Will rabbits eat strawberry plants?

Of all the ways that gardeners try protecting strawberries from birds, bird netting offers the best solution. Learn how to safely protect your strawberries. (Source: Bonnie Plants)

I mentioned to Catherine Seidenberg recently that strawberry bandits persistently steal/damage our ripe strawberries. The first couple of years after we established our strawberry patch, we produced an excess of strawberries.

No; correction. There’s no such thing as “an excess of strawberries”.

But we literally had to give strawberries away to keep up with the volume of delicious, ever-ripening strawberries. We couldn’t eat them all, even when our two still-tiny-but-strawberry-loving nieces visited. In hindsight, that was our “strawberry honeymoon”. Bliss. Worry-free. Decadent…

Abundance philosophy: grow enough strawberries that people and critters can feast.

And then the squirrels (and chipmunks and birds) discovered our strawberry patch. They eat the ripest fruit. And, honestly, I’m okay with that. Abundance philosophy: grow enough strawberries that people and critters can feast. Everyone’s happy.

Except that it doesn’t work out that way. The squirrels take a bite out of a ripe strawberry and move onto the next one. From fruit to fruit, taking a toothy swipe and then moving on, spoiling far more strawberries than they could ever manage to eat. The result is lots of rotten strawberries, and fewer and fewer fruit for us to eat.

Catherine Seidenberg suggested row covers and sent me a link to “Protecting Strawberries from Birds“.

Undoubtedly the most effective way to protect strawberries from birds is to drape the strawberry patch with bird netting… Supported on a frame like a floating row cover… (Source: Bonnie Plants)

I’ve ordered 100′ of Reemay Garden Blanket that should arrive later this week. Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to use for hoops…

Eastern fox squirrel, courtesy of sites.psu.edu

How to Protect Fruit from Birds and Squirrels

We have some fruit trees and they do bear fruit. However, the birds and the squirrels eat the fruit and then leave it half eaten on the ground. I am sure there are many people that have this very same problem. Can you help us all?
Maggie Kamashian, Calabasas

To be absolutely sure your tree crops are protected, you will need to put paper bags around each of your ripening fruit or, alternatively, cover your trees with clear plastic (of the thickness used for painters’ drop cloths) or wire mesh.

How to Protect Fruit from Birds and Squirrels By Physical Exclusion

There are a variety of strategies for preventing birds and squirrels from harvesting your fruit before you have the opportunity to do so. I must say, however, that other than physical exclusion, it is impossible to guarantee results. Even where wire mesh is concerned, unless it is on the order of 4 mesh galvanized hardware cloth welded, .025 wire diameter, 23 guage, squirrels are likely to bite or bend their way through it.

So let me say from the outset that I would very much like to hear from readers who have been successful in deterring birds or squirrels from eating the fruit from their trees. How did you do it?

Kamashian is correct in identifying squirrel and bird predations of tree fruit as a common problem. Lately, I have received a larger number of emails than usual regarding damage of this sort and I suppose this is due to the continuing drought. The sources of native plant berries and other kinds of forage are much less abundant than usual due to persistent, below average winter rainfall, and therefore less of the wild vegetative growth that would normally sustain hungry birds and squirrels is available.

History of Squirrels in California

The principle fruit poacher in our area, the Eastern fox tree squirrel, is an imported creature that arrived here just over a hundred years ago. In 1904, disabled veterans of the Civil War who came from Tennessee to the Sawtelle Veterans’ Home in Los Angeles for long term care, brought their fox squirrels as pets along with them.

Eastern fox squirrels can be domesticated and they will allow you, eventually, to approach them. There is also a native Western gray tree squirrel that, however, is not at all gregarious and will not be persuaded to eat peanuts out of your hand. Since an approachable local squirrel species could not be found, Eastern fox squirrels continued to be brought to California until 1933, when the state issued a ban on their import.

sunflowers, courtesy of commons.wikipedia.org

It should also be mentioned that those who kept squirrels as pets generally had a fondness for squirrel stew as well, making their pets, or their pets’ offspring, into potential culinary subjects.

