This is a question submitted to Strawberry Plants .org by a reader. See the Strawberry FAQ for more questions, or use the search box to find more information.
- Q: Do Strawberries Take a Year to Produce Fruit?
- Answer to: Do Strawberries Take a Year to Produce Fruit?
- Recommended Varieties
- How to Care for Strawberries
- How long does it take for a strawberry plant to produce fruit?
- Can you grow strawberries from seed?
- Can you grow strawberries in containers?
- When are strawberries ready to pick?
- Fixing Strawberry Plants That Don’t Produce Fruit
- Why are There No Strawberries?
- Growing Tips For Strawberry Plants
- How to Plant Strawberries
- Best Time to Plant Strawberries
- Planting Zones
- Types of Strawberries
- When Is It Too Late to Plant Strawberries
- Options for Late Planting
- Growing From Seed vs. Buying Starters
- Planting Strawberries and Keeping them Happy
- Protecting and Replacing Plants
- The Three Types
- Not Without Their Issues: Pests and Diseases
- Harvest and Delicious Uses
- No Going Back
- Strawberry Plant Feeding: Tips On Fertilizing Strawberry Plants
- Prior to Fertilizing Strawberry Plants
- How to Fertilize Strawberry Plants
Q: Do Strawberries Take a Year to Produce Fruit?
Hello, I hope you can help me. I planted 24 strawberry plants this April and they finally bore some fruit. Unfortunately, the fruit is small (less than an inch) and tastes mealy. Do strawberries take a year to have quality fruit? Thanks so much
Answer to: Do Strawberries Take a Year to Produce Fruit?
Thanks for stopping by! Generally, strawberry plants do take about a year to really begin producing good fruit. If you planted a June-bearing variety (see the Strawberry Varieties reference page, if needed), it is best for the long-term health of your plants and for the yield in future years to completely do without strawberries in year 1 by pinching off or cutting off all of the strawberry flowers. This helps the plants become well-established and increases their overall vitality.
If you planted a day-neutral or everbearing variety, the flowers should still be pinched initially, but strawberries can usually be harvested later on in the season. Sometimes, however, small and misshaped strawberries can be due to other factors. On that, see this page on deformed strawberries.
There are a host of other factors that could affect strawberry production as well: soil pH, type of soil, amount of sun, etc. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Growing Strawberries reference page, it has a lot of information that may help you! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. Hopefully that helps!
Strawberry Plants .org exists to help spread the passion for growing and eating strawberries. However, manpower is limited. If you have a question related to strawberries, feel free to submit it or post it as a comment. Please be patient, though, as it may take some time before your question is addressed.
- Exposure: Full sun
- When to plant: Early spring or after temperatures have cooled down in the fall in warm climates
- Pests and diseases to watch out for: Aphids, spider mites, gray mold
Space plants about 12 inches apart down a row. Cover all roots but keep the middle of the crown (the central growing bud where the leaves begin to emerge) at soil level.
- June-bearer (yields one crop in late spring or early summer): Jewel
- Everbearing (produces fruit until the first frost): Seascape, Tristar
How to Care for Strawberries
Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer when planting, then add compost and fertilizer every spring. In late fall, mulch with straw for the winter (that’s where the “straw” in “strawberries” originates). Pull back mulch slightly in spring. Keep moist and weeded because strawberries don’t compete well with weeds.
How long does it take for a strawberry plant to produce fruit?
Strawberries are perennial and will come back every year, bearing fruit for several years. Although you’ll get some fruit the first year, pinch off flowers and let the plant put its energy into establishing sturdy roots for a healthier plant. You can harvest berries the second year.
Can you grow strawberries from seed?
Yes, but it’s painfully slow. Go with plants instead. While you may be able to get cuttings from your neighbor’s garden from the runners, or little shoots that berry plants send off, you may end up with any viruses those plants harbor, too. It’s safer for your garden to purchase certified disease-free plants from a local nursery.
Can you grow strawberries in containers?
Yes! If you don’t have room in ground, they do very well in containers of all sizes on your patio or deck. But keep them watered because containers dry out faster than in-ground plantings.
When are strawberries ready to pick?
When berries are red but before they turn dark red and lose their glossiness. Consider covering plants with black poly netting or row covers to discourage your friends, the birds, chipmunks, and rabbits (who adore fresh berries as much as you do) from harvesting them before you do.
“It’s best to purchase strawberry plants from local nurseries or companies in your area,” says Ed Smith, author of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible and Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers. “If you buy from another region, you don’t know where the seeds were grown or tested. And not all varieties perform well in all regions of the country.”
