About Growing Strawberries

By Melissa Bone

Strawberries are attractive, delicious, nutritious and fairly easy to grow. There are over 600 varieties to choose from. Strawberries are one of the first harvests of the gardening season and the everbearing plants will even produce another harvest in the fall. Strawberries picked right off the plant taste so much better than their supermarket counterparts–they make a great plant for gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

Strawberries have been a favorite fruit for centuries. The word “strawberry” comes from the word “streoberie”, and Anglo-Saxon word used until the year 1538. Strawberries have been used as a symbol for love, purity, passion and perfection. In medieval times, stonemasons would cut designs into religious structures to symbolize perfection.

Growing strawberries has a host of benefits. They can be grown just about anywhere. They can be grown in a sprawling garden or in a pot on a small apartment patio. In addition to being fairly easy to grow, strawberries are good for health too. They are high in phytonutrients, vitamin C, as well as other vitamins. Strawberries have powerful antioxidant properties and have been linked to protecting against cancer and heart disease.

Strawberry plants need at least six hours of sunlight to grow properly. When choosing a site for your strawberries, make sure there is plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil. Strawberries grow best in soils with a pH of 5.3-6.5, but can also tolerate soils between 5.0 and 7.0. Strawberry plants can be grown in pots, raised beds, matted rows, spaced rows or in hills. Make sure to buy disease resistant plants, and don’t plant them in soil where tomatoes, potatoes or peppers have grown in the past three years.

There are basically three types of strawberry plants. June bearing strawberries are the most popular. They produce large strawberries and June bearing plants bear fruit all at once between a two-and-three week time period in the spring. Everbearing plants do not produce fruit all season as the name suggests. They produce a crop in the spring and another in the fall. Day-neutral strawberries are the third type of plant. They produce well during the cooler weather. When the summer heat comes, the day-neutral plants stop flowering and bearing fruit. If the weather stays on the cool side, or the plants are protected from the heat, day-neutral strawberries can bear fruit from spring until fall.

Early spring is the best time to plant strawberries. Cover the roots with soil, leaving the crown of the plant at the soils surface. During the first season, remove all blossoms from June bearing plants. This will make your strawberry harvests larger and the plants will send out more runners in subsequent seasons. Remove the blossoms from everbearing and day-neutral plants for the first six weeks after planting. After six weeks, the fruit can be allowed to develop.

Prepare soil with a basic fertilizer mix before planting strawberries. A second application of fertilizer can be applied in the second season after renovation (taking steps to ensure high yielding plants for the following year). Mulch plants with a layer of stray or pine needles to prepare for the winter season. Remove mulch in early spring, but be sure to cover plants if a spring frost is predicted. You can use old blankets to protect your plants.



Why Do My Strawberry Plants Not Produce Strawberries

By Beverly Nation

If you are dismayed that your healthy strawberry plants produce runners without any fruit, you must first be certain of the type of strawberry plant you have. June strawberries produce fruit in early, middle or late spring. Ever-bearing strawberries produce fruit during three periods: in spring, summer and fall. Day neutral strawberries produce fruit during the entire growing season from spring to fall. If you have identified the type of strawberry plants you have and determined they are not producing fruit as they should, you can encourage the plants to bloom and produce strawberries.

Plant strawberry cultivars determined to grow well in your climate. Research what strawberry plants thrive in your region. Plants developed for Minnesota might not grow well in Texas. When plants are not suited for the climate, they will not produce fruit.

Test the soil in your garden before planting strawberries. They need a pH level between 5.5 to 6.5. If the pH is too low, add dolomitic lime. If you are using a garden area that previously grew grass, wait one year before planting strawberries. If pH levels are off, plants will not produce fruit.

Pinch off the flowers of June strawberry plants when they appear throughout the first growing season. This will ensure robust root development and promote abundant fruit production the next year. Remove flowers on ever-bearing and day neutral strawberries until June 30. Plants will then produce fruit in summer and fall.

Scatter fertilizer such as 10-10-10 over the soil before setting strawberry plants. Work the fertilizer into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. During the second growing season and each year thereafter, fertilize again in July. Water carefully so fertilizer soaks down into the roots. Avoid using too much fertilizer. This causes abundant leaf growth and diminishes fruit production. Brush off any fertilizer that falls on leaves.

Water your strawberry plants regularly. Their shallow root system can dry out easily on hot summer days. Plants will not produce fruit if they are too thirsty. In addition, overwatering stops fruit production. The crowns of the plants can rot if under water or planted in soil that is not well-drained.

Renovate your strawberry patch starting the third or fourth growing season. Thin plants, leaving the most healthy with spacing of 6 inches apart on all sides.

When planting strawberries, set them so the roots are just below the soil’s surface. Do not cover the crown. This will lead to poor fruit production.


When to Plant Strawberries in Zone 6

By Samantha Volz

The United States Department of Agriculture splits the country up into zones to make it easier to understand how plants grow in different climates. The zones are determined by the area’s average minimum temperature. In zone 6, which includes parts of California, Texas and even southern areas of Pennsylvania, that temperature is minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Strawberry planting must take place in the spring in these areas to achieve a healthy crop.

For zone 6, the goal is to plant strawberries after the threat of frost is mostly gone but before the temperatures get too high. The optimal month for planting strawberries is March in these areas. The chance of frost has all but passed and there are still at least two to three months before the summer heat will beat down on the berries. If a surprise frost takes place, the strawberries should be able to withstand a short burst of cold.

Plant strawberries in an area of your garden or yard that receives at least seven hours of full sun each day. Strong sunlight will ensure larger and healthier fruit. The vine structure of the strawberry plant means that you can plant them in hanging pots, on arbors or trellises like grapes or on the ground. As attractive as these berries are to us, they also appeal to deer, rabbits and birds, so if you ever see these critters in your yard or garden, keep your berries in an area that is protected by fences or arbors.

Strawberries require moist but well-draining soil or else they can suffer from rot and similar diseases. Before planting, amend your soil with organic amendments like aged manure or compost to increase drainage. Space multiple strawberry plants at least 18 inches apart; if planting in rows, space rows at least 3 feet apart so that you have room to walk among the plants to care for or harvest the berries without stepping on others.

Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of pine straw mulch around the strawberries as soon as you see the plant start to bloom. This will insulate the strawberries from extreme heat as summer approaches. Mulch also helps the soil around the berries maintain moisture, preventing the berries from drying out. Water strawberries with 1 to 2 inches of water every week, depending on rainfall. In general, water them whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch to keep them consistently moist. Fertilize the plants with organic liquid fertilizer every three weeks during the growing season (generally until the end of summer or early fall) to encourage large and healthy berries.


When to Plant Strawberries in Zone 5

By Jacob J. Wright

The long winter in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 5 makes spring planting of strawberry plants best. This gives the young plants as long a growing season as possible to establish roots before winter cold sets in again.

Strawberry plants will tolerate mild subfreezing temperatures and frosts. In USDA zone 5, the ideal time to plant strawberries to create a new bed is in early spring — late March through April. Wait until the frost leaves the ground and the soil is no longer mucky.

Plant all strawberry types and varieties in spring for best establishment. June-bearing strawberries spread by running stems to create a thicket. Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries are maintained as tidy clumps.

After planting, pluck off all flowers on everbearing and day-neutral strawberry varieties until the plants have been in the ground for six weeks. Remove the flowers from June-bearing strawberries the entire first year to prevent berry production. Removing flowers focuses plant energy to create strong root systems and healthy foliage.

Plant the crown of the strawberry, the transitional area where stems united to then become roots, even with the soil. Planting too deeply encourages plant rot while planting too shallowly leads to dehydration.


When to Plant Strawberries in Zone 4

By Cheryl Munson

Zone 4 of the USDA hardiness map covers the northern Midwest regions of the United States, which includes the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The University of Iowa Extension recommends planting strawberries in March and April.

June bearing strawberry varieties produce the largest and earliest crops. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends Earliglow for early blooming strawberries, Kent and Mesabi for mid-season blooms, and Winona for a late summer strawberry harvest.

Everbearing strawberry varieties produce two crops in a single season. The first crop will be ready to harvest in late spring or early summer, and the second crop will be ready in the early fall. Fort Laramie and Ogallala varieties grow best in Zone 4 according to the University of Minnesota.

Day-neutral strawberries produce fruit the entire growing season. Zone 4 day-neutral varieties include Tribute and Tristar.


When to Plant Strawberries in West Virginia

By Lillian Webster

Strawberries can be grown in most parts of West Virginia. During the winter, the plants should be continually cultivated when possible, and mulch should be applied. New plants can go into the ground in the spring.

Strawberries should be planted before the rainy season begins in West Virginia. The best time to set the plants is between mid-March and mid-April. If you need to store the plants before setting them in the ground, they are best kept in a cool basement.

Strawberries will bear fruit about one month after the first bloom, typically in late May. Berries should be harvested about every other day, for a total of about seven pickings.

Strawberries thrive in a soil with a pH level of at least 5.0 — ideally, the pH will be between 5.8 and 6.5. The soil should be plowed or tilled as soon as possible after March 1 in preparation for strawberry planting. If applying fertilizer, use a 5-10-10 formula.


When to Plant Strawberries in Pots to Get Spring Berries

By Irum Sarfaraz

Strawberries are very hardy perennials that grow with only a little bit of care and attention in limited space. They should be well weeded and pruned to obtain a good harvest. Strawberries grow very well in containers and hanging baskets. There are also special strawberry pots which provide added ease in harvesting the fruit. Strawberries are best planted in raised beds and larger pots as this allows adequate watering without getting the leaves too wet. To get a spring harvest, strawberries need to be planted in pots in September.

Strawberries can be very easily grown in containers and pots as long as they are kept amply watered. When planting in pots plant them in about 6 inches of soil. In order to get berries in spring, plant the strawberries by September. To get an even earlier harvest move the plants indoors in February. Then pollinate them by brushing from flower to flower with a delicate paintbrush, picking and transferring the yellow pollen from one flower to the next. Prepare a good soil for planting strawberries. The roots of strawberry plants are shallow rooted as compared to most other fruit plants and they have to get all their nutrition and moisture from the topsoil.

The soil for planting strawberries needs to be light, slightly acid and well enriched with compost, peat or manure. This helps to hold in moisture during dry weather. The same soil which is good for vegetables is usually optimal for strawberries as well.

Do not plant strawberries in nematode-infested soil. Nematodes are commonly found in soil in warmer climates but can be present in other areas, too. It you suspect nematodes in the soil, it is best to sterilize the soil before planting strawberries.

The best time to plant strawberries is early spring. When planting strawberries in containers, pots and jars plant them in fall and place them in a sheltered area. It is also recommended to mulch them heavily to provide insulation.


When to Plant Strawberries in Northeast Ohio

By Kim Kenney

Strawberries are a popular choice for home gardeners because they are easy to plant, use little space and produce fruit quickly. Gardeners can expect to harvest fruit from the same strawberry plants for up to three years. Most of Ohio’s commercial strawberry farms are located in Northeast and Central Ohio.

In Northeast Ohio, plant strawberries between April 15 and May 15, according to Integrated Pest Management Centers. The Ohio State University Extension does not recommend planting strawberries in the fall because young plants can be injured by the freeze-thaw cycle.

June-bearing strawberry plants will not produce a full crop of fruit until the season after they are planted, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Day-neutral strawberry plants will produce fruit the first season they are planted. Both types are ready to be harvested in late May or June.

June-bearing strawberry varieties recommended for Ohio include Earliglow, Lateglow, Lester, Redchief, Surecrop, Midway, Guardian, Delite and Kent. Tribute and Tristar day-neutral varieties grow well in Ohio.


When to Plant Strawberries in North Carolina

By Lillian Webster

Strawberries can survive in any region throughout North Carolina. The plants thrive in full sunlight; do not plant strawberries in a low-lying area prone to a spring frost.

Strawberries require different planting times for specific regions of North Carolina. Plant strawberry plants during March in the eastern part of the state; in the western part of the state and in the mountains, plant them in late March to April.

In eastern North Carolina, strawberries are ready for harvest starting in April. If you plant in the western part of the state, anticipate growth in early May, while mountain strawberries are ready for harvest at the end of May. Pick strawberries in the morning, while they are still cool.

Test the soil four to six months before planting. Strawberries will thrive in a soil with a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5. If the pH balance is low, raise it by treating the soil with dolomitic lime.


When to Plant Strawberries in Mississippi

By Cheryl Munson

The best time of year to plant strawberries in Mississippi depends largely on the weather. If you’re willing to start the plants indoors, you’ll have a little more flexibility with the timing.

Plant strawberries outdoors in Mississippi after all signs of frost to enjoy an early spring harvest. Seedlings from plants sown indoors or purchased from a nursery are typically planted from March through May.

Start outdoor container plantings from seed or seedlings when the nighttime temperatures no longer fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the container in a location that will receive as much full daytime sun as possible and keep the container well watered.

You can grow strawberries indoors in pots and plant the seeds or seedlings whenever you wish. Just keep the soil moist and eliminate exposure to temperatures below freezing. Locate the pot in a spot that will receive full sun throughout the day.

Commercial growers plant in the spring to harvest strawberries for sale in the late summer and early fall months and then again in late summer and early fall months to meet demand for fresh strawberries in the spring.