Strawberries are sweet and succulent and heavenly on everything from shortcake to buttered toast or straight from the garden. Home gardeners agree that growing your own is not only easy but provides you with the tastiest berries possible. We’ll explain how and when to plant strawberries, tips for caring for your plants, and how to propagate them for more berries.
If you’ve ever visited a picking berry farm, you probably wondered how they got those berries to grow so plump and delicious and if it’s possible to grow your own. Imagine heading out into your backyard or patio and plucking berries straight from the garden after they ripen.
Fortunately, they are not as tricky to grow as you think, as long as you understand the different plants and give them the care they need. The hardest part about having homegrown strawberry plants is not eating the berries before going back inside the house.
- Planting and Growing Strawberries
Planting and Growing Strawberries
Growing a vegetable garden full of tomatoes and peppers is pretty straightforward, but what about growing strawberries?
We’ll explain when strawberries are in season, the right time to plant them, and how to grow a productive strawberry bed or container garden.
When are Strawberries in Season?
When are strawberries in season? It depends on the type of strawberry you grow. There are three main types, and they each produce fruit at varying times of the year. Knowing when you want your plants to produce berries helps you choose the right one to grow.
When is strawberry season? The growing season varies for different strawberry types. Everbearing strawberries produce their fruits in late spring, late summer, and early fall. These types form several crowns but very few runners.
June-bearers are in season throughout the month of June and are one of the most common types. These plants are vegetative the rest of the season and grow long runners during the summer.
Finally, there are day-neutral strawberries. These types are considered a more productive everbearing strawberry, and they produce fruits in the cool parts of the growing season and less so during hot periods.
Can You Plant Strawberries Anywhere?
While strawberries grow just about anywhere, some strawberry varieties have better production in cool or warm climates rather than hot, dry areas.
Understanding when to plant strawberries in zone 5 versus when to plant strawberries in zone 7 goes a long way to growing healthy plants.
Strawberry plants need full sun to thrive, so pick a location in your yard or on your patio where they receive at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day.
If you’re planting them in the ground, do a soil test since strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil. Otherwise, consider planting them in half-barrels, raised beds, or hanging baskets.
If you live in USDA hardiness zones 6 and northward, plant your strawberries in the early spring to help them get a strong root system by the next winter. For the warmer regions that are in zone 7 and southward, plant your strawberries in the fall.
The Best Time to Plant Strawberries from Seed
Purchasing young strawberry plants from the garden center is often expensive, and growing them from seeds is a great way to save money. The best time to plant strawberries from seed indoors is ten to twelve weeks before the last spring frost.
There are many strawberry cultivars, from Allstar to Ozark beauty, so make sure to pick the right one for your area before planting.
Once you pick your seeds, it’s important to mimic winter by placing the packet in the refrigerator about one month before planting them.
After cold stratification, fill seed starting trays with potting mix and press three seeds into the moistened dirt of each compartment.
Set the tray in a warm and sunny area of your home and keep the soil damp by spraying it with water as needed. The seeds take one to six weeks to germinate, depending on the type.
When to Plant Strawberries in a Home Garden
There are a few steps to follow when planting strawberries, whether you start your plants from seed or purchase a bare-root plant. Here is how and when to plant strawberry plants outside in a garden or container.
If you start your plants from seed, acclimate them outdoors once they reach three to four inches tall, and transplant them in the garden or pot by spacing them twelve-inches apart.
Starting strawberries from seed is ideal, but they don’t produce berries until after the first year of growth. If you’re planting bare roots, prepare them for planting after the danger of frost passes by soaking the roots in water for about 20 minutes.
Start the garden bed by mixing three inches of soil, compost, and fertilizer. For each strawberry plant, dig a hole that is as long as the roots and two times as wide, and space them 18 inches apart, with rows three feet apart.
Many growers like this spacing since it allows daughter plants to grow in a matted row. Remove the young plant from the container and set it in the hole, or spread the bare roots into the dirt.
Cover them with soil without covering the crown, spread a layer of mulch or organic matter around their base, and water them well to help the roots seat.
How to Care for Your Strawberry Plants
Now that you know the best time to plant strawberries, it’s time to learn ways to care for your new plants, so they are strong, healthy, and weed-free. Taking the time to nurture them encourages fruiting and strengthens the root system.
Strawberries have female and male flower parts on each plant, so pollination is not an issue. Make sure to fertilize or feed your plants with compost right after planting them and use mulching practices to prevent weeds from taking over the garden.
Pull weeds as soon as you see them and clip off yellow leaves from your plants. Water them during dry periods to give them about an inch of water each week.
Harvest the berries as soon as they turn red or white for some varieties. Cut down or mow the plants at the end of the growing season to promote new spring growth the following year.
If you reside in a cold climate, consider using row covers to protect your strawberries through the winter.
Dealing with Common Strawberry Problems
When are strawberries in season is not the only question strawberry growers have. Why are my strawberries failing, is another question.
As with any other plant in the garden or yard, strawberries contend with various pests and diseases. Here are things to look out for and ways to remedy the problem throughout the strawberry growing season.
One of the most common disorders in strawberries is leaf spot, caused by a humidity-loving fungus. If your plants’ leaves have white, purple, or brown spots, treat the plants with an appropriate fungicide.
If the berries have gray or black mold, the cause is more than likely blossom blight or fruit rot. This occurs when the fruit touches the ground and comes in contact with decaying material.
Pests are also a problem with garden plants, and strawberry bud weevils feed on the pollen of the flower buds. Check your plant’s buds daily and remove these insects by hand.
Another garden pest that loves strawberries is the slug. Slugs come out in the night and feed on the berries, and keeping a tidy garden is an ideal way to deter them. Remove excess mulch, fallen leaves, and debris to eliminate their hiding places.
How to Propagate Strawberries from Runners
There are three ways to propagate strawberries, including dividing crowns and harvesting seeds, but growing new plants from the runners is the simplest way to grow more plants.
The runners of a strawberry plant are easy to identify. They are horizontal stems that grow out of the base of mother plants, and once they reach a certain point, new plants form.
Propagating your strawberry plants is an excellent way to keep four plants within the square feet of your garden space without overcrowding them.
To propagate, fill a small pot with soil and bury it near the main plant. As it grows, direct the runner in the direction of the container.
Hold the runner in place with a small rock or clothespins if it tries to stray. Once the new plant roots itself in the small pot, clip the runner and relocate the baby plant to its new growing area.
Who would’ve thought that growing your own strawberries at home was so easy? Not only that, but they grow in everything from raised beds to hanging baskets.
The key is to understand the different types of strawberries, when they produce fruits, and how to give them the care they require to thrive.
Now that you understand how and when to plant strawberries for the best fruit production, why not impress the berry-lovers in your life by sharing our strawberry growing guide with them on Pinterest and Facebook?