plant stops producing fruit

    There are many reasons a strawberry plant may not produce fruit.

    Make sure your plants are receiving enough direct sunlight.

    Strawberry plants prefer hot days and cool nights. If a cold snap occurs your plants may stop producing fruits.

    Make sure you are using the correct amount of water as using too much or too little may result in your plants not producing fruits, the same goes for fertilizer.

    Strawberry plants will typically not produce fruits the first year as they will be growing healthy roots instead of fruits.

    After a few years, your plants may produce fewer fruits, if this happens take a cutting from one of the runners and start new fresh plants.

    How to grow strawberry plants outdoors

    Choose somewhere that has well-drained soil and receives lots of sun.

    Prepare the ground by mixing in some manure or well-rotted compost into the planting area and add some general purpose fertilizer.

    Make planting holes that are about 14 inches apart and make any rows about 30 inches apart. Plant your runners or plants into the holes and firm up the soil.

    The best time to plant strawberries is early autumn as this gives the plants time to spread roots into the ground before winter and you will get a harvest the following year.

    Common strawberry plant problems and how to solve them

    There are many problems that could affect your strawberry plants so here are some of them and the solutions to the problems:

    Grey Mould – This is a fuzzy mold that is normally grey. If this happens your strawberries are probably in conditions that are too damp or humid. To solve this simply remove any parts of the plant that are infected and reduce the humidity levels.

    Frost Damage – If your plants are in frost this will damage your plants and may lead to fruit not being produced or even your plants dying. To solve this remove any damaged growth and protect your plants with a horticultural fleece if frost is forecast.

    Powdery Mildew – This will appear like a white powder deposited over the leaves, the leaves stop growing and become shriveled. To solve this keep your plants in cooler conditions and keep the soil moist.

    Vine Weevil – This is a pest that will eat notches out of the edge of leaves. If you see any sort of pests that have infected your plants apply a pesticide immediately. Make sure you use one that is designed for fruit-bearing plants.

    How to Plant Seeds in Egg Cartons

    Planting seeds need not be an expensive or fancy activity. Make planting seeds an entertaining and educational project to teach children introductory lessons about gardening. Even adults can benefit from learning how to start seeds indoors. An egg carton makes an ideal seed-planting container. Approximately six weeks before the last spring frost, fill each egg concavity with potting soil and then have fun choosing the seeds you will plant. Transfer the seedlings outside when the weather is warm enough to finish the planting process.

    Place the egg carton onto a tray to minimize mess, and then punch two or three holes in the bottom of each egg concavity with the nail for drainage.

    Fill each egg concavity of the carton with potting soil.

    Determine the seeds you wish to grow.

    Place one or two seeds in each pot and follow the planting instructions for the seeds you are planting. Some seeds need only a slight dusting of potting soil over them while others need more soil on top.

    Moisten the potting soil by spraying with the spray bottle. Keep the potting soil evenly moist during germination.

    Watch for seedlings to emerge from the potting soil. Place the egg carton under the grow light after the seedlings sprout from the soil.

    Thin the seedlings to one seedling per pot by removing the weakest seedling when they are approximately 1 inch high.

    Transplant the remaining seedlings to individual peat pots when they are approximately 2 inches tall. Transplant the seedlings outside when all danger of frost has passed.

    How to Grow Strawberries Indoors

    Growing strawberries indoors can yield great results, but it has some challenges. If you really like this aromatic and healthy fruit and have some indoor area to spare, give them a chance, they might surprise you.

    Before starting to grow strawberries indoors, there are few things to consider:

    Growing Location, Light and Temperature

    Indoor location for growing strawberries can be everywhere – ordinary windowsill, on flower shelf with other decorative plants (strawberries are both good tasting and very decorative plants), on the wall using some vertical growing system etc.

    Strawberries grow best on room temperatures between 20 and 25°C (between 68 and 77°F), but they will tolerate both colder and warmer temperatures. After all, their vegetation period starts early in Spring and continues to the late Autumn. This of course highly depend on geographical location and somewhat on strawberry variety.

    Strawberries will also tolerate some draft, but sudden drops of temperatures can harm the plant and lower the fruit yield.

    Strawberries are plants that grow on a direct sunlight, even during summer. Strength of direct sunlight is between 32.000 – 130.000 lux, even 180.000 during summer, depending on location and season. Strawberries can grow in shade, but much better on direct sunlight. So, if you are not growing strawberries on a windowsill on southern window, consider having some sort of artificial lighting that can provide enough light for growing plants.

    Hand Pollination

    When berries are outside, there are no problems with pollination. However, indoor strawberries must be hand pollinated. This is not complicated and it doesn’t require much time.

    Strawberry flowers are ready for pollination when petals are fully opened, pistil (female part) is yellow-greenish and stamen (male parts) are brownish. We say ‘-ish’ since this vary little bit from variety to variety, especially from berry to berry – various berries can be grown indoors, not only strawberries.

    For hand pollination small, relatively soft, makeup brush is recommended – gently brush the pollen from stamen to the pistil and do this from flower to flower. Be sure to cover entire pistil, or you can end-up with partially pollinated strawberry. Also, after finishing with last strawberry flower, feel free to start all over once more – this way one is certain that there are no missed flowers and that whole pistils are pollinated.

    Note: there are hand pollinators on the market, that operate using small batteries. Personally, I have never used one and therefore, I can’t recommend any of them.

    Pollination can be done on a daily basis – when strawberry flower is pollinated, white petals will soon start to die, leaving green sepal (green leaves surrounding the flower, below petals) around soon-to-be strawberry.

    Strawberry Types and Varieties

    Day neutral strawberries are recommended type for growing indoors, especially Alpine strawberries. Ever bearing varieties can be used, too, but they don’t bear fruits all year long.

    Note on Alpine strawberries: there are several names for this type of strawberries, but these strawberries look like wild strawberries, taste like wild ones, they grow no runners, and if conditions are met, they bear small and very aromatic fruits all year long.

    Day neutral strawberries can bear fruit all year long, just keep temperatures during summer below 40°C (104°F) and during winter above 15°C (59°F), especially if you grow strawberries on windowsill.

    Having 20-25 small Alpine strawberries doesn’t require much space, provide enough flowers for almost daily pollination and bear fruits on a daily basis – their fruits are very small, but single Alpine strawberry fruit leaves enough flavor and fragrance in mouth that it is simply a shame to drink water after consuming it 🙂

    Growing System and Watering

    Depending on the strawberry size, a strawberry plant requires 0.5 to 2l (dm3) of soil. Alpine strawberries can be grown rather dense, but they also need some space. On average, if you provide 1-1.5l of growing soil per plant, strawberries are going to be happy.

    Strawberries can be grown hydroponically and such systems doesn’t require much maintenance, after they are set up. Also, such systems are usually vertical growing systems and they provide best yields per occupied area. But, setting them up can be time consuming and costly and hand pollination is a must. Such systems also include artificial lighting for plants in the form of LED lights or small fluorescent tubes and as such, they often doesn’t require to be positioned near the window or glass doors. Turning lights on and off and water circulation is controlled using electronics. High-tech systems obviously cost some decent money 🙂

    If you are interested in growing strawberries at home, start with vertical container having 4-6 positions per row, with height up to a meter (3 feet). Position such container near the glass door and use 2 (two) fluorescent tubes or equivalent LED grow lights for artificial lightning of the container that are turned away from the door/window. Tubes/LEDs should be positioned vertically, some 40cm (16 inches) away from the vertical container, some 60-90° away from each other. If possible, use light meter to check light strength on various positions and turn lights on and off automatically or manually. Automatic timers are rather cheap these days, so consider automatic turning on and off.

    If you plan on growing strawberries on a windowsill, you can use rectangular containers or round pots. Rectangular containers provide more growing area per length of a windowsill, but round pots are easier to manipulate and rotate on regular basis.

    I prefer growing more plants on area that I have, but round pots are much better in this case – all of this is IMHO, of course.

    Growing Soil for Strawberries

    Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 6.0 to 6.5. Also, pH level between 5.5 to 7.0 is acceptable, but …

    pH level of the soil can be tested using small test kits – take a small amount of your soil, mix it with chemicals provided and compare the color with chart provided with a kit.

    Strawberries require balanced nutrient levels – nitrogen for leaves, potassium and phosphorous for flowering and bearing fruits. Not to mention many other required microelements …

    This is oversimplification, of course, but if you add, for example, too much nitrogen, you will get plants with plenty of large leaves, but only a few of flowers and fruits that are prone to diseases.

