Who doesn’t like strawberries?
They’re a fabulous accompaniment to many meals. You can have them in your tart pastry filling, salad, or cereal topper or smoothie flavoring!
Do you want to grow strawberries? You only need a couple of strawberry growing tips to get you started. Compare your growing technique to these tips.
You Need to Choose Your Strawberry Plants Wisely
Is growing strawberries hard? No, strawberries are generally easy to grow.
Gardeners are often on the lookout for bigger berries and a larger harvest. One way to attain this is to fully understand the kind of strawberry to plant in your garden.
Did you know that there are hundreds of strawberry varieties? Strawberry plants are often categorized into three groups: everbearing, day-neutral, or June bearing.
It isn’t uncommon to find day-neutral plants also grouped with everbearing plants.
The fruit production on everbearing and June bearing strawberry plants is affected by:
- Climate zones
- Day length
Everbearing strawberries produce two harvests in a year. One in the spring and another in late summer.
You can plant strawberry using one of two methods: the hill or the matted row system.
The hill system, also known as a mound system, is a method used to plant everbearing strawberries. It’s effective because everbearing strawberries spend more energy on producing than expanding outward.
For this method, all the runners are cut off as soon as they sprout. They grow bigger strawberries so they only require one main plant.
Doing this ensures the plant focuses all its energy only on producing berries. They are not actually planted in mounds, but they tend to grow quite large and give off that appearance.
When planting a strawberry you want to create space for runners. Do this by planting them 18 to 30 inches apart. This is known as the matted row system. It creates space for the daughters to extend throughout the garden area you have set aside for strawberries.
June bearing strawberry plants are a common variety and also highly sought after. These varieties are low on production in their first year, so don’t be discouraged. After all, as Moliere once said:
“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”
Their buds develop in the fall and bloom the following spring. When they do grow, you are blessed with large strawberries over 3-4 weeks in June. This variety of plants is classified into Early Season, Midseason, and Late Season.
If you want to freeze a large batch of fruit or make jam, June bearing plants are ideal.
The day-neutral plants produce fruit in their first year. They do not need any specific day length to bear fruit. These berries are much smaller in size, they average only about one inch.
Here is the possible harvest you can get if you incorporate the matted row system.
|Everbearing||Once exposed to 12 hours of daylight they can start producing until the end of summer||Can produce .25 and .5 pounds of crop during the second and third year|
|June bearing||June (varies slightly depending on your zone)||Can produce .5 and 1 pound of crop during the second and third year|
|Day-neutral||June, Mid-July, late August||In their first year, can produce .25 and .75 pounds of crop|
Make sure you grow strawberries in temperatures between 35-85 degrees Fahrenheit and you’be able to produce berries year-round.
It’s important to note that one cannot tell strawberries apart by simply looking at them. This is why plant classification is important. It helps to understand these classifications if you want to get the most berries from your plant.
Optimal Soil Conditions for Strawberries
Strawberry planting can begin in early spring, depending on your soil. You need to choose an area with well-draining and loamy soil. The soil pH should be between 6 and 7.
You can grow strawberries in large containers that have high-quality potting soil. The soil mix should contain aged compost. This is if the soil in your area is naturally alkaline.
You need to pay attention to depth when planting strawberries. You want the crown of the plant to sit above the soil.
Soil drainage characteristics you can take note of:
- Loam – has good drainage and water holding capacity. It is also easy to work with.
- Silt soils – the soil structure is quite unstable which leads to waterlogging and capping. Although they do have good water retention.
- Clay soils – takes time to warm up and cool off. It also retains high levels of water which may lead to drainage problems.
- Sandy soils – warm and cool quickly and also drain freely. This makes it easy to work with, but it is also prone to drought.
When it comes to the crown of your strawberries, planting it too high will cause it to dry out and if it is too deep it will rot. Make sure it’s just right.
The root system needs plenty of space to spread out before you cover your plant with soil. Carry out a soil test to know if your strawberries patch needs any special consideration.
You can also plant strawberries in hanging planters and containers as long as the bed is raised.
You want to plant your strawberries in raised beds due to drainage. Make sure to keep your strawberries growing in soil that has not previously housed:
This is to ensure your strawberries are safe from verticillium wilt, which they can pick up from other plants. For the best results, you need to amend your soil with compost or aged manure. You can also use alfalfa meal fertilizer when planting strawberry.
Remove Your Plant’s Runners
This one sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Why would you reduce your strawberry plants harvest in this manner?
Runners are long stems that come off the main plant to make more strawberry plants. The thing is runners compete with your main plant for nutrients. This causes your growing strawberry yield to suffer.
If you are still uncertain, test it out for a season. Check the difference in allowing runners to grow, or pinching them off at the central plant base.
You need to understand your strawberry plant well and its life cycle. A large variety of strawberries produce many runners.
These runners have baby plants at their tips. Even though the runners remain attached to the mother plant, they tend to spread out and root themselves nearby.
This system works best for June bearing plants as they tend to create more daughters.
Some varieties of strawberry plants produce few runners. You can space them six inches apart instead. You need to check the plant tag if you want the exact details on spacing.
When you clip off most of these runners, some varieties will produce more fruit. This allows each plant to create approximately 3 daughter plants every summer.
There are a couple of strawberry varieties that put out fewer runners or none at all.
Also, remember to buy new starters. Avoid digging up runners from the previous patch. This way you can grow strawberry plants that are healthy and disease-free.
You might also want to pick a different site for your replacements. This will help to avoid any diseases and pests that may have accumulated in the soil over the years.
At Gardening Channel, we want you to enjoy your strawberry plant harvest. By removing the extra strawberry plants, you ensure that your plant produces more berries in the long run.
Strawberries Have Fun in the Sun
One of the most overlooked tips in growing strawberries is where you place the plant. Strawberries need sun and lots of it.
If you want bigger strawberries then give your plants more sun. Don’t worry about scorching your plants, unless the temperature is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If this is the case you will want to shade them.
If you want the best results, place your plants in a spot where they can get 10 hours of direct sunlight – 6 hours minimum.
Your strawberry plants will thrive in the constant sun as long as the soil stays moist. This is why strawberry planting is usually done in rows. This allows the sun to penetrate the entire perimeter of the plant.
You can tell what flowers will produce the largest fruit by how early they appear. The earliest tend to do so in the spring. When temperatures generally dip below freezing, you should cover up your strawberry patch.
Protect your plants well because the flowers are susceptible to frost when young.
Water Your Strawberry Plants Cautiously
The ideal way to water your growing strawberries is drip irrigation. They should be watered thoroughly and immediately after planting. This will help keep the soil evenly moist all through the growing season.
You need to keep water away from the fruit to reduce fruit rot.
The soil has to remain moist (not soggy) during the entire plant’s growing season. Strawberry plants have shallow roots and the surface of the soil dries out in some areas.
The optimal soil saturation is 1-1.5 inches of water in a week.
Remember to meticulously weed your garden before you plant strawberries. Your plants shouldn’t need to compete for nutrients and water against weeds in your garden. Continue to weed your strawberry patch throughout the growing season.
Get Rid of Pests and Diseases
Strawberries are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases.
The diseases can be caused by pathogens or environmental stress. The sooner you identify a disease, the sooner you can treat them before it spreads.
Pests can be a gardener’s worst nightmare. They are persistent and sometimes innovative. They can find ways to bypass traps you have already set. The trick is in finding out what they don’t like.
Here’s how you can deal with both pests and diseases.
Strawberries are not only sweet and savory to you, but a couple of critters too. Your plants may be visited by sowbugs, spider mites, slugs, weevils, snails and earwigs.
This depends on where your strawberries are planted. If you have an outdoor garden, birds know just when to show up the day before you harvest. You want to keep brown thrashers, robins, and others from your berries.
Deer might also take a bite or two of your strawberries if there are any in your area.
You want to be on the lookout for weevils and slugs in particular. They can have the biggest impact on your strawberry plants because weevils burrow into buds to suck the pollen out with their curved snouts. Slugs are not afraid to bite huge chunks straight out of your growing strawberries.
Here are a few tips for your new plants.
- When you plant strawberries, you need to cover the soil with a porous weed block material. You can also use diatomaceous earth for slugs or horticultural oils when dealing with weevils. Some bird netting can also help keep the birds at bay.
- If slugs end up being a problem, you may want to steer clear of organic mulch such as straw. Switch to plastic mulch.
- Another tip is to make sure you cut off any buds if they appear damaged or don’t seem to be producing a berry.
As you plant your strawberries you need to know that they can be affected by many diseases.
Your strawberry plant, in particular, can be affected by leaf spot, leaf blight, leaf scorch, verticillium wilt, and powdery mildew.
To reduce these, choose the right location for planting strawberries.
You want your new plants in full sun areas and soil that drains well to reduce diseases. To boost air circulation, keep the rows narrow. Also, keep weeds away from your growing strawberry plants.
Your growing strawberries do not need watering at night. When you wet the leaves in the cool night air, you are only creating a breeding ground for fungi and many diseases.
Finally, the Time Has Come to Harvest Your Strawberries
The journey of planting strawberries is worth it when it’s time to harvest your plants. Don’t be in a hurry and damage your growing plants.
It’s easy to pull them out of the ground as you harvest. A pair of pruners or scissors will come in handy. Use them to snip the plants’ stems and keep your growing strawberries tops intact.
You can watch this video to learn when strawberries are ripe to pick.
If you don’t want to stress your plants, you should wait a few days between harvests. You should also pick strawberries in the morning when your strawberries are cool.
Organic strawberries can be a little costly. The process of picking them out at the grocery store is done with your fingers crossed.
If you plant strawberries right in your garden, you’ll have a delicious homegrown supply!
Trust us, your strawberry plants will thank you for these tips.
Want to start growing strawberries? Are there any tips you’d love to share? Leave a comment below!
If you need more inspiration or tips, here are a few guides: