Nothing beats the sweet juicy flavor of a strawberry that is dirt grown and sun ripened to perfection. My children don’t even let me buy store bought strawberries any more as the home grown strawberries are SO superior to the flavourless things you buy at the store.
How do you grow strawberries at home?
Growing strawberries at home is also surprisingly easy once you know how. Below we explore the soil and climate requirements, as well as where to source your plants and how to care for them.
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What type of climate do strawberries grow in?
Strawberries originated growing under bigger trees, the the acidic, nutrient rich humus filled soil of a forest floor.
What temperature do strawberries grow best at?
The ideal temperature for strawberry growing is 60°F to 80°F (15-28C); those temperatures allow strawberries to develop strong roots and take up nutrients necessary to produce lots of flowers and fruit.
What sort of soil do strawberries like?
They like the soil pH to be between 6.2 and 6.8, which is more acidic than most garden soils. To remedy this you can mulch heavily in pine needles or wood mulch and make sure the plants are in some good rich compost. If you soil is very alkaline you will need some acid mix for the soil.
You can buy soil testing kits so that you know exactly what you are dealing with before you start messing with the soil’s pH.
Does Strawberry plants need full sun?
It does very much depend where you live. Where we live we seldom get over 80F/28C so our plants are happy in the full sun.
If you live in very hot places, you can still grow strawberries, but you will need to provide afternoon shade to the plants. Strawberries in the desert are most happy under the shade of a big tree, or in containers under a verandah.
What time of year do you plant strawberries?
Like many fruiting plants, you plant strawberries in late winter or early spring. This allows the plants to become established before they start to flower in late spring/early summer.
Can you plant strawberries in summer?
Well, you can. But you will probably get very few, if any, strawberries this season. In fact, if you are planting your strawberries in Summer, you would be best to remove any flowers that do form to allow the plant to establish their roots.
This will ensure you have a really good harvest next season.
Growing strawberries in containers: Do strawberries grow well in pots?
Strawberry plants grow very well in containers or pots.
Strawberries make ideal container fruits given their compact and quick-growing habit, although they are equally at home within a dedicated bed. Hanging baskets, terracotta pots and special strawberry planters are just some of the containers to grow them in.
The upside to growing strawberries in containers is that you can move them – to keep them out of hot desert sun, to follow the sun when it is cold, or to follow the family when they move house.
Plant your strawberry plants into multipurpose potting soil, spacing them 25-30cm (10-12in) apart – this is closer than they would be in the ground as it will be easier to water and feed them.
Fill your tub with compost to within an inch of the top then plant your strawberries so that each crown (where the leaves emerge) sits just above the surface.
Firm the soil around the plants and water to settle the compost around the roots. Top the pot off with some straw to keep the forming fruits off of the soil and to help keep the soil moist.
Watering Strawberries in Containers
The only real downside to growing in pots is that you have to water them several times per week.
When watering, try to keep moisture off the leaves to prevent fungal diseases getting a hold and spoiling the fruits. If you can, carefully lift the leaves to apply the water to the soil.
Your plants will also appreciate regular feeding with a high-potash liquid feed as soon as the first flowers appear.
After fruiting is over the leaves can be cut back to leave just the central, young leaves intact. This encourages more roots to form over winter.
Runners should be removed, unless you want to start new plants. Strawberries in pots or containers can be moved into a greenhouse or polytunnel for winter to coax an earlier picking next year.
Getting strawberry plants
You can buy potted strawberry plants from your local nursery, or order bare rooted plants online.
If you want to get free strawberry plants, all you have to do it talk kindly to a friend that already has established strawberries.
When their strawberry plants grow runners, keep the first/strongest runner, and cut off all the rest. Help the runner to embed in to the soil and allow it to grow for a month or two.
Once the runner has it’s own roots, you can clip it from the mother plant and pot it up to sell it on or to transplant.
Strawberry plants grow their best fruit in their second year. Generally after that you can pull the plant out and plant with new baby plants. This will keep your plot vibrant and productive.
How to grow strawberries from seeds
Growing strawberry plants from seed is more difficult than simply planting existing strawberry plants.
Be aware that strawberry seeds from most hybrid cultivars will not reproduce true to form. Alpine varieties and heirloom seeds usually will (along with a few of the new F1 cultivars), so factor that in when planting strawberry seeds.
This means that it is not as simple as using the seeds off the outside of a store bought strawberry to grow a plant, because it may not work. Some online seed stores do sell strawberry seeds, these are the varieties you should use if you are trying to grow strawberries from seed.
Most strawberry seeds need to be chilled to make them think that they have had a winter before they will start to grow. To do this seal the seeds in a jar and place them in the freezer for a few weeks.
Create a seed bed in a container with some seed raising mix. Sprinkle the seeds on top and dust a thin layer of seed raising mix over the top.
Keep the seeds warm and moist and they should sprout in 2-3 weeks. Thin the seedling to 1 inch spacings and allow to grow to 2 inches tall before transplanting to a container or out to the main garden once all chance of a frost has passed.
Top 10 Tips for Growing Strawberries
1 Plant Early
Plant your strawberry plants as soon as the soil is dry enough to work in late Winter or early Spring depending on your local climate.
The earlier you get them in, the more fruit you will get in the Summer. Strawberries can tolerate some frosts without issue.
2 Choose the sun
Strawberries grow best in a sunny spot. If your area gets to over 30C/85F for many days in the Summer, choose and area that gets the morning and / or late sun while being in the shade for the hottest part of the day.
3 Space them out
Strawberries like to have room to breathe so give them at least 12 in/ 30cm of depth in the soil and at least 15cm /40cm between each row of plants. If they are too close, you will have less berries and more fungal issues.
4 Avoid water logging
Strawberries don’t like wet feet. Keep them moist, but make sure they are in free draining soil, not a bog. Planting strawberries in slight mounds of compost is a good way to ensure this.
5 Have a dedicated bed
Strawberries spread, have specific nutrient requirements and need protection from greedy birds with some bird netting. This all adds up to keeping your strawberries in a dedicated bed.
6 Pick the first flowers
When you first plant your strawberries pick off the flowers for the first month or two. This ensures the roots get established and will result in a better harvest later in the season.
7 Feed them well
Strawberries are heavy feeders and like to live in rich soil. Once the first flowers appear, feed the strawberries with a complete fertiliser high in potash to be the most effective.
8 Remove the Runners
Runners are the baby off-shoots of the mother strawberry plant. These are produced over the summer months and can be rooted and planted.
Remove the runners from young strawberry plants, as they will not fruit as well if the runners aren’t removed because they use up too much energy.
9 Plant several types
Different strawberry varieties fruit at different times. To get the most out of your strawberry patch you can plant a variety of types of strawberries.
10 Plant enough plants
It is recommended that you plant 5-8 plants per person to make sure you have enough strawberries to keep the family happy over strawberry season.
The Ultimate guide to Growing Strawberries: How to grow strawberries anywhere
I trust these tips and hints for growing strawberries at home have been useful to you. If you have any questions or tips on successfully growing strawberries please leave a comment below.