As we now know, pets can be enormously beneficial to soldiers suffering from battle fatigue or PTSD. Today, in fact, at the Veterans Administration hospital in West Los Angeles, which is an expansion of the Sawtelle Veterans’ Home, therapy dogs are commonly used for emotional healing purposes, just as squirrels helped Civil War vets more than a century ago.

So now when you begin to curse the Eastern fox squirrels that devour your fruit, you can at least take solace in the fact that the ancestors of these garden pests were used as a boon to battered, war torn souls.

How to Protect Fruit from Birds and Squirrels By Not Inviting Them In

To keep squirrels and birds out, it makes sense, first of all, not to invite them in. Bird feeders or pet food left outside will attract not only birds and squirrels, but raccoons, opossums, and skunks as well. I know this to be true because I have spotted all of these animals in my own neighborhood where a single well-meaning soul, sympathetically desiring nothing more than to feed stray feline creatures, has attracted a mammalian menagerie of urban wildlife by regularly leaving out bowls of cat food on a front porch.

How to Protect Fruit from Birds and Squirrels by Planting Sunflowers

Gary Bogue, a naturalist in northern California, wrote that he solved his squirrel problem by planting ‘Mammoth Gray’ sunflowers. Squirrels would rather eat seeds than fruit and the giant seedheads of the sunflowers make the squirrels focus on them. “The squirrels live for those sunflowers,” Bogue explained, leaving his succulent strawberries and tomatoes alone.

How to Protect Fruit from Squirrels by Covering Utility Wires with PVC Pipe and Putting Sheet Metal Around Tree Trunks

Squirrels tend to be more bothersome in older neighbors with overhead utility wires. Squirrels visit new neighborhoods, where these wires are underground, less frequently. One strategy for keeping squirrels off utility wires is to thread them through PVC pipe. The slippery PVC makes it impossible for the squirrels to get a footing. Of course, you would want to contact your utility companies before embarking on this project.

Squirrels can jump a distance of six feet. With this in mind, regularly prune tree branches to keep them six feet away from your roof lines. Try to create some sort of barrier, such as a swath of sheet metal around a tree trunk, to keep them from jumping up into your tree from ground level.

Bird netting is the best solution for keeping away birds and squirrels, too, although squirrels are famous for chewing through it. In such cases, an alternate source of squirrel nourishment — those ‘Mammoth Gray’ sunflowers once again come to mind, or perhaps placement of sunflower seeds in a dish during the day but bringing the dish in at night to keep away nocturnal wildlife intruders — may be just enough of a deterrent to keep the squirrels from gnawing on the bird netting.

How to Protect Fruit from Squirrels with Squirrel Beaters’ Tonic

Finally, you might want to try mixing up so-called squirrel beaters tonic, which consists of 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp. Tabasco sauce, 2 tbsp. chili pepper, and 1 tbsp. Murphy oil soap dissolved in a quart of water. Pour into a hand sprayer and apply to your fruit.

Note: I want to thank Mark Begovich of San Pedro for pointing out that I erred in calling tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) a California native when it is actually native to South America. Begovich recalled that tree tobacco came by ship from Argentina and that its “seeds got into dirt and rocks that were used for ballast” and it was spread in this way to other colonies. He says he is not sure if this really happened but I would suggest that it did. Nearly all of the common weeds in the United States came from somewhere else, often in dirt that was indeed used as ballast in explorers’ ships.

Echeveria, photo by Joshua Siskin

Tip of the Week: If you have a narrow planter to fill, consider Echeveria. There are many species of this succulent genus with chalky blue to purplish foliage and contrasting salmon orange and yellow flowers. A row of starry Echeveria rosettes, just by themselves, makes an elegant display.

What’s a gardener to do?

