Who doesn’t want to know how to grow strawberry like a seasoned pro?
Rich with vitamins and delicious to eat, strawberries are one of America’s favorite berries and are available in many varieties.
While strawberries grow best in areas with a mild climate, there are some varieties that do fine almost anywhere in the United States. However they generally grow better in warm weather.
Types of Strawberries
Like most fruit, strawberries have multiple varieties. Some taste better than others, some are bigger than others. Types of strawberry include:
Early – These can be planted as early as March or April depending on your area. They produce small fruits but they don’t last long once picked so you need to pick them often.
Midseason – This is the variety grown for commercial purposes because it produces large fruits which will keep longer after picking. It also has good flavor.
Late – The late season type grows later than other varieties and therefore does not ripen until October. However, these fruits tend to be smaller than mid-season ones.
Varieties of strawberry:
- Garden Gem
- Razzle Dazzle
- Sugar Baby
- Wessex Blue
- White Jewel
- Winter Sun
- Yukon Gold
How To Grow Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants require full sun and well drained soil. You should plant two seeds per hole about 1/2 inch deep. If you live in an area where frost occurs during winter months, cover the seedlings with plastic wrap when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Farenheit. Remove the plastic before planting out into their permanent location. Water regularly throughout spring and summer. When the first true leaves appear, remove any suckers from around the base of each plant. Suckers develop at the nodes between branches and roots. Cut off all growth except the main stem. Mulch around the crown of the plant to prevent weeds from growing up through the mulched surface. In fall, cut back by half the number of new shoots produced this year. Do not prune more than halfway down. Pruning too far may cause the plant to become leggy. Keep fertilizing lightly every three weeks. After flowering, thin plants to 12 inches apart. Harvesting Tips
Strawberry flowers look like tiny red bells. Pick individual blossoms just prior to opening. As soon as possible after harvesting, refrigerate immediately. Store unwashed fresh strawberries in the refrigerator crisper drawer for no longer than 2 days. Wash thoroughly before eating. Rinse under cold running water; pat dry gently with paper towels. Refrigeration helps maintain firmness and prolong shelf life.
If you plan to freeze strawberries, wash them carefully and drain completely. Place in freezer bags or containers and freeze within 24 hours.
These berries start producing fruit in June and continue right through September. Plant one seedling per 4 square feet. Space plants 18 inches apart. Thin to 6 inches if necessary. Apply fertilizer according to label directions. Use organic methods whenever possible.
The everbearing strawberry can produce a lot of fruit but requires careful management. These are best planted in early April so that they have enough time to establish themselves before hot weather arrives. They need lots of space and plenty of room to sprawl. A single row of plants spaced 30 cm apart works fine. Make sure your beds are weed free and prepare the ground properly. Once established, give them some TLC – regular feeding and watering will help ensure healthy production.
Growing Strawberries Indoors
You can easily grow strawberries indoors using small pots filled with potting mix. Fill the container with rich composted manure mixed with pea meal. Add straw to retain moisture. Cover the top layer with sand or vermiculite. Set the pots on saucers placed inside larger trays filled with moistened sawdust. Mist frequently. Be aware that strawberries do not tolerate high humidity levels.
Insects such as aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs feed on strawberries. Spray insecticide weekly to control pests.
Fall Bearing strawberries
The earliest ripe crop comes in August and lasts till December. Plant four seeds per hill. Thin to 8 inches apart. Apply fertilizer according to instructions. Organic practices are recommended.
These produce a continuous supply of sweet berries that can last several weeks on your countertop. They need only light shade and regular watering. These strawberries do best in cooler climates.
Plant six to eight seeds per hill. Space plants 30 inches apart. This variety is ideal for small gardens because it produces large quantities of berries without requiring much space. It also has good disease resistance.
A hybrid cross between day-neutrals and ever-bearers. Produces medium sized berries which mature early. Good choice for home gardeners who want lots of berries but don’t have room for many rows of plants.
Produce high yields of delicious berries. A semi-dwarf variety will reach maturity in 60 to 70 days. Plant five seeds per hill. Space 15 inches apart.
Short Day Strawberries
They bear earlier than most other kinds. Start picking in April. Short day strawberries are very easy to grow. They prefer cool weather and moist conditions.
Growing Strawberries Indoors
You can grow strawberries indoors using pots filled with potting mix. Fill the container with peat moss and add enough sand to make sure drainage holes remain open. Add composted manure mixed with equal parts vermiculite. Cover the mixture with clear polyethylene sheeting secured with staples. Set the pot outside in partial shade and mist frequently. Once the plants begin to flower, move them to a sunny spot outdoors.
In fact, pots, cans and other containers are a great way to grow strawberries. Potting them is quite easy to do yourself in minutes!
