Have you ever bitten into a juicy, sweet strawberry and wished you could grow your own at home?
Well, you’re lucky because strawberries are pretty easy to grow and can be grown in various settings, including on the ground and in pots. Plus, who wouldn’t love having a fresh supply of strawberries right at their fingertips?
Read on to learn tips and tricks for growing and caring for your strawberry plants to enjoy these delicious fruits all season long.
- When To Plant Strawberries?
- Choosing a Planting Location
- Preparing the Soil for Planting Strawberries
- Planting Strawberries
- Growing Strawberries in Pots
- Common Problems and Pests When Growing Strawberries
When To Plant Strawberries?
Okay, so let’s talk about when to plant your strawberry plants.
First, it’s important to remember that strawberries are generally planted in the spring or fall, depending on your climate. This is because the soil needs to be at the right temperature and moisture levels for the plants to take root and thrive.
In general, you want to aim for a soil temperature of at least 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit (7 – 10 degrees Celcius).
If the soil is too cold, the plants may not establish properly. On the other hand, if the soil is too hot, the plants may experience stress and produce less fruit.
It’s also worth noting that some strawberries, like June-bearing and everbearing varieties, have specific planting times:
- June-bearing strawberries are usually planted in the spring and produce one large fruit crop in June.
- Everbearing strawberries can produce fruit throughout the season but typically yield less.
- Day-neutral strawberries can produce fruit throughout the growing season and are a good option for those looking for a continuous supply of strawberries.
To check the soil temperature, you can use a soil thermometer or touch the soil with your hand. If it feels cool and damp, it’s an excellent time to plant. You should wait a bit longer if it feels dry and warm.
Choosing a Planting Location
Now that you know when to plant your strawberries, let’s discuss where to grow them.
Choosing the right location is crucial for the success of your strawberry plants, so it’s worth taking the time to find the perfect spot.
Choose a Spot With Sunlight
Strawberries need plenty of sunlight to grow and produce fruit. Aim for a location that gets at least 6-8 hours of full sun exposure per day.
This will help the plants grow strong and healthy, ensuring a good fruit yield.
Plant in Well-Drained Soil
Another vital factor to consider is the soil. Strawberries prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.
Consider planting strawberries in raised beds or mounds if your soil is heavy or poorly drained. This will help improve drainage and air circulation, which are essential for healthy strawberry plants.
Plant in Deep Containers
If you’re planting strawberries in pots, choose a container 12 inches deep with adequate drainage. This will allow the roots to grow and prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
Where the Wind Won’t Blow
Finally, choose a location protected from strong winds, which can damage the plants and hinder their growth. A spot near a fence or wall can provide some wind protection, as can a location that other plants shield.
Preparing the Soil for Planting Strawberries
Before planting your strawberry plants, it’s crucial to prepare the soil to ensure they have the best possible growing conditions.
Here are some steps to follow.
Add Compost or Well-Rotted Manure
Adding a layer of compost or well-rotted manure to the soil can help improve its structure and fertility. This will give the plants the necessary nutrients to grow and produce fruit.
Test the pH of the Soil
Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil, with a pH of around 6.0-6.5. To test the pH of your soil, you can use a soil pH tester or a pH testing kit.
If the pH is too high or too low, you can adjust it by adding lime (to raise the pH) or sulfur (to lower the pH).
Remove Weeds and Debris
Before planting, make sure to clear the area of weeds and debris. This will help prevent competition for nutrients and water and will make it easier to care for the plants once they are in the ground.
Now that you’ve prepared the soil and chosen the perfect location, it’s time to plant your strawberry plants. Here’s how to do it.
Choose the Right Type of Strawberry
There are three main types of strawberries:
June-bearing strawberries produce one large crop of fruit in June, while everbearing strawberries produce fruit throughout the season but typically have a smaller yield.
Day-neutral strawberries can produce fruit throughout the growing season and are a good option for those looking for a continuous supply of strawberries.
Space the Plants Correctly
The spacing of your strawberry plants will depend on the size of the variety and the type of strawberry you are planting.
June-bearing and everbearing strawberries should be spaced about 18 inches apart, while day-neutral strawberries can be about 12 inches apart.
Plant at the Correct Depth
When planting strawberries, place the crown (where the leaves meet the stem) at the soil surface. The roots should be pointing downward.
If the crown is planted too deep, the plant may struggle to grow, while if it is planted too shallow, it may dry out.
Growing Strawberries in Pots
Growing strawberries in pots is a great option if you need more space in your garden or want to add a pop of color to your patio or balcony.
Here’s how to do it.
Choose the Right Pot
Choose a container 12 inches deep with adequate drainage when growing strawberries in pots. This will allow the roots to grow and prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
Use a Potting Mix Specific for Strawberries
Instead of using regular soil, opt for a potting mix formulated explicitly for strawberries. This will give the plants the nutrients they need to thrive and will help improve drainage.
Water and Fertilize Regularly
Potted strawberries will need more frequent watering than those planted in the ground, as the soil in pots tends to dry out faster. Make sure to check the soil moisture regularly and water as needed.
You’ll also need to fertilize your potted strawberries more frequently than those planted in the ground. The limited soil volume means the plants have less access to nutrients.
Use a balanced fertilizer and follow the instructions on the package for the best results.
Some key tasks to keep in mind include watering the plants regularly, especially during dry spells, mulching to retain moisture and suppress weeds, fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer, and pruning and removing runners to encourage new growth and fruit production.
Common Problems and Pests When Growing Strawberries
Here are common pests and diseases associated with strawberries.
Slugs are a common problem when growing strawberries and can cause damage to the leaves and fruit. You can use slug bait or set out slug traps to control slugs.
You can also place copper strips around the base of the plants, as copper is toxic to slugs.
Birds can also be a problem when growing strawberries, as they can eat the fruit before it has a chance to ripen. To deter birds, you can use bird netting or reflective tape to scare them away.
Fungal diseases like gray mold and leaf spots can also be a problem when growing strawberries. Plant your strawberries in well-draining soil to prevent these diseases and avoid overhead watering.
If you notice any signs of disease, remove and destroy infected plants to prevent the spread of the fungus.
Harvest strawberries when they are fully ripe and juicy. Gently twist strawberries off the plant. If it comes off easily, it is ready to be harvested. If it resists, it is not quite ready. Once harvested, handle the strawberries gently to avoid bruising, as bruised fruit will spoil faster.
Growing strawberries at home can be a fun and rewarding activity that provides you with a fresh supply of delicious fruit.
To store strawberries, you can either refrigerate them or freeze them for later use. Wash and hull strawberries on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the strawberries to a zip-top bag or container and store them in the freezer for up to six months.
By choosing the right location and preparing the soil, you’ll be able to enjoy your own homegrown strawberries all season long. Happy gardening!