Arricca SanSone Arricca SanSone writes for CountryLiving.com, WomansDay.com, Family Circle, MarthaStewart.com, Cooking Light, Parents.com, and many others.
Fixing Strawberry Plants That Don’t Produce Fruit
More common than one might think is the problem of strawberry plants that are not producing or when a strawberry will not bloom. Instead, you may have lots of foliage and nothing else to show for all your hard efforts. So why is it that your strawberry plants are big but no strawberries, and how can you fix this common complaint?
Why are There No Strawberries?
There are several reasons for poor strawberry production, everything from poor growing conditions to improper watering. Here are some of the most common reasons for strawberries with no fruit:
Poor growing conditions – Although they’ll usually grow just about anywhere, strawberries prefer well-draining, organic soil and a combination of warm and cool growing conditions in order to produce adequate fruit. These plants grow best with warm days and cool nights. Plants that are grown when it’s too hot will likely not produce many berries, if any. Likewise, if a cold snap occurs, especially while the plants are in bloom, the open blossoms van be damaged, resulting in little to no fruit.
Watering issues – Either too little or too much water can also affect fruit production in strawberry plants, which have rather shallow root systems. These plants take in most of their water from the top few inches of the soil, which unfortunately tends to dry out the quickest. In addition, those grown in containers dry out faster too. In order to compensate for this, strawberry plants require plenty of water throughout the growing season in order to produce an abundance of fruit. However, too much water can be detrimental to the plants by rotting their crowns. If this happens, not only will plant growth and fruiting be limited, but the plants will likely die as well.
Pests or disease – There are many pests and disease that can affect strawberry plants. When strawberries become infested by insects, such as Lygus bugs, or infected with diseases like root rot, they won’t produce well, if at all. Therefore, you should keep a check on insect pests and try to keep plant foliage as dry as possible during watering to prevent future issues with fungal infections or other problems, treating as needed.
Poor or improper fertilizing – As with water, too little or too much fertilizer can become a problem when growing strawberries. Without the proper nutrients, strawberries will not grow well. As a result, fruit production may be low. Amending the soil with compost or other organic materials will go a long way in adding beneficial nutrients to the plants. However, too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, can also limit fruit production. In fact, too much nitrogen will cause excessive foliage growth with few to no strawberries. So if your strawberry plants are big but no strawberries, cut back on the nitrogen fertilizer. This is also why a strawberry will not bloom. It may help to add more phosphorus to the soil as well if this is the case.
Age of the plant – Finally, if your strawberry plants aren’t producing, they may simply be too young. Most varieties produce little to no fruit within the first year. Instead, the plants focus more energy on establishing strong roots. This is why it is often recommended to pinch out flower buds during the first year as well, which of course is where the fruit comes from. During the second year and later, the plant roots will have become established enough to handle flowering and fruiting.
Quick Guide to Growing Strawberries
- Plant strawberries in spring or fall based on your growing zone. In-ground gardens, raised beds, and containers are all excellent growing areas.
- Give strawberries room for runners by planting them 18 inches apart. Strawberries can be grown in a variety of ways, but make sure they get 8 or more hours of sun and are planted in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
- Give your native soil a boost by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter. Consider a premium bagged potting mix for growing in containers.
- Give plants 1 to 1.5 inches of water weekly, and avoid wetting the leaves.
- Promote excellent fruit production by keeping plants fed with a continuous-release fertilizer.
- Harvest ripe strawberries in the cool of morning and refrigerate them right away.
The Strawberry Life Cycle
Success with strawberries asks that you understand their life cycle. Like most hardy perennials, strawberries die back in winter and start growing vigorously as the soil warms in spring. After bearing fruit (as early as February in Florida, or June farther north), many types of strawberries produce numerous runners with baby plants at the tips. Those runners often root themselves nearby yet remain attached to the mother plant. These types of strawberries produce more fruit if you clip off most of the runners, allowing each plant to produce no more than 3 daughter plants each summer. (Some varieties of strawberries produce few to no runners.)
Exhausted from producing fruit and offspring, strawberries typically take a second rest period during summer’s second half. When kept weeded and lightly watered, most parent plants – and their offspring – perk up and grow again for a while in the fall. Even though it may look like little is going on with strawberries in September, the plants are busy during the fall months developing the latent buds that will grow into next spring’s flowers.
From zone 6 northward, strawberries are best planted in spring so they will be well-rooted by the following winter. Containers can be replanted in late summer and moved to a cool, protected place such as an unheated garage during the coldest months.
From zone 7 southward, strawberries can be planted in fall. (In Florida and other warm, humid coastal areas, many are grown as cool weather annuals.) Once a planting is established, simply lift your healthiest plants each September, and replant them in a freshly renovated site.
Growing strawberries doesn’t have to entail so much work, though. In all areas, strawberries can be allowed to grow into a vibrant green ground cover that requires little maintenance. The plants won’t bear as heavily as more intensively managed plants, but they will still produce delicious berries, year after year.
Growing Tips For Strawberry Plants
with Heather Rhoades
Just about anyone who has bitten into a juicy, sweet strawberry has wondered how to grow a strawberry patch. The idea of having a steady supply of berries from a bed of strawberry plants is tempting and, fortunately, growing strawberries is easy and fun. All you need are some growing tips for strawberries, and tricks to make sure that your strawberry patch keeps you in a steady supply of yummy berries.
How to Plant Strawberries
There are three types of strawberry plants: June bearing, which fruits in June; spring bearing, which provides fruit early in the season; and everbearing, which will fruit all summer long.
If you want to know when to plant strawberries, you’ll plant them as soon as the ground is workable in the spring, with March or April being best time in most areas. This gives them ample time to get established before the warm weather.
If you are wondering how to plant strawberries, do it on a cloudy day. This is so that the plants do not wilt while you are planting them and before you get to the point where you can water them. Do not cover the crown of the plant with dirt. Just barely cover the roots. After planting them, make sure you water them. This gives them a great start.
There are different ways to plant your strawberries:
- First, there is a matted row system. In this system, the plants should be set about 18 to 30 inches (46-76 cm.) apart and rows should be about 3 feet (.91 m.) apart. This allows the daughters to roam throughout the garden area set aside for strawberries. When taking care of strawberries, leave these daughters alone so they can form. This is best for June and spring bearing plants since the more daughters the better.
- If you are planting everbearing strawberries, you’ll want to use the hill system. This system doesn’t allow for daughters, and everbearing grows bigger strawberries, which require one main plant.
Growing Tips for Strawberry Plants
Here are some helpful tips to bear in mind when growing strawberry plants:
- Sun – The number one tip on how to grow strawberries is that they need sun. Make sure that the spot you choose for your strawberry plants get plenty of full sun. Many strawberries produce their blossoms in the early spring. Making sure that they are in a sunny spot will help keep late frosts from killing off those blossoms. Plus, the more sun strawberry plants get, the bigger and better the strawberries they produce.
- Drainage – Another good tip is to make sure where you plant them has good drainage. If your yard is clay-heavy or does not have good drainage, you’ll want to consider either creating a mound of your strawberry plants to grow on or building a raised bed for your strawberries.
- Compost – Compost is another key to growing a strawberry patch that produces big, sweet berries. Make sure that the soil has been fully amended with good compost and composted manure.
- Space – Strawberry plants like to spread out. If you give the strawberry plant runners room, they’ll spread and create more strawberry plants for next year.
- Pinching – I know it can be hard, but with most strawberry plants you will want to pinch the blossoms and strawberry plant runners the first year. This will ensure that your strawberries develop a good root system and will be better able to grow the best strawberry possible.
When the berries on your strawberry plants turn red, you’ll know they are ripe. You can pick these strawberries at that time, going out every other day or so to look for new strawberries before the slugs get them.
If you’re wondering “When is it too late to plant strawberries?” you’re in luck. It’s never too late to buy a hanging basket with mature strawberry plants already growing. Hang these all around your property and pretend you planted them. It’s never too late to plant strawberries in a greenhouse or in a container on your sun porch. If you want to plant your strawberries in the ground, now that is a different story.
Best Time to Plant Strawberries
The ideal time to plant strawberries is after the threat of frost is past in early spring, usually March or April.
In order to answer the question, “When is it too late to plant strawberries,” you need to know a few important facts, such as:
- What’s your planting zone?
- Which type of strawberry do you want to plant?
Learn your planting zone and optimum planting times by consulting an online map of zones.
Types of Strawberries
There are three categories of strawberries, and a wide range of different strawberry varieties. Each has different growing and production patterns. The three categories are:
- Day neutral
Of these, the June-bearing type of strawberry produces once a year, sometime around June. It stops production sometime around July. Everbearing strawberries will fruit twice, once in June and again in late summer. The new day neutral type of strawberry plant should bloom and bear fruit throughout the summer, as long as weather conditions are optimum, sometimes up to October.
