Strawberry Flowers

strawberry flowersStrawberry Flowers: Introduction

Strawberry flowers are the means by which strawberry plants ultimately produce fruit.  But, they are tremendously intricate.  The basics of strawberry flowers will be briefly discussed here, including how they grow from strawberry plants and what to do with them (and when).

Origins of Strawberry Flowers

Strawberry flowers have an interesting life.  Different types of strawberry plants produce them at different times.  But, since the June-bearing strawberry has captured the hearts and minds of most gardeners who plant strawberry plants, its flowers will be the focus of this post.

June-bearing strawberries produce a single crop of strawberries over two to three weeks during the late spring or early summer (sometimes earlier), usually around June (see the Strawberry Varieties page for more details).  Like most fruit, strawberries come from the delicate flowers that each strawberry plant produces.  However, the small strawberry flowers that strut their stuff in the spring begin their life much earlier.

Strawberry flowers originate in the crowns of strawberry plants.  Many months before the flowers emerge an grow upward, they begin their life as tiny flower buds within a strawberry plant.  This bud formation is critical for next year’s crop and occurs after the harvest is completed.  After harvest and renovation (see the Growing Strawberries page for more details), the flower buds begin to form toward the end of summer or early fall.

In order for the strawberry flowers to be generated as strawberry flower buds, the plant needs to continue to be well tended.  If water is not adequate during the period of strawberry flower bud formation, fewer buds will form.  Consequently, the following spring’s harvest will be significantly reduced.  If the strawberry plants are well tended, the strawberry flower buds should form, go dormant during the winter, and then burst forth again in the spring.  And, the more flowers there are, the more fruit you can harvest!

What Do You Do with Strawberry Flowers?

For June-bearing strawberries, special attention should be paid to the strawberry plant’s flowers.  Generally, if you order strawberry plants online, they will be shipped to you in the spring.  Once received, they should be planted as soon as possible.  But, if they were bare-root strawberry plants or strawberry crowns only, it is going to take them some time to establish themselves.

The plants don’t realize this of course, and will try to produce strawberries by sending forth their flowers.  This is not good for the plants or the harvest.  The already-weakened plants need all the energy they can muster to take root and make a new home.  If they expend the energy on berry production, they will not establish themselves well.  This can compromise the plant’s future production as well.  Additionally, since the just-shipped plants are weak anyway, they have less energy to devote to strawberry production.  This results in smaller, puny strawberries in the same year you order and plant new strawberry plants.

Te solution is to pinch off or cut off all flowers from every new strawberry plant for the first growing season, allowing the strawberry plants to root and grow without distraction.  Simply check the plants once a week and remove any flowers you find.  Most June-bearing strawberries will be completely done producing flowers sometime in July (usually early July).  Although not specifically addressing day-neutral or everbearing strawberry varieties here, new plants of each of those types should have their blossoms removed until early July also.  However, after July, any strawberry flowers that bloom can be left to develop into strawberries.

Strawberry Flower Variability

Strawberry flowers are not all identical.  Different varieties have different numbers of petals and relative positions of their strawberry flowers.  Some hybrid strawberry plants even have flowers that are pink or other colors.  However, all strawberries have flowers.  Most strawberry flowers will have 6 petals, but anywhere from 5 to 8 petals on a strawberry flower is not uncommon.

There is also variability among strawberry plants when it comes to the position of the strawberry flowers in relation to the foliage.  It is very common for the level of the strawberry flower to be even with the foliage or exposed by protruding past the foliage.  It is relatively uncommon for the flowers to be below leaf level.  Of course, once the heavy strawberries begin to form and ripen, their weight pulls them to closer to the ground.

Protecting Strawberry Flowers

The flowers of strawberries need particular attention during two time periods.  First, they need extra care during the formation of strawberry flower buds.  As mentioned above, the strawberry plants need an attentive gardener to ensure that conditions are optimal for bud formation.  Good care during strawberry flower bud formation yields better harvests the next year.

Strawberry flowers also need protection in the spring.  Strawberry flowers are rather delicate and can succumb to frosts.  So, special attention should be given to the weather forecast so that the strawberry plants and flowers can be protected from the cold.

Strawberry Flowers: Conclusion

The strawberry flower is a small wonder that turns into a wonderful delight by June.  Without strawberry flowers, there would be no strawberries, so be sure to care for yours!  You’ll reap the benefits of your vigilance.  For more information on strawberry plants, visit the Strawberry Plant page.

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26 comments to Strawberry Flowers

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Terry,
    Great! I’m sure they will be fantastic!

