By Beth Asher

Strawberries are home garden favorites grown for canning, freezing and eating out of hand. Backyard fruit growers can count on 4 to 5 years of productive fruiting if the plants are properly planted and maintained.

Strawberries are considered fruiting perennials. June-bearing plants are called single crop, while plants that have a second small crop in summer are called everbearing. Both can be planted at the same time.

Day neutral strawberries produce flower buds and fruit regardless of the day length. To get a good crop the first year, commercial growers at Raintree Nursery in Morton, Washington, recommend planting day neutral strawberries by April 15.

Bare root strawberries arrive in nurseries and garden centers from mid-January through March while still dormant. Flats of potted strawberries show up as the weather warms (April through early May).

Dormant bare root strawberries (called crowns) should be planted in late March through April. Temperatures at night should be above 25 degrees, according to Danny L. Barney, extension horticulture specialist at the University of Idaho.

Potted strawberry stock can be planted spring through early fall. May is often the time when containerized strawberries arrive in garden centers and is a preferred planting time, according to experts at the Washington State University Extension.