    Growing soil should be enriched using compost, humus, aged (or dried – in the form of pellets) cow or horse manure and NPK fertilizers optimized for strawberries.

    NPK fertilizers with gradual release of nutrients (up to a 4-6 months) are highly recommended in combination with organic fertilizers.

    When growing strawberries on a small area, it is perhaps the best to buy sterile soil optimized for strawberries and NPK fertilizers with gradual release of nutrients.

    Strawberry Harvest

    Harvest – finally 🙂 When growing strawberries at home, indoors, ripe strawberries can be picked up on a daily basis and consumed right away.

    Strawberries taste the best when they get their characteristic red color – take your time and if needed, pick the fruit a day later, especially if you are testing a new variety.

    Strawberry Pests and Diseases

    Strawberries grown indoors are protected from mice and birds, but sometimes pets can be rather damaging – parrots and similar birds are often let outside of birdcages and if left unattended, they can make a mess not only by eating ripe fruits, but they can damage the plants and dig the soil out.

    Insects and diseases can and should be treated with (preferably) organic agents.

    Certified strawberry plants should be grown in soil treated with a methyl bromide-chloropicrin mixture or SMDC (Vapam) – this will greatly reduce the damage from viruses, nematodes, red stele and other insects and diseases.

    However, in some cases, usage of fungicides is required. In that case, carefully read the instructions and whatever you do, do it outside.

    After plants are treated, be sure to wait required period of time, before picking the strawberries for consumption.

    Strawberries are easy to grow – they require some care and some time, but very soon, they will pay you back with rich and tasty crop. Don’t hesitate to test various types and varieties, because you never know what is the perfect strawberry for you, until you find one … Even then, some surprises are maybe just around the corner 🙂

    Bob asked:

    I have a large container on my patio with strawberry plants in it. This was the 2nd summer for these strawberries. Unfortunately, the plants only put out a handful of strawberries back in early June. I was very disappointed to say the least. I had stopped by a local nursery to pick their brains about the lack of yield I had this summer. The lady there told me that strawberries grown in containers don’t typically produce a lot of fruit compared to those growing in the ground. She also asked me if I had fertilized my strawberry plants last fall before winter set in. I had never heard of doing this. Why would you fertilize a plant that is about to die from the coming cold months? If this is true, when do I fertilize? Now, that the plant is still green and alive, or do I wait for it to curl up and die after winter hits? It should be noted that I leave this container outside on my patio uncovered and exposed to the snow and elements all winter long. It survived fine this way last winter and grew back really nice this past spring, so I really didn’t have to baby it at all to keep it alive. It survived! Also, what fertilizer, if any, do I use for this fall fertilization?

    Answer to: Growing Strawberries in Containers…

    Bob,
    Thanks for writing in and asking about the best way to grow strawberries in containers. Believe it or not, many people write in asking about one aspect or another of using mobile, hanging, or other smaller containers for cultivation of their strawberry plants. And, like you, many people are less-than-thrilled with their results. To help you get things going in the right direction, let me make a few comments, and I’ll then list some of the common problems people have to deal with when growing strawberries in containers.

    First a little bit of information about the strawberry plant itself may be in order. Amazingly, strawberry plants don’t actually die during the winter months if cared for properly (or if they live in a location where temperatures are sufficiently mild). They enter a state of dormancy where they are still living, but only just barely. This reduces the metabolic demands that are present normally to a bare minimum. The leaves die back, plant functions slow to a crawl, and they surely do look dead. But, come warmer temperatures during the late winter or spring, they burst forth again into vibrancy and verdant vivaciousness! Potted plants can even survive without any additional care in places with relatively mild winters simply by benefiting from the radiant heat that passes through house walls (if they are kept close enough).

    6 Tips for Growing Strawberries in Containers

    With that said, strawberries CAN be grown in containers successfully. They can even produce just as well in containers as their in-ground counterparts. However, since strawberry plants don’t typically find themselves in pots out in the wilds, the folks who put them there need to keep a few things in mind. Remembering these tips will help your plants do well.