Just feed and water your container-growing strawberry plants regularly and enjoy strawberries throughout the summer. Clay pots designed for growing strawberries work best with special pockets on the sides for multiple strawberry plants.
What you’ll need to Grow Strawberries in Containers or Pots:
- Strawberry crowns (preferably plants certified as disease free)
- Strawberry pots or cans
- Potting soil mix, try to use less acidic soils
- Window screen (if using cans)
- Slow release fertilizer
Instructions for Growing Strawberries in Containers:
- Choosing Containers – Proper drainage is very important for strawberry plants to grow and produce plenty of fruit. You can either plant them in hanging containers or raise the containers to allow drainage. Any type of clay planter pots that have drainage holes in the bottom and “saucers” to keep the soil from washing away, will work just fine; pick a size that fits the area you intend to grow your strawberries and how many containers you have. You can also use large cans by hammer by punching or drilling several large holes in the bottom with some screen over the holes to prevent soil from washing out through them. Most nurseries and garden centers also sell special strawberry pots which have pockets up and down both sides. If you use the strawberry pots, be sure to fill each one to the lowest pocket with soil. If you use cans, fill them so you have about one-and-a-half inches of the rim still showing. Sunlight is very critical, so be sure you pick a spot that gets between six and eight hours of sunlight per day for best results.
- Selecting Strawberry Plants – The two main types of strawberry plants are ever-bearing and seasonal. Either type will work fine for container growing, but if you live in a colder climate then the ever-bearing type may not survive the winter months, so seasonal producing strawberry plants may be your best bet. Ask your local nursery or garden center which variety is recommended for your local climate conditions.
- Preparing Soil for Strawberry Plants – Strawberries like soil that is “loamy”, with lots organic material they can consume. Add either 5-10-5 fertilizer or 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate to your soil before planting strawberries. Again, ask your local nursery what type of fertilizer they recommend for your local soil conditions or what type of potting soil they suggest for growing strawberries.
- Planting Your Strawberries – After filling each container with the amended soil, plant your strawberry plants so the roots are covered. Unless you have very large containers, place only one plant in each container; strawberry plants should be about two feet apart from each other so that they get plenty of sunlight.
- Watering Container-grown Strawberries – Don’t over water your container strawberries; they should be watered enough to keep the soil damp but not so much that you have any standing water. You should water the plants whenever the top of the soil begins to look dry on the top half inch or so. Again; it’s important to be sure your containers are able to drain adequately without the soil being washed away!
- Fertilizing Container-grown Strawberries – Throughout the summer months, fertilize your plants every other week with a high phosphorus liquid fertilizer to encourage them to flower.
Growing your own strawberries is easy to do with pots, cans or other containers. Pick your fresh strawberries as they ripen through the summer months!
Container Strawberry Growing Tips:
- In the spring, strawberries are typically the first fruit to ripen.
- Place your strawberry containers in a sunny area and turn them 180 degrees twice a week to keep the plants exposed evenly to sunlight.
- While ever-bearing strawberry plants grow throughout the year, they will produce two crops a year; in June and late summer. These berries will be smaller than classic strawberry varieties.
- If you plant a “day-neutral” variety of strawberry, you will get a modest crop of fruit throughout most of the summer months except when the weather is very hot.
- Alpine strawberries, also called “fraises des bois”, will produce small, but tasty fruit all summer, but you need a lot of strawberry plants to produce any real quantity of berries, so they are not the best for container-growing.
- If you plant ever-bearing strawberries, you should pinch off the blossoms until midsummer of the first season and then let them flower naturally after that; you should get an early fall crop the first year and then two crops a year afterward.
- Let the fruit ripen on the plant, picking your strawberries when they are red and juicy; enjoy!
Fungus can effect strawberries in a number of ways, even several inches deep below the soil surface. The fungus may cause leaves to wilt and die back, causing brown spots on the leaf tissue. This disease is known as anthracnose. It usually occurs during cool wet periods. If this happens, remove affected foliage immediately by cutting out infected areas. Do not compost these materials because they could spread the infection further. Foliage symptoms include wilted leaves, yellowed leaves, and dark lesions at the base of the stem. Remove diseased leaves promptly.
Another fungal disease affecting strawberries is gray mold. Gray mold causes white patches on the underside of leaves and stems. Leaves become distorted and discolored. Infection spreads quickly if there is moisture present. Cut out infected portions of the plant. Discard infested fruits and destroy plants.
Strawberry Anthracnose Disease
Anthracnose is caused by Colletotrichum acutatum. Symptoms appear as circular blackish spots on the upper side of the leaves. Spots enlarge into irregular blotches which eventually cover entire leaves. Fruit becomes deformed and shrivels up. Plantings treated with fungicides show no signs of recovery. Click here to watch a video guide on how to cure the fungus effecting your strawberry plant.