When Is It Too Late to Plant Strawberries
Since they bloom and fruit right on up until October, you can successfully plant day neutral strawberries long after the others have stopped production. Actually, it is often recommended that the first year, you pinch off the blossoms anyway. This is done to save nutrients that would otherwise go to fruit production, so they’ll create a more vigorous root system instead. This action helps ensure that the next year’s harvest is more bountiful. So if you don’t intend to have a harvest the first year, it would be acceptable to plant any of the types of strawberries in March, April or perhaps May or June. Planting in the ground in summer becomes more problematic because the intense heat creates so much stress for plants. Nurseries stop carrying certain plants after their ideal planting dates, so you may have to purchase your plants by mail order.
Options for Late Planting
If it’s late in the season and you still want your very own succulent, organic strawberries, there is always a way around the proverbial wisdom of planting in March or April. To recap, here are just a few ways to have more success with planting later than March or April:
- Plant in hanging baskets or containers, as they can be moved out of the intense summer heat when necessary and they’re easy to water and tend.
- Pinch off any blossoms the first year so all of the nutrients go to root growth and not to fruit production. This way it doesn’t matter if your already past the bloom dates.
- Plant everbearing or day neutral strawberries because harvest period is longer. Day neutral strawberries may produce until October.
- Plant in a greenhouse, where you can artificially control all the environment or micro eco-system in a greenhouse, from water to nutrients, temperature, wind, pests and humidity. That means you can grow practically anything year-round if you choose.
- Don’t plant at all. Buy plants that are already mature which are growing in hanging baskets or containers.
We all know what it’s like to come home from the grocery store and dig into the strawberries only to find them too bland, too tart, or too far gone.
And when we get a nice, sweet, juicy batch we inhale them within a day.
Well, if the best tasting strawberries are what you’re after, growing your own is the way to go. You will never taste a sweeter strawberry than one picked fresh from your own garden.
There are multiple varieties to choose from, and as perennials that are hardy in zones 3 through 10, they’ll come back year after year. And many varieties can be harvested from spring until frost.
Still, they aren’t necessarily easy to grow.
Photo by Amber Shidler.
Plants will survive almost effortlessly, but getting a bountiful harvest takes a bit of work.
With a little knowhow, patience, and persistence, you’ll be on your way to enjoying fresh picked, delicious strawberries right out of your own yard.
There are three different types of strawberries, and to get the best harvest you need to know about them.
But first, some general information. Here’s what’s to come in this article:
Keep reading to learn everything you need to grow this beloved fruit.
Growing From Seed vs. Buying Starters
While growing strawberries from seed is possible, it’s much more common and effective to purchase plants or bare roots.
However, if you’re interested in growing a less popular variety, you may have to start plants from seed.
If this is the route you take, sow seeds directly in the garden in early spring. Be prepared to wait for up to month to see any signs of germination.
Plants generally won’t produce any fruit until the following year, so you’ll have to wait.
Honestly, though, if you’re dedicated to achieving the ultimate harvest, you’ll have to wait for a year anyway. Standard practice for growing strawberries is to remove all the flowers the first year – yes, ALL of them. So sad, I know!
But you’ll be grateful you did the following spring, when plants are larger and stronger, and able to produce a much larger harvest.
Okay – I got ahead of myself.
Let’s get back to purchasing plants…
Strawberries are usually sold as individual potted plants, or in bags as bare roots.
Bare roots are just dormant plants. They almost look dead, but they aren’t – or at least, they shouldn’t be!
Here are a couple of things to look for so you know you’re buying a healthy bare root, and not a dead one:
- First, check for signs of rotting or mold and reject the plant if you find these.
- Crowns should be intact.
- Roots should be vigorous.
Once you’ve chosen your plants, it’s time to get them in the ground!
Planting Strawberries and Keeping them Happy
Strawberries can be placed in the ground in early spring as soon as the soil is workable.
Choose a site with loamy, well draining soil. A pH between 6 and 7 is ideal. And full sun, at least 6 hours, is necessary for high yields.
Strawberries will tolerate less than ideal conditions, however, and even do okay in partial shade – you just won’t enjoy as large of a harvest.
Heavy clay soils with poor drainage will be particularly detrimental to overall growth.
Because soil drainage is so important, raised beds are often used for growing strawberries.
Working two to three inches of compost into the soil before planting will improve soil health and water retention, as well as drainage.
A soil test is really the only way to know if your site needs any special attention.
Photo by Amber Shidler.
Before putting bare roots in the ground, remove any old leaves from the crowns and soak the roots in water for a good hour.
When placing roots in the ground, it’s especially important to pay attention to depth. The crown of the plant, where the leaves originate, should sit just on top of the soil.
Too deep and it will rot. Too high and it will dry out. It has to be just right, so think Goldilocks here and plant accordingly.
Also, make sure there is plenty of space for the roots and that they are spread out before covering them with soil.
Keep plants watered well until established.
Soak bare roots for at least an hour before planting.
Once roots are established, runners will start to form – but we will get into how to deal with those when we talk about the different types a little later.
It’s also important to thoroughly weed the area ahead of time, and keep it weed free throughout the growing season. Weeds can easily outcompete the shallow roots of strawberries for water and nutrients.
Once in the ground, it’s best to cultivate the soil around strawberries regularly with a hoe. Work along the soil surface, uprooting any weed seedlings.
Be careful not to disturb the soil more than an inch below the surface – you might damage the roots. Not to mention, new weed seeds will find their way to the soil surface where they’ll be able to germinate.
Protecting and Replacing Plants
If your area experiences particularly cold winters, choose a fitting variety. Also consider adding a layer of mulch, like straw, over your crop in the winter to protect the crowns.
Flowers that show up the earliest tend to produce the largest fruit. But flowers are susceptible to frost early in the season.
So, it’s in your best interest to cover your strawberry patch if temperatures dip below freezing in the spring.
Even though strawberries will keep coming back year after year, they’re most productive within their first 2 to 5 years of life. It’s common practice to replace them every few years, as you notice a drop in productivity.
Photo by Amber Shidler.
Purchase new starters – don’t dig up runners from the old patch. This way you can guarantee healthy, disease-free plants.
Also, pick a new site for your replacements, which will help to avoid any pests and diseases that may have built up in the soil over the years.
Be careful to avoid areas of the garden that eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, or potatoes have recently inhabited. They are all prone to verticillium wilt, which can also infect strawberries.
The Three Types
Strawberries fall under one of three types: June-bearing, everbearing, or day neutral.
Pay attention to the type you buy, and hold on to the tag so you won’t forget.
If the tag doesn’t make clear which type it is, do some research online. Knowing the type will make all the difference in your efforts to produce a delicious harvest that meets your needs.
This is the most commonly grown type. Buds form in the fall and then bloom the following spring, producing one large harvest, typically in June.
This is great if you want to make jam or freeze large batches of fruit.
Runners, which are above-ground stems that form from the crown, take root and produce new plants.
Runners on June-bearers can be left to root, forming a thick mat of green growth, referred to as the “matted row method.”
Just don’t let your row get too wide. Ideally, it should be less than 18 inches across. Within the row, plants should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart.
Photo by Amber Shidler.
June-bearers especially benefit from removing all of the flowers in the first year. This way, they can focus all their energy on producing more runners.
After harvesting each year, they need to be “renovated” – which refers to the process of mowing or cutting leaves back to just an inch or so above the crown.
You’ll also want to narrow the rows to about a foot wide, and remove any old plants that aren’t producing as well.
Rake out all leaves and compost them if they’re healthy, and weed the area.
The idea is to encourage new growth, especially new runners, since young plants produce the most fruit.
Since runners are allowed to regenerate the crop, June bearers typically produce a good harvest for a number of years.
Everbearing varieties form buds when days are long, which usually results in two main harvests – one in June and another in early fall.
Plants should be spaced 12 to 15 inches apart, about three to four rows wide.
For the largest harvest, runners of everbearers should be pinched off. Runners on this type of plant aren’t very vigorous, and if left to grow, you’ll just end up with smaller, less productive plants overall.
Instead, you’ll want to encourage the growth of one large, healthy plant.
To further encourage well-established roots, remove the flowers.
Photo by Amber Shidler.
Feel like your patience is being tested? There’s a bright side with this one: You can start letting flowers bloom in July and beyond.
Come August, you should be able to enjoy your first harvest, which will continue on until frost.
So, that’s the bright side. There’s also a not-so-bright side…
Because you’re preventing runners, which are the mechanism by which these plants naturally regenerate themselves, you will likely notice a dip in fruit production within just a couple of seasons.
Because of this, it’s standard to replace everbearers every two to three years.
Day-neutral strawberries are different because they don’t rely on the length of day to begin flowering.
Instead, they are sensitive to temperature. They will produce fruit in temperatures as low as 35°F, but anything above 75°F and flower production will stop.
In cooler areas, this is great! You’ll be harvesting fruit from early spring until frost.
In areas with warmer summers, harvest periods will be similar to that of everbearers – one in spring, and one in late fall.
General requirements for day-neutral varieties follow the same recommendations as everbearers, including removing runners and flowers.
Let flowers go to fruit once you reach July though, for a late summer/early fall harvest!
Not Without Their Issues: Pests and Diseases
There are a number of diseases that can infect strawberries, including leaf blight, leaf scorch, leaf spot, verticillium wilt, and powdery mildew.
Many of these, however, can be greatly reduced by picking the right location for plants.
Full sun and well-draining soil go a long way to reduce the occurrence of diseases. Keep rows narrow and weed free to improve air circulation.
Also, avoid watering at night. Wet leaves in the cool of night are an invitation to many diseases and fungi.
Look for disease resistant varieties if possible.
Aside from diseases, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a number of critters.
While you’re at the store picking up your strawberries or shopping online, grab some bird netting. Trust me. This one is a great product from NaiteNet, and it’s available on Amazon.
Gardener House Berry Netting, 7′ x 20′
Birds are great at getting to your delicious fruit the day before you plan to harvest. Netting can help to avoid that pang of disappointment.
Deer might take a bite or two out of plants as well, like in my case where there are plenty of them living in the area.
Intruders that are smaller but often just as damaging include slugs, spider mites, bud weevils, and spittlebugs.
Sadly, the deer got to this bunch. Photo by Amber Shidler.
Healthy plants can handle some damage. But slugs and weevils in particular have the biggest impact on harvest.
Slugs bite chunks directly out of the fruit, and weevils bore into buds with their curved snouts and suck the pollen out.
If the problem is severe, look into using diatomaceous earth for slugs and horticultural oils for weevils. Also, pick off any buds if you notice they’re damaged or aren’t producing a berry.
Harvest and Delicious Uses
You’ll know that your berries are ready to harvest when they’re red all over and fully ripened.
Pay attention to the days to maturity on the plant tags that they came with, so you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect.
Be careful not to damage the plants or pull them out of the ground when you’re harvesting. Rather than pulling on the berries, keep those green tops intact and snip the stems with clean scissors or pruners.
Wait a few days between harvests if you can, to avoid stressing the plants. And pick in the cool of the morning since your fruit will bruise less easily than it will when the sun is beating down in the afternoon.
Keep freshly picked berries cool and wait to wash until you’re ready to use them.
If you have enough plants to get a big yield, there are so many wonderful things that you can do with strawberries beyond eating them out of hand. Here are a few tantalizing suggestions:
First, try a strawberry blueberry crumble for dessert, or a slice of classic strawberry rhubarb pie. Both of these recipes can be found on our sister site, Foodal. And to grow your own rhubarb alongside the berries, read our article for expert tips.
Not quite ready to pick, but almost there!
Not in the mood for pie? Try this strawberry rhubarb butter from Erika’s Gluten Free Kitchen. Or, if it’s too hot to bake, you can’t go wrong with a simple strawberry fool, like this one from The Magic Saucepan.
A bright and tasty strawberry balsamic vinaigrette makes a tasty addition to garden fresh salads. Try this version from our friends at The Fitchen.
Summer strawberry popsicles are a tasty combo made with lime and watermelon. The Domestic Dietitian shares the recipe for this one.
No Going Back
This classic, beloved fruit is in high demand. And, ranked as number one on the EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list, buying organic can be pricey.
But let’s be honest – picking strawberries out at the grocery store is a gamble.
In my experience, they are almost never as sweet and juicy as I imagine they will be, especially when they are out of season.
Once you get a taste of fresh picked, homegrown strawberries, you’ll want more. And more. And more.
You know what they’re like?
Delicious. Every. Time.
It may take some trial and error, but as perennials, strawberries are a little more forgiving than annual edibles.
And even if you don’t get a great harvest with your first go, you’ll still likely get a little something sweet to snack on.
Have you ever tried growing strawberries? What’s holding you back? Leave a comment below!
For more berry growing inspiration, you’ll need these guides:
- How to Grow Elderberries
- The Ultimate Fall Berry Planting Guide
- How to Plant and Grow Ground Cherry, A Tasty, Tropical Berry
Photos by Amber Shidler © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via NaiteNet. Uncredited photos: . With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
About Amber Shidler
Amber Shidler lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a dual bachelor’s degree in botany and geography. For four years she worked as a horticulturist, but is now a stay-at-home mom. With experience in landscape design, installation, and maintenance she has set her sights on turning her tenth-of-an-acre lot into a productive oasis. Amber is passionate about all things gardening, especially growing and enjoying organic food.
By Erin Huffstetler | 03/01/2017 |
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Yesterday my husband and I planted our strawberries. I took lots of pictures, so you could see how it’s done.
I always order bareroot strawberries. They’re cheaper and require less digging to plant. This time I ordered a june-bearing strawberry, called Flavorfest. It’s a newer variety that’s supposed to produce tons of berries and be incredibly disease resistant. Time will tell.
When you buy strawberries, there are two main types to choose from: june-bearing and everbearing/day-neutral. Those names can be a bit misleading because June-bearing strawberries may not fruit in June, and everbearing strawberries don’t necessarily produce berries all season long.
The main thing to know is that june-bearing strawberries produce one big three-week-long crop of berries in the late spring/early summer, while everbearing/day-neutral berries might produce two smaller harvests: one in the summer and one in the fall, or produce berries continuously from spring to fall.
If you live somewhere like New England, your june-bearing strawberries really will fruit in June. Here in Tennessee, strawberries are usually ready for harvest in May. In Florida, strawberry season kicks off in February.
I grew everbearing strawberries for years, but decided to switch to june-bearing for a few reasons, but mainly because I wanted the bigger berries and bigger yields that june-bearing strawberries are known for. With everbearing strawberries, it can be hard to get enough berries at one time to make jam. They’re better for keeping you in berries for your cereal.
When you order bareroot strawberries, this is what you get in the mail. They don’t look like much, but they snap out of dormancy pretty quickly, once you get them planted.
If you buy your strawberries through a mail-order garden company, they should ship your strawberries when it’s the right time to plant them, but a good rule of thumb is to plant strawberries in the early spring, just as soon as the soil can be worked. That’s usually works out to being about six weeks before the last frost. I tend to plant my strawberries in late February or early March, but your planting time may be earlier or later, depending on where you live. Just look up the last frost date for your area to gauge when you should plant yours.
Planting strawberries is pretty straightforward. There are just a couple things that you need to know. First, be sure to get your plants in the ground as soon after they arrive as you can. When you’re dealing with bareroot plants, it’s important not to let the roots dry out. Once you receive a shipping confirmation, go ahead and prepare the bed that you’ve chosen for your strawberry patch. Pull weeds and work some compost into the soil, so everything will be ready to go.
If you want your strawberries to thrive, it’s important to plant them to the right depth. They should be planted so that the crown sits above the soil line, and all of the roots are buried below. Take a look at this picture to see what I mean.
To make quick work of the planting, we use a dibble to dig our holes.
Just plunge it into the ground where you want your plant, and it makes the perfect hole to tuck the roots into.
Strawberries should be planted 12-18-inches apart, and they prefer full-sun and slightly acidic soil (not a problem here in the south). We opted to plant ours 12-inches apart. They’re in a long bed that extends down the length of our driveway. We have 75 plants in total. You can see my strawberry patch and the rest of my garden here.
Do not plant strawberries where peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, melons or other strawberry plants have been grown. They’re susceptible to the same diseases. One source I read said you should wait 5-8 years before planting in beds where any of these plants have grown. That makes crop rotation a little tricky. I have a pretty small yard, so I don’t have much choice but to plant my strawberries in the same spot again and again. So far I’ve gotten away with it.
Expect to get at least a quart of berries from each plant, under optimal growing conditions. This number will vary a bit depending on the variety, growing conditions and how much attention you give your plants. Younger plants will produce more, too. To keep your yields up, plan to replace your strawberry plants every three years. Over time strawberry plants tend to produce smaller harvests and smaller berries, and the longer they’re in the ground, the more susceptible they become to disease and crown rot. I’ve left strawberries in the ground past the three year mark, but eventually most of the plants die off and the weeds take over. Strawberries don’t compete well with weeds.
Here’s one of our freshly planted strawberry plants. They look pretty sickly when they first go in the ground, but within days they’ll spring to life.
Here’s one of our old plants that I just dug up. See how great it looks, even in March?
Your strawberry plants will form runners, and spread to fill up the bed pretty quickly. For maximum yield, it’s recommended that you pinch off all the flowers the first year. It’s not easy convincing yourself to do it, but you’ll get a nice pay off, if you do.
Mulch your strawberry patch heavily, so it retains moisture between waterings. Leaves have become my go-to mulch. Strawberries need about an inch of rain each week.
Birds love strawberries, so if you don’t want to share, you may want to find ways to protect your strawberry patch. This is especially important, if you’re growing everbearing strawberries. With fewer berries to go around, it can be frustrating to see the birds get to them first.
Companion Plants for Strawberries
To Deter Pests, Plant Strawberries With …
- Borage (it attracts predatory wasps that’ll eat pests)
- Thyme (the scent repels a range of pests)
- Onions (the scent repels a range of pests)
To Attract Pollinators, Plant Your Strawberries With …
- Borage (it attracts bees and wasps
To Make the Most of Your Garden Space, Plant Your Strawberries With …
To Improve Growth and Flavor, Plant Your Strawberries With …
- Beans (they’re a nitrogen fixer)
- Borage (it’ll increase productivity and flavor)
- Onions (they’ll increase disease resistance)
Do Not Plant Strawberries With …
- Brussels sprouts
How Many Strawberries Should I Plant?
During a good growing season, you can expect to get one to two quarts of berries per june-bearing plant. That’s roughly one-and-a-half to three pounds of fruit. According to the USDA the average American eats five pounds of berries each year. Based on that number, you would need to grow two plants per person. If your family eats strawberries more regularly, or you plan to can or freeze a portion of your harvest, scale the number up accordingly.
More Planting Help
- Square Foot Planting Guide
- Dibble Planting Guide
- How to Grow Potatoes in Cages
Strawberry Plant Feeding: Tips On Fertilizing Strawberry Plants
I don’t care what the calendar says; summer has officially started for me when the strawberries start fruiting. We grow the most common type of strawberry, June-bearing, but whichever type you grow, knowing how and when to fertilize strawberries is the key to an abundant harvest of large, luscious berries. The following information on strawberry plant feeding will help you attain that goal.
Prior to Fertilizing Strawberry Plants
Strawberries are resilient and can grow in many different settings. Knowing when and how to fertilize strawberry plants will ensure a bountiful harvest, but along with strawberry plant feeding, there are a few other tasks to do to ensure healthy plants that will provide the biggest yields.
Plant the berries in an area that receives at least 6 hours of full sun in well-draining soil in USDA zones 5-8. They prefer rich, fertile soil that contains plenty of organic matter.
Once you have the berries situated, it is important to water them regularly. Strawberries dislike wet soil, but they also don’t tolerate drought well, so be consistent in your watering.
Keep the area around the berry plants free of weeds and keep an eye out for any signs of disease or pests. A layer of mulch, like straw, underneath the leaves of the plants will prevent water splashing onto the soil and then onto the foliage from passing on soil pathogens. Remove any dead or decaying foliage as well, as soon as you spot it.
Also, don’t plant the berries in an area that has previously been home to tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, or raspberries. Diseases or insects that may have plagued those crops can be carried over and affect the strawberries.
How to Fertilize Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants need a lot of nitrogen in early spring and again in late fall as they are sending out runners and producing berries. Ideally, you have prepared the soil before planting the berries by amending with compost or manure. This will enable you to lessen or eliminate the amount of additional fertilizer the plants need.
Otherwise, fertilizer for strawberries may be a commercial 10-10-10 food or, if you are growing organically, any of a number of organic fertilizers.
If you are using a 10-10-10 fertilizer for strawberries, the basic rule of thumb is to add 1 pound of fertilizer per 20-foot row of strawberries one month after they are first planted. For berries that are over a year old, fertilize once a year after the plant has produced fruit, in the mid- to late summer but definitely before September. Use ½ pound of 10-10-10 per 20-foot row of strawberries.
For June bearing strawberries, avoid fertilizing in the spring since the resulting increased foliage growth cannot only increase the incidence of disease, but also produce soft berries. Soft berries are more susceptible to fruit rots, which can in turn reduce your overall yield. Fertilize June bearing varieties after the last harvest of the season with 1 pound of 10-10-10 per 20-foot row.
In either case, apply the fertilizer around the base of each berry plant and water in well with about an inch of irrigation.
If, on the other hand, you are devoted to growing the fruit organically, introduce aged manure to increase the nitrogen. Don’t use fresh manure. Other organic options for fertilizing strawberries include blood meal, which contains 13% nitrogen; fish meal, soy meal, or alfalfa meal. Feather meal can also increase the nitrogen level, but it releases very slowly.