By Marie Roberts
Strawberry varieties are abundant, but care should be taken to choose varieties well adapted to a particular location. Strawberries fall into three categories– “early-bearing” (bear fruit once a season), “ever-bearers” (bear fruit twice a season), and “day-neutral” (bear fruit throughout the growing season). Tristar strawberry is a variety that will decrease its production after the first year, so it’s best to treat Tristar as an annual (completes its growing cycle in one season), according to extension horticulturalist B. Rosie Lerner; Purdue University. Tristar, like other varieties of strawberries, can be grown in hanging baskets, or in other containers—even in a sack of potting soil laying on the ground.
Choose a full-sun location and test the soil pH with a test kit (or have sample tested by local extension office) 4 to 6 months before planting.
Prepare soil by tilling or digging and create raised beds if drainage is an issue in the area if necessary—strawberries prefer well-drained soil and won’t tolerate standing in water.
Raise the pH with garden lime (according to package instructions) if it is too low. Strawberries require a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Space rows 3 ½ to 4 feet apart and plant bareroot plants 1 ½ to 2 feet apart after danger of frost has passed. Set the plants in the soil with the crown (part where leaves grow from) of the plant even with the top of the soil. Be sure the roots are completely covered and no leaves from the crown of the plant are covered.
Gently press the soil down around the plant and water thoroughly.
Weed the plants every couple of weeks or use an organic, loose mulch, or weed cloth to control weeds and aid in water retention. Use caution if hoeing weeds because strawberry roots are shallow.
Water when the top inch of soil is dry.
Encourage runnering (horizontal stems that will produce new plants from the mother plant) by pinching blossoms that will appear soon after planting (this will delay the date of first harvest).
Pinch blossoms off Tristar plants if looking for later season berries when planting with earlier-bearing varieties.
Be aware–Day-neutral varieties like Tristar tend to decrease in production during very hot weather
Tristar strawberry has not generally performed well in North Carolina, according to extension literature.