Rubber snakes and inflatable owls mimic natural predators, but they don’t work for long. Birds soon figure out that these stand-ins never move, so you need to change their position every few days, which can be quite a hassle. Items that do move, like aluminum pie pans or old CDs hung from nearby branches, or Mylar tape fluttering from stakes, blow about and make scary reflections, but don’t tend to work very well.

Undoubtedly the most effective way to protect strawberries from birds is to drape the strawberry patch with bird netting, an inexpensive plastic mesh with ¼-inch holes. Supported on a frame like a floating row cover, or held above the plants by stakes topped with upside-down flower pots, the netting will keep the birds from getting to most of the berries. You can buy bird netting at garden centers or online.

Check frequently for any birds that may have gotten underneath the netting and become trapped. They will have had plenty to eat, but will need to fly back to their nests.

Tip from a Reader: S. McGraw added this comment about bird netting to our “Grow a Strawberry Fountain” article: “…Put the bird netting over the entire pot structure, leaving enough room around the edges to keep the birds from pecking through the netting to the strawberries, and secure the bottom of the bird netting with landscape stakes. Be sure to re-secure the bird netting after each picking.”

Keeping Birds from Eating Strawberries

How can I keep the birds from eating my strawberries?

By LISA from IN

Answers:

Here is what I did for the cars and I am thinking it would work as well for the birds on the strawberries:

Put up a line of string across or around your garden where they bother the most:

Hang these on the string:

  • Trash bag shredded into a lot of long wavy things that blow in the wind
  • CD on a string
  • Chimes (they hate these)
  • Little windmills you buy at the dollar store, stick them in the dirt by the strawberries.
  • Buy fake snakes and place them around Advertisement
  • Foil plates hanging or foil butterflies made out of foil tied together in the middle..it looks like a bowtie.

Hope these work! (06/24/2009)

By Robyn Fed

P>Very best idea: Rescue an outdoor cat. Our little hunter-cat keeps birds away!

  • You can also buy a “Motion Sensor Owl”
  • You can also hand old CDs that flash in the wind and reflect sunlight
  • Use a motion sensor tape recording of human’s voices or predator birds
  • Use a supersonic bird chase
  • place a net over the plants
  • place rubber snakes around bushes and move them daily
  • buy a “wirley bird repeller”
  • Metallic streamers, like metallic ribbon from the dollar store tied to vine:
  • At the dollar store I’ve seen lengths of gold “rope” with attached coin-shaped plastic thin metallic tags that sparkle. Advertisement
    This is sold in the ribbon area of Dollar Tree.
  • Irri-Tape iridescent bird deterrent foil combines holography, wind and light to irritate birds:
  • Hang Christmas ornaments and tinsel that sparkle and move in the wind

    By Cyinda

    I have read that early in the season to paint rocks about the size of strawberries red and place in plants. The birds try these and give up. I don’t know if it works may be worth a try. I use old net and sheer curtains to cover my plants and this does work. Thrift stores are a good source for sheer curtains.

    (06/26/2009)

    By Bootsie Battle

2K Shares

Tired of birds and other pests devouring your strawberries before you get to pick them? Here’s the best way to protect strawberries and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

This is only the second time we’ve ever tried to grow strawberries, but we’re already about 1000% more successful thanks to this trick we used to protect strawberries. I don’t think we even got a single strawberry out of our little strawberry patch that first time a few years ago and it was all because of those darn birds stealing them as soon as they started to turn red!

Actually, I really love that we have so many birds around our property. I love to see them hopping around in the grass, and I love hearing them singing early in the morning. And I really love finding little nests of baby birds all over the place in the spring! Actually, the only thing I don’t like about them is when they steal my strawberries.

How to Protect Strawberries

We decided to try growing a mini “test” strawberry patch this year, just to see if we could get this thing figured out and I love what we came up with! A few weekends ago, I started insisting that we needed to find some kind of solution for putting a mesh screening over our strawberries ASAP. They were about to start ripening at any moment and I didn’t want to be too late to the game and lose all of our precious strawberries!

