Updated: May 30
Growing strawberry plants is a fun and rewarding activity that can provide you with delicious, nutritious fruit for years to come. One of the most significant advantages of growing strawberries is that they are a great crop for small spaces. Strawberries can be grown in containers, which makes them perfect for balconies, patios, and small gardens. With proper care, you can expect to harvest up to a pound of strawberries per plant, which is a considerable yield for such a compact crop.
Choosing the Right Variety
Strawberries are There are many different varieties of strawberries to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and growing characteristics. Some of the most popular varieties include June-bearing, Everbearing, and Day-neutral strawberries.
June-bearing strawberries are perennials better suited for cold climates and produce a large crop in late spring to early summer. This type of strawberry plant usually produces little to no fruit in the first growing season. To encourage higher yields in subsequent growing seasons, pinch back any flowers and runners during the first season to allow the plant to put all its energy into healthy root development.
Ever-bearing strawberries are perennials better suited for warm climates and produce higher yields, but smaller fruits than June-bearing strawberries. They typically produce two crops a year in late spring and again in the fall.
Day-neutral strawberries are annuals that need to be re-planted each spring. They produce higher yields than Ever-bearing strawberries, but smaller fruits than June-bearing strawberries consistently throughout the growing season. Fruit production can range from ½ to 1 lb per plant.
When choosing a variety of strawberry plant, consider your climate, soil type, and the amount of sun your garden receives. Some varieties do better in cooler climates, while others are better suited to warmer climates. Some varieties also prefer sandy soils, while others do better in loamy or clay soils.
Preparing the Soil
Strawberry plants prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They do best in soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Sandy loam soil is ideal for strawberries, as it provides good drainage and allows air to circulate around the roots. However, strawberry plants can grow in a range of soil types, as long as they are not waterlogged or compacted.
Begin by removing any weeds or grass from the planting area. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, you can improve it by adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure before planting your strawberries. This will help to improve soil structure and drainage, as well as providing nutrients for your plants.
Planting Strawberry Plants
Once your soil is prepared, it's time to plant your strawberry plants. Plant your strawberries in rows or raised beds, leaving about 18-24 inches between each plant. Make sure the crown of each plant is at soil level, and water them thoroughly after planting. Mulching around the plants with straw or other organic matter can help conserve moisture and prevent weeds.
Caring for Your Strawberry Plants
To keep your strawberry plants healthy and productive, it's important to care for them properly. Water your plants regularly, especially during dry periods, and fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Strawberry plants require a variety of nutrients to grow and produce healthy fruit. Here are some of the key nutrients that strawberry plants need:
Nitrogen - Nitrogen is essential for leaf growth and overall plant health. Too much nitrogen, however, can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of fruit production.
Phosphorus - Phosphorus is important for root growth and the development of flowers and fruit. It is particularly important during the early stages of growth and flowering.
Potassium - Potassium helps to improve plant vigor and disease resistance, as well as promoting fruit quality and flavor.
Calcium - Calcium is important for cell wall development and the prevention of blossom end rot, a common disorder in strawberries.
Magnesium - Magnesium is essential for photosynthesis and overall plant health.
In addition to these macronutrients, strawberry plants also require a range of micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, and manganese, to grow and produce fruit. To ensure that your plants have access to these nutrients, it is important to fertilize them regularly with a balanced fertilizer that contains all of the necessary nutrients. You can also add organic matter such as compost or aged manure to your soil to improve nutrient availability.
Harvesting Your Strawberries
Depending on the variety, you can expect to harvest your strawberries in late spring, summer or fall. Follow these steps to successfully harvest your strawberry crop:
Look for strawberries that are bright red, plump, and fragrant. If they are still white or green, they are not ready to be picked.
Avoid using containers made of metal or plastic, as they can cause the fruit to sweat and spoil faster.
Grasp the stem just above the fruit and gently pull it upward. Avoid pulling the fruit itself, as it can damage the plant and cause the fruit to spoil faster.
Harvest regularly: It's important to harvest strawberries regularly to ensure that the fruit doesn't become overripe or spoil on the plant. Depending on the variety of strawberries you are growing, you may need to harvest every 2-3 days.
Pick strawberries in the morning when they are cool and fresh. Avoid picking them during the heat of the day or in the evening when they are more prone to spoiling.
Store your strawberries in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Do not wash them until just before you are ready to eat them. This will help to ensure that they stay fresh for as long as possible.
In conclusion, by choosing the right variety, preparing the soil, and caring for your plants properly, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of strawberries throughout the growing season.
If you have any questions about growing strawberry plants, book a plant checkup with one of our Plant Specialists.