  • Terry

    Dear MR. Strawberry,

    Thanks for the advice…waited a week and the buds and blossoms came in bunches and they are huge. Can’t wait to see how they grow and taste.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Terry,
    It depends on the conditions last fall. The Autumn months are when the perennating buds are formed within the crown that will become the following year’s berries. So, if conditions last fall weren’t favorable, you might have to wait until next year. However, still give them some time. Some varieties are later to flower and set fruit than others. It might not be too late! Good luck!

  • Terry

    My strawberry beds did not bloom this year. They are second year and looked great but appear to high on nitrogen. All green and tall. Is there anything I can do now to get them to bloom yet this year such as mowing them or am just out of luck and must wait for next year?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Susan P,
    In your case, you are much more likely to get fruit if you: 1) transplant the strawberry plants to a location where they get full sun; 2) pull up all the surrounding grass and other weeds; 3) place protective netting around them. Without sun, the strawberry plants will produce little or no strawberries. Competing with grass for nutrients (strawberry roots are predominantly in the top several inches of soil, just like grass roots) diminishes fruit production as well. And, birds and other wildlife tend to hone in on strawberries as being the tasty morsels that they are! If you just planted one plant and now have a 30-ft patch of strawberries, they almost certainly have put out runners in the past. It is still too early for most varieties to send forth runners at this time of year. However, within a month or two, if you check regularly, you will probably see quite a few runners. Good luck!

  • Susan P

    Hi. I planted a strawberry plant in a partially shaded corner of my yard as a test to see if they’d grow and if my dog being in the yard a few times a day would cause any difficulty. While I saw flowers that first year, I saw no fruit, so I figured it was a failed attempt–until I read your information a few minutes ago, anyway! That was 4 years ago.

    After noticing a fairy wide and staggered path of white flowers and low-growing strawberry leaves going through my grass for a good 30 feet, I came on here in search of information. No runners are visible, it’s so low to the ground. Might you have any idea of what I can do to facilitate fruit growth?? It’s not near my vegetable garden and not an area I pay much attention to, so I can’t say with any certainty if any fruit were produced before.

    Thank you for any ideas you might have, and for sharing your knowledge on the site in general :)

  • Straw Berry

    Allene Miller,
    They may have had an infestation of either a pathogen or parasite. Oftentimes, a sudden change like that with otherwise healthy-looking plants could be an indication of infection of some sort, or they could have too many nutrients. I’d recommend reviewing this information: Why No Strawberries? Good luck!

  • Allene Miller

    I set out Ozark Beauty Every bearing strawberries a few years ago. Every year I would take daughter plants and start a new crop. Last year they bloomed only one time, in the spring. They had plenty water, sunlight, fertility, real nice plants. Why did they stop blooming? The first plants bloomed from around March to November.

  • Straw Berry

    arfie fians,
    You are welcome! Keep me posted with your progress. Since strawberries normally do not do very well in tropical climates, be sure to let me know what variety you are growing if you indeed do find success. Good luck!

  • arfie fians

    I live in low land’s tropical country (indonesia). I often read your’r article about strawberry. And I try to plant strawberry from seed. So far is good, i have 6 plant. thanks for your informations.

  • Straw Berry

    Chase,
    You should be fine with your plants as long as you provide adequately for their needs, which it sounds like you are doing well. Strawberries will grow continuously without dormancy, but it shortens their overall lifespan. Also, your flowers may not set fruit (or good fruit) without adequate pollination/light. For them to do the best, you should swap the normal office fluorescent bulbs for full-spectrum grow bulbs, if possible. The Fragaria vesca varieties produce fewer runners (some produce essentially none). So, it may be normal for your specific variety, but it also may mean they aren’t getting adequate nutrients/light to produce the excess vegetative matter. If the strawberry plants are healthy, they should be able to be transplanted. Good luck!

  • Chase

    I moved into town and have been growing some of the uncommon strawberries indoors (Yellow Wonder, Mountain White, Black (from Europe), and Giant Strawberries). All of the plants were started from seed (after an 8 wk stratification), planted in Happy Frog Soil by Fox Farm, transplanted once, raised under normal office florescent lighting, with an average of 70 degree temp, and 2x a wk watering. At this time I’ve over 100 plants at different stages of growth between seedlings and (as of this week) the first flowering. My questions are:
    1. How much does it mess with the strawberries life cycle to start them at the “wrong” time of year? I live in Iowa, it’s December, and I’ve got flowers.
    2. After the first flowering, do you suggest placing the flowering plants or plants that I want to increase the production of flowers, under a different type of florescent bulb?
    3. None of these indoor plants have any runners like my outdoor plain garden variety seemed to grow early in life. Is this normal?
    4. I’d like to gift some of these plants. However, I’m concerned they will perish during the next few months without the lighting they are now accustomed to receiving. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to locate much solid information on disturbing strawberry plants in this manner- during winter months.
    Thanks!

  • Straw Berry

    Andrew Crook,
    There are a host of factors that affect how quickly strawberries produce. You might get some strawberries before the new year, but my guess is that you will get the majority of your berries after January. Strawberries like full sun the best, and the fact that yours only get about 4 hours per day will likely extend the time needed to develop out past 75 days. Sorry! But, good luck! Other than the sun, it sounds like you have a great setup there.

  • Andrew Crook

    G’day,

    Presently trying to grow Sweetheart Strawberries mainly because I’m bored and the wife loves strawberries. Purchased as small seedling/plants from a supermarket.

    Live in Qld (Brisbane) and planted them mid October.

    Quite healthy plants (I’m assuming judging by their growth rate), watering them daily and now have many small white flowers several growing in stems.

    The plants are covered against hungry birds and they get about 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. The plants are in sugarcane mulch.

    In SIMPLE words (please) – and I looked at your reply to Trudy 2012/12/07…..

    Should these plants fruit before January 2014? (as the tags said 75 days and this would mean late November or early December).

    When should fruit start to show after white flowers show up?

    Have a good one!

  • Mr. Strawberry

    NKitty,
    Yes, it is called vivipary. It is a phenomenon where seeds germinate right on the plant. It isn’t common with strawberries, but it happens on occasion.

  • NKitty

    My strawberry plant produced two little strawberries without flowers first. After a while i noticed the strawberries were getting bigger, but seemed to be developing miniature leaves and I thought it was trying to produce runners. But now on the strawberry itself its flowered… As far as I know this isn’t a normal process. Could you provide an explanation?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Boniface Maganga,
    Unfortunately, strawberries do not do well in tropical climates. Sorry!

  • Boniface Maganga

    Hi,

    Can strawberry seeds grow under tropical climate specifically in Kenya,Nairobi.Where Normal climate ranges between 15 degrees (Cold season) and upto 30 Degrees during hot season.

    Which variety would give the best result in such conditions?

    How long will it take for the plants to mature and start giving a normal production level.

    Regards

    Bonnie

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Roxy,
    I’m unsure exactly what is causing your flowers to drop. You may want to review the information on the Growing Strawberries reference page to ensure everything is adequate for your plants. Also, you might have an infection or infestation that is causing your problems. Help there can be found on the Strawberry Plant reference page or in the Library. Good luck!

  • Roxy

    Hi there,

    I planted some strawberry plants given to me by a friend back in March and they seem to be fairly happy looking but they are producing flowers and then the flowers die with no strawberries to show for it!

    I planted them in what I felt was healthy, sandy soil (that hadn’t ever been cultivated) but didn’t add anything to it (like manure). It is all heavily mulched as I live in Central Portugal where we have hot summers and I’ve kept it well watered (a good soak every other day). They probably get about 5-6 hours direct sunlight between 1-7 so I’m guessing that’s enough exposure?

    Please help, my 4 year old son is desperate to taste some of his favourite fruit!!

    Many thanks
    Roxy

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Trudy,
    Probably not. If your plants are in their productive season, the flower petals will fall off naturally as the flower grows into a strawberry. So, fret not! Everything is likely fine. Good luck!

  • Trudy

    I have a fairly healthy strawberry plant with a few white flowers. Whenever I water the plant, the petals of the flowers fall off. Is this a bad thing?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Melissa,
    I’d recommend starting by reading the information on the Growing Strawberries page. If you still have questions after reading that, I’m happy to help further. Good luck!

  • Melissa

    What do I do if my flower buds are under leaf level? I’m a beginner gardener & I also don’t know if I should cut the buds out. I bought mine from the store. The type is Ozark Beauty :) Thanks.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Patrick,
    What the rep told you is correct regarding everbearing strawberries. Also, don’t cut the healthy leaves off your strawberry plants. Doing so deprives them of their ability to carry out photosynthesis. For maximizing your strawberry haul, see the Growing Strawberries reference page.

  • Patrick Trythall

    WANTED: STRAWBERRYS
    Thank you for posting this insight! It was very helpful in my 1st year as a strawberry gardner. I have questions regarding everbearing strawberry plants and hope someone can help me with a little expert knowledge. I was told by a rep from my supplier that the everbearing don’t produce as many strawberrys, however they produce for a longer period of time. I opted for the everbearing plants since I have 5 children that I would like to grow from the evolution of the plants life as well as enjoy picking eating them for longer periods of time throughout the year.
    My biggest question is: Will clipping the leaves that don’t produce a flower allow more energy for the plant to produce strawberrys from the leaves that are flowