Of all the fruits, strawberries are among the easiest to grow and are a good choice to grow as container plants. Winterizing your potted strawberry plants will keep them happy year after year.
Pots used to grow strawberries are usually made of terra cotta; the reddish-orange pots we all know so well. Both ‘regular’ terra cotta pots and those made specifically for strawberries or small succulents will work just fine. The reason for using terra cotta is that it’s highly porous which allows for well-drained soil. You can purchase strawberry pots at your local home and garden centers or online at places like Amazon. Another popular choice for a container gardener is a wire hanging basket lined with coconut fiber or moss.
Strawberries are perennial plants — they go through a period of dormancy in the winter and return in early spring ready to go again for another growing season. With a minimal amount of preparation for getting them through cold temperatures, your strawberry plants in pots can be as productive as in-ground plants. The amount of winterizing required depends on what planting zone you live in.
Virtually every planting zone is conducive for growing strawberry plants at least a few months out of the year. If you don’t know what zone you live in, go to PlantMaps.com to find out. Those living in zones 2-7 have long winter months and colder temperatures which will require winterizing your potted strawberries. Those living in zone 8 or higher can rest easy because no extra attention is necessary.
Winter care for strawberry pots in parts of the country with cold winters can be accomplished by putting the pots in a cool garage or cellar. You can also remove the plants from the pot and plant them in plastic pots. For best results plant those pots in the ground in your garden beds, up to the top rim of the pots (leaving the top of the plants exposed). Of course this needs to be done before the ground freezes. The plants should then be covered over with a loose layer of clean straw.
For warmer zones or areas with mild winters that don’t experience extended periods of temperatures below freezing, simply place the plants under the deck, on a covered porch or any protected area to provide coverage from winter precipitation and winter wind. If you have an extended period of cold weather with below freezing temperatures, it’s a good idea to bring them into your garage or cellar.
Those living in the warmest climates — where berries are produced commercially — simply removing unwanted runners from the plants to promote healthier growth of the mother plant and watering them less frequently is sufficient.
That’s about all there is to winterizing your potted strawberry plants. Honest. Homegrown strawberries make a great container crop for the following reasons. They:
1. Have shallow roots
2. Are low-maintenance plants
3. Produce small fruits that don’t require a lot of room
4. Have a vine-like quality that allows them to grow and produce outside the container
5. Naturally propagate runners that can be rooted quickly and easily into more pots
Ever-bearing strawberries (those which produce berries in the spring and late summer) are usually the best for growing in pots. Some of the more popular varieties of everbearing strawberries are Calypso, Alpine, Arapahoe and Alexandria.
When buying your plants, make sure you purchase healthy plants with nice green foliage, few if any runners and plants whose root crowns are firm but fleshy feeling. Plants can be purchased at your local home and garden centers, or from fellow gardeners in your area who have plants to spare. Any of these reputable seed and plant catalogs are also excellent sources for quality plants that come with limited guarantees: Henry Fields, Gurney, Jung, Burpee, Park Seeds and Harris Seeds.
Growing strawberry plants in pots is a fun, economical, delicious and easy way to introduce you or your children to gardening and healthy eating.