    1. Pots are small, so avoid overcrowding.

    Strawberry plants are small, and they can easily fit into most pots. But, just like most other plants, they like their space and hate to be crowded. When growing strawberry plants in containers, the temptation is to let more plants root than the small area can support. To make sure you get the most out of your berry plants, be sure to let no more than 3 (or if a smaller variety, 4) plants root per square foot of soil. Since strawberry plants have relatively shallow root systems, the surface area (as long as the pot or container doesn’t taper too quickly) is sufficient to use as your calculation. If you allow too many plants to root, they will provide you with few strawberries, even if they look green and lush.

    2. Snip the runners.

    Most strawberry plants put out runner plants. These plants are great if you have a garden with extra space, but they aren’t so great for pots. While they will often make a very pretty cascade from a hanging basket, they also put quite a drain on the productive capacity of your plants. Snipping the runners as soon as they are recognized will allow and encourage the plants to devote most of their energy in the direction you would like: making strawberries!

    3. Growing strawberries in containers increases exposure.

    Strawberries are temperate by nature. That means they thrive in the temperate zones of earth above and below the equatorial tropic zones. They can’t stand tropical conditions very well without some sort of climate control. If the heat doesn’t do them in outright, the fungi and pests that do thrive in the tropics usually will. Growing strawberries in containers exposes the all-important roots of the plants to warmer temperatures than they would normally find in the ground. Without the thick and insulating properties of the ground surrounding their roots, strawberries in pots will often see their root temperature rise with the temperature of the surrounding soil. Especially if you have dark pots/containers, the root temperature is likely to rise to the point where strawberry production is affected. To mitigate this, try to shade the containers where your strawberries live. You can also put a reflective material like aluminum foil around the pots to dissipate the heat and to shade the pots as well. Also, lightly spraying the containers with a little bit of water when you water the plants can cool them as well as the water evaporates and takes some of the residual heat with it.

    4. Water more often with less water.

    Due to the exposure mentioned in the last point, the soil in pots will often dry out more quickly than you water them. Or, to compensate for that tendency, you may water them too much and keep the soil soggy. The trick to growing strawberries in containers is to avoid both dryness and sogginess. That is accomplished by watering with less water several times a day in the heat of the summer. The soil should stay just-damp, never dry. Also, make sure that your chosen container will drain adequately. If the soil stays soggy, even beneath the surface, deadly microbes can set up shop and deal death to your once-happy plants.

    5. Container strawberries need attention after harvest.

    Unbeknownst to most, the life cycle of a strawberry plant is somewhat complex. Strawberries themselves don’t actually originate in the springtime. They started their lives in the fall of the previous year. After producing a (hopefully) bountiful harvest for you, the humble strawberry plants don’t check into the equivalent of a plant Hilton for the rest of the summer to enjoy life as a container plant. No, indeed. They get busy growing and reproducing themselves via runners. Not only that, but by the beginning of fall, the little strawberry plants have begun forming the perennating buds within their crowns that will turn into next year’s flowers. The flowers turn into strawberries subsequently. So, failure to pay attention to the well-being of your container strawberries after they give you strawberries will come back to bite you in the long run. They need tender loving care through the fall. Specifically, to provide the nutrients your plants need to maximize perennating bud formation (which you will then harvest as strawberries the next spring), apply an appropriate fertilizer (10-10-10 conventional, or an equivalent organic fertilizer) in August at a rate of approximately 1/3 of an ounce per square foot.

    6. Provide extra insulation for strawberries in containers.

    Just as heat seeps in during the blazing summer months, winter sends forth its icy fingers more readily into above-ground containers as well. If your winters are mild, there is little to worry about. If the temperatures stay in the twenties, or just dip into the upper teens for a short period, your plants will likely come out of the winter unscathed. If the temperatures drop out of the low twenties and stay there for a while, your plants can freeze straight through. That will surely kill them. So, if the forecast calls for cold, wrap your sleeping strawberries snugly with some insulating material and/or put them in the garage to provide them some shelter from the harsh bleakness of winter.

    Growing Strawberries in Containers: Concluding Comments

    If you follow the general principles for growing strawberries as described here, and you pay special attention to the tips and cautions mentioned above on this page, there is no reason your container strawberries can’t perform just as well as in-ground strawberry plants. Just keep an eye on the little fellows a little more than you would the strawberries out in a garden. And, of course, good luck!

    Ever considered growing strawberries indoors before? Growing strawberries indoors is not only practical but also ideal. Find out how you can do it in this easy growing guide!

    All You Need To Know About Growing Strawberries Indoors

    If you were once like me, who previously thought that strawberries are unlikely to thrive indoors, you’re definitely missing out. Yes, indoor plants such as cactus and succulents are ideal, but strawberries are definitely better. Think about the delicious recipes you can make like ice cream, other strawberry frozen desserts, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry jam all from fresh strawberries growing inside your home. Read on to learn more about growing strawberries indoors.

    All About Growing Strawberries Indoors

    Among its relatives, strawberry is probably one of the most popular fruit berries. Well, I think it is well-deserved, considering strawberry’s striking aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and signature sweetness. However, as I’ve mentioned before, strawberries made it to the top of the dirty dozen–a list of produce that are heavy on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and which could potentially be unhealthy despite its wholesome health benefits. So if you ask me why I prefer my strawberries homegrown, it’s because I want pure strawberry goodness without the bad stuff.

    Containers For Growing Strawberries Indoors

    You can actually use any pot or planter available. But if you have limited space, you can use a tiered planter that’s a decoration in itself. It also lets you grow more strawberries within the square foot space it occupies. Strawberry tiered planters are also available in less costly strawberry planter bags.

    Growing Strawberries Indoors From Bare Roots

    You can grow strawberries from seeds, but that process takes two seasons to bear fruit. You can grow strawberries from runners, but that wouldn’t look good indoors. Which is why growing strawberries from bare roots are the best way to grow strawberries indoors. They bear fruits as early as 10 weeks, and they grow great indoors.

    Ideal Variety For Growing Strawberries Indoors

    For indoor planting in winter, short-day strawberries are ideal. Choose the short-day June-bearing strawberry varieties for easy care, and great flavor and fragrance. June-bearing strawberries produce one crop of large strawberries per year and normally occurs in late May to early June.

    Ideal Soil For Growing Strawberries Indoors

    Investing in a quality soil for your indoor strawberries will save you a lot of trouble on pests and diseases present in just any soil or compost. Strawberries like loamy, slightly sandy soil that’s a bit acidic. Potting soil from the store may already have fertilizers in it, so avoid adding more.

    Indoor Strawberry Plant Care

    Strawberries need six to eight hours of direct sunlight so a sunny windowsill will be perfect for your potted plants. During cloudy days, you have to go artificial to get them lighted. These easy and inexpensive DIY indoor grow lights could help you. Don’t let your plants dry out, but don’t let them sit in water too. Make sure your soil and planter drain well.

    Dealing With Strawberry Pests And Diseases

    What’s great about indoor gardening is you avoid or limit pest infestation. There are 200 known pest species that can attack strawberries. So be on the lookout still, and remedy this problem with natural pests and insect repellents.

    How To Make Indoor Strawberries Fruit

    Although strawberries are self-pollinating, you might want to give them a helping hand since pollinators will also be absent indoors. Take out a small brush, and gently brush the pollen of each full blooming flower. Go through all the flowers one more time to make sure you’ve brushed the pollen into all the flowers.

    Tips For Harvesting Indoor Strawberries

    Your strawberries are ready for picking when they’ve reached their signature deep red color. Make sure each strawberry is ripe since they don’t ripen further after picking. Picking ripe strawberries more often will encourage more fruits.

    Bonus Tips For Growing Strawberries Indoors

    A minimum of 6 to 7 strawberry plants per person is advised if you want fresh strawberries year-round. You can grow strawberries near your indoor herbs, but never near vegetables of the tomato and cabbage family. Use light-colored containers to help keep the roots cooler. Good air circulation for your indoor strawberries will prevent fungus developing in your strawberries. Check out more helpful tips for growing strawberries here.

    This video from ehowgarden will give you more ideas on growing strawberries indoors:

    Isn’t growing strawberries indoors exciting? With fresh and clean strawberry fruits to harvest anytime soon, I’m sure you’re as excited as I am. Now you know how to grow strawberries indoors so you can have strawberries beyond and before the growing season–practically year-round. Have a great time growing strawberries indoors!

    Working to get started on growing strawberries indoors? I’m excited to know! Leave me comments below!

    Check this neat DIY Hanging Planter for your hanging indoor strawberry garden.

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    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

    Featured Image via Conger Design

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