Chris and I usually have to work together on little garden projects like this, meaning that one of us plays tractors in the sandbox with Jack while the other one is free to work. So I let Chris know that during my tractor-playing time that weekend, this was his number one priority! I really only meant for him to whip up some kind of super simple frame and then throw some some plastic mesh over it, that we already had in the garage, so really it shouldn’t have been a big deal. Of course, he built the most beautiful strawberry cover ever known to man, because that’s just what he does!

He picked up some little 1X1 decking pieces and used up the mesh we already had on hand, like I said. Yay for having one less thing in the garage! The 1X1 wood is actually pressure treated, but it looks suspiciously like cedar for some reason and it’s really pretty. 🙂

There are a couple of things to note about this picture. One of them is how he built a separate frame on both the outside and the inside of the strawberry cover box, and then sandwiched the mesh in between so that it’s super secure. A single frame will work fine if you prefer, just staple the mesh to the frame.

Adventures in Family Gardening

The second thing is that tiny arm of Jack’s just popping into the picture really quick to steal Chris’ tools while he was working. This is what happens if we stop playing tractors for just a second so I can grab a quick picture with my phone. It was pretty much complete mayhem for a few minutes after that because Jack wanted every single tool or piece of wood that Chris needed at the exact second he needed it. This is the way we work around here!

I did eventually manage to get him distracted again though, and the strawberry cover got finished!

Let me tell you, when we go out there after school to pick a strawberry or two, those berries are in pristine condition!

It looks like the mesh is quite dark, but a lot of sun really still gets through and the berries are still ripening nicely under there. The sides of the cover don’t have a bottom frame so that as the plants get bigger, they won’t accidentally get crushed when we put the cover down.

I’ve seen some people who have had heavier, more permanent strawberry “cages” made out of chicken wire in their gardens. They’ll plant the strawberry plants inside the cages and then they have a lidded top so they can reach in and grab the berries. This is probably a good solution for in the city where raccoons might be your berry stealers, but I like that this one Chris built is light-weight and can be completely removed for weeding and harvesting. It’s also great for discouraging a lot of bugs that can bother young plants early in the spring, so I like that we can move it around and reuse it for other purposes whenever we want to. Plus it looks pretty!

Avoid the Harsh Chemicals

If you’ve got a problematic strawberry patch, I definitely recommend trying this most simple solution before you go searching for some kind of magical chemical that will suddenly make strawberries unappealing to all animals. It’s working so well for us and we don’t have to worry about a thing if we want to pick some berries, give them a quick rinse with the hose, and eat them right there in the garden.

How do you protect strawberries and keep them safe from the animals and bugs in your garden?

Some other favorite gardening posts:

  • How to successfully grow your first grape vines
  • How to edge a new flower garden
  • Cutting Onions Without Tears
  • How to harvest basil for strong and product
  • Magical, Natural, Weed Killing Potion
  • How to clean your well-loved Hunter boots
  • How to use salt to get your weeds under control
  • 5 uses for old coffee grounds in your garden

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This resource is a guide to identifying strawberry diseases. Originally published by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, it was written by Charles W. Averre, William O. Cline, Ronald K. Jones, and Robert D. Milholland. While specifically written for North Carolina farmers, the information holds true regardless of location. Strawberry growers or home gardeners with sick strawberry plants will likely benefit from this resource.

This document contains a photo catalog of all the most common strawberry pathogens as well as pictures of the damage done by strawberry pests and parasites. The strawberry plant diseases and pests discussed are: scorch, leaf spot, leaf blight, powdery mildew, gray mold, botrytis fruit rot, leather rot, anthracnose fruit rot, southern stem blight, southern stem blight sclerotia, anthracnose, anthracnose petiole lesions, anthracnose crown symptoms, red stele in field, red stele in roots, black root rot, northern root knot nematode, slime mold, the lesion nematode, leak, and spring dwarf. (for additional information, visit the Strawberry Plant page.)

If your strawberry plants appear to be infected or preyed upon by a parasite or best, be sure to visit this identification resource to help you identify the cause of your problems.

File Type: .pdf

Length: 5 pages

STRAWBERRY PESTS & DISEASES IN THE UK

Other pages on strawberries are shown below:

GROWING CALENDAR WHICH VARIETY?
SOIL AND POSITION WHEN TO BUY?
PLANTING CARE AND HARVEST
PESTS AND DISEASES PROPAGATION
POTS, GROWBAGS

STRAWBERRIES HAVE GREY MOULD ON THEM

This can be caused by two diseases, botrytis (Grey Mould) or Powdery Mildew. To distinguish between the two, Powdery Mildew first infects the leaves with a powdery white coating, it can then go on to infect the fruits but it is the leaves which suffer the most. With Botrytis, the infection is first noticed on the fruits and it can then go on to infect the whole plant. The fruits will suffer first and have dark marked areas where the fruit is rotting with more extensive areas of grey powder.

GREY MOULD / BOTRYTIS

SYMPTOMS

– You will first see a grey mould at the stalk end of some of the strawberries. The infected area will enlarge and a sunken brown or grey area will develop at the centre of the mould. It mainly affects nearly ripe fruit although it can affect green fruits as well. The part of the stalk nearest the strawberry may well also have grey mould on it. The infection will eventually cover the whole of each affected fruit.

Picture by F J Louws

TREATMENT OF GREY MOULD / BOTRYTIS ON STRAWBERRIES

Firstly, it is not safe to eat strawberries that are infected by botrytis /grey mould, it can produce an allergic reaction in a significant number of people.

There are no chemicals available any longer to the amateur gardener for the treatment of grey mould. That leaves you with prevention measures which can avoid the problem in the first place and also prevent it spreading when it does occur, these are:

  1. Remove any foliage, and especially flower petals, which are dying or decaying.
  2. If you see any fruit which has botrytis remove it as soon as possible.
  3. Encourage maximum ventilation by planting at the correct distance apart and removing any weeds from the growing area.
  4. Botrytis / grey mould prefers lush vegetation so don’t over-fertilise plants with nitrogen rich fertilisers. Tomato plant food is the best option.
  5. Crop rotation is essential when the plants are dug up every three or four years. Make sure all traces of the old plants are removed and burnt.

LIFE CYCLE OF BOTRYTIS / GREY MOULD

This is a fungal infection which is caused by Botrytis cinerea. Grey Mould can live in the soil for many years an it can also affect a huge variety of plants including many weeds. It can also be present in plants and weeds which show no symptoms. In reality it’s best to assume that the infection is already present just waiting for the correct conditions. Those conditions are a temperature range of 18°C to 24°C (65°F / 75°F) alongside moist conditions caused by rain or manual watering. Under those conditions spores will form and spread the infection.

The real damage is done when the spores enter the flowers which then turn into fruits and the fruits become infected starting at the stalk end.

POWDERY MILDEW

– Powdery mildew is easy to identify as a white powder which first appears in spring on young emerging leaves. It looks almost like a fine coating of talcum powder. If left untreated it will affect more and more leaves, sometimes fruit ….. Read our article on Powdery Mildew for full details on how to recognise and treat this disease in strawberries.

BIRDS EATING STRAWBERRIES

Birds love strawberries and not only fully ripe ones! The minute your strawberries begin to colour up even slightly birds can be a major problem. Even if the damage is minor, who wants to eat a strawberry that has been pecked at by a bird, not me!

Physical barriers such as netting or a fruit cage are the only answer to this problem. There are many bird-scaring products on the market but their effect is minimal if any at all. There are many ingenious cheap solutions to the netting option, one particularly good one appears to be net curtains.

