By Jenny Harrington

Bare-root strawberry plants are dormant plants. They are not planted in nursery pots or soil, instead they are a bare-root with what appears to be shriveled foliage or stems attached. Once planted, the strawberry plants begin producing new leaves and quickly wake up from dormancy. Bare-root plants are often sold by nurseries and seed catalogs, as the dormant plants are simpler to package and ship. Planting them properly ensures they wake up from dormancy and begin producing as soon as possible.

Choose a well-draining bed that receives full sun. Lay a 3-inch layer of compost over the garden bed and till it to a 12-inch depth using a hoe or power tiller. Work in 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer per every 100 square feet of garden bed.

Fill a bucket with warm water. Set the bare-root plants in the bucket so the roots are underwater. Allow them to soak for 20 minutes so the roots can rehydrate and begin breaking dormancy.

Dig your planting holes to the same depth as the length of the roots and twice as wide. Spread the roots out in the hole and refill the hole with soil. Keep the plant so the crown, the place where the stems emerge from the roots, sits right at soil level. Space the strawberry plants 18 inches apart in rows. Space the rows 3 feet apart.

Water immediately after planting, thoroughly moistening the soil around each plant. Lay down a 2-inch layer of organic mulch, such as straw or bark, around each plant to help preserve soil moisture, then continue to provide 1 to 2 inches of water a week to the bed.

Plant bare-root ever-bearing and day-neutralstrawberries outside after all frost danger is past in your area. Plant June-bearing varieties in early spring once the soil is thawed enough to work.

Bare-root strawberry plants will begin leafing by early summer after planting.

If you can’t plant the bare-root plants right away, store them in a cool place for one to two days. For longer storage, plant them in potting soil in a container. Water them and place them where they can receive some light.