FLOWERS APPEAR BUT NO STRAWBERRIES ARE PRODUCED

If your strawberry plants are flowering but there are no signs at all of fruit developing the problem can have one of two causes:

  • Flowers not being pollinated by bees and other insects.
  • Flowers have been damaged by a late frost, this is called Strawberry Black eye (see below)

STRAWBERRY BLACK EYE

This is a condition rather than a pest or disease. It’s caused by late frost which occurs when the flowers are fully open. The frost damages some parts of the flower preventing the formation of fruit. It can be recognised because the centre of the flower is black, all, some or only a few flowers may be affected depending on your local conditions. There is no cure and prevention consists of not planting strawberries in cold and exposed positions. Covering with horticultural fleece can also protect the plants from some of the frost damage.

This condition can sometimes be caused by putting straw beneath the foliage too early, before the fruits have started to form. Straw will insulate the plant from the warming effect of the ground and make it more liable to being damaged by the frost. Only put straw down when the fruits have started to form.

OUTER LEAVES OF STRAWBERRY PLANTS ARE BROWN AND WILTED

This can be caused by the disease Verticillium Wilt. The outer leaves suffer first, turning brown and wilting, then the entire plant becomes stunted, wilts and will eventually die. It is caused by a fungus in the soil. It affects a large number of plants but for vegetable gardeners the key plants are potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.

Don’t plant strawberries on ground which has grown potatoes, tomatoes or peppers in the last three years. When your strawberries are dug up after three years of cropping do not plant strawberries again on that ground for three years.

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A Bazillion Pill Bugs in My Strawberry Boxes

The strawberries are in full swing as far as the harvest. That’s why I am either going to have to sacrifice this years crop to the pill bugs or the insecticide. It’s a lose-lose either way I go. The plants are gorgeous and loaded with gnawed on strawberries and flowers. The reason I have gone organic in the past is because Sevin Dust, etc. kills bees (my pollinators) and they are attracted to both the berries and the flowers. My time in the garden has been limited since I went back to work and because we have had so much rain. I really don’t care what it takes, I’m going to get some tomato and pepper plants in the ground this coming weekend.
Another big question. My main garden for tomatoes and peppers had so many weeds in it, it looked like the lawn. I just got out there on Tuesday and went to town pulling out the bulk of the weeds. As far as the smaller weeds that are still remaining. Do I need to get every small weed out, too, due to my tight deadline or planting; or they will turn to mulch/compost once I till in all my compost prior to planting?
I am going to use Sevin on my strawberries because I’m so desperate over the pill bug situation. I will probably also transplant some into another bed and pots. However, I notice the pill bugs tend to gather or make a nest around the roots, so I hope I can get rid of all of them and not be transplanting them with the plants into new beds or pots. Honestly, there are bazillions of pill bugs in my garden thanks to the compost I bought from the Master Gardeners. I bought a composter that supposedly makes compost in 6 weeks. What a joke. I started my current batch last spring and its still not ready. My compost pile that is out in the elements has sunk from a height of 4 feet to about 6 inches. I’m hoping there’s some black gold under there for my tomato bed that I can mix in with manure. I’m tired of buying bad compost from the retailers. The manure comes out like a dust or powder, with no moisture left in it at all. However, I used this “powdered” manure in my first potato box and the plants are now 8 inches tall in 3 weeks. The other two potato beds, I used a compost of manure and hummus. Those potatoes are just now breaking through the soil, so I think the potatoes prefer the straight up manure. I’ve already fertilized the first box and will do the last two boxes this weekend with organic fertilizer spikes. Oh how I wish I had more space for planting. Gifts from the garden thrill my friends, neighbors and family. Next year, I will have another raised bed.

Hanging Strawberry Plants – Tips For Growing Strawberries In Hanging Baskets

Love strawberries but space is at a premium? All is not lost; the solution is growing strawberries in hanging baskets. Strawberry baskets take advantage of small spaces and with the correct variety, hanging strawberry plants will not only be attractive but a useful food crop.

Other benefits of a hanging strawberry garden are its resistance to insect infestations and soil borne diseases along with its compact harvest area. If deer or other wildlife tends to nibble on your berry crop before you get a chance at a taste, hanging strawberries may very well be the solution, keeping the tender berries up out of their reach.

Hanging strawberry baskets are also easy to move out of the heat or winter cold in order to protect the plant. Follow the information below and say hello to strawberry shortcake!

Growing Strawberries in Hanging Baskets

The key to growing strawberries in hanging baskets is to select plant varieties which produce small berries and are not prone to creating runners or “daughter” plants. June bearing strawberries are one of the most popular varieties for the home gardener; however, they are not suitable for a hanging strawberry garden due to their propensity of sending out numerous runners and stealing energy that could otherwise be used in fruit production.

The best bet for fruit-bearing strawberry baskets are day-neutral strawberry plants. These berry specimens bear fruit at least twice a year, both in the early summer and again in the fall, although with optimal conditions they may produce berries during the entire growing season and, in fact, are often referred to as “ever bearers.” Some varieties of the Day-Neutrals excellent for use in your hanging strawberry garden are:

  • ‘Tristar’
  • ‘Tribute’
  • ‘Mara des Bois’
  • ‘Evie’
  • ‘Albion’

Other possibilities for growing strawberries in small spaces are ‘Quinalt’ and ‘Ogallala.’

With dense, compact plants producing small, fragrant and incredibly sweet berries, another option is the Alpine strawberry, a descendant of the wild strawberry (Fragaria spp). Alpine strawberries thrive in partial shade and, therefore, may be a good option for the gardener with limited sun exposure. They produce fruit from spring through fall. Some examples suitable for growing strawberries in small spaces are:

  • ‘Mignonette’
  • ‘Rugen Improved’
  • ‘Yellow Wonder’ (bears yellow berries)

Any of these varieties will do beautifully as hanging strawberry plants. Alpine strawberries may either be found in nurseries or online (as plants or in seed form) wherein a greater variety is available.

Tips on How to Grow Hanging Strawberry Plants

Now that you have selected the correct varietal of suitable hanging strawberry plants, it is time to choose a container for your hanging strawberry garden. The planter, often a wire basket should be 12-15 inches from top to bottom, deep enough for the roots. With this diameter, there should be ample space for three to five plants.

Line the basket with coir or peat moss to aid in water retention or purchase a self-watering basket and fill with soil combined with a good quality fertilizer or compost. Do not use moisture-retaining soils specifically made for use with ornamental plants on these edibles, as they contain hydrogels or chemical polymers. Yuck.

Ideally, set the strawberry plants in the spring and, if possible, near spring blooming flowers which are attracting bees, a necessary pollinator for strawberries to set fruit. Position the hanging strawberry plants closer together than you would in the garden.

Care of Hanging Strawberries

Once planted, strawberry baskets should be watered daily and will need regular fertilization (once a month until blooming) due to the rather limited amount of nutrients in the small planter. When watering the growing strawberries in hanging baskets, try not to get the fruit wet so it doesn’t rot but do not allow the plants to dry out.

Feed your hanging strawberry garden at least once a month until blooming and thereafter every ten days with a controlled release liquid fertilizer that is high in potassium and low in nitrogen.

Hanging strawberry plants (except the Alpine varieties) need a good six to eight hours of full sun a day for optimal fruit production. Fruit should be harvested as soon as berries are red, if possible, in dry weather, taking care to leave the green stalk in place once fruit is picked. Remove any runners from the strawberry baskets.

Move the hanging strawberry garden to a sheltered area if heat is intense or frost or rainstorms are imminent. Repot hanging strawberries each spring with fresh soil and enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come — well, for at least three years. Yep, after that it may be time to invest in a new round of plants for your strawberry baskets, but in the meantime, pass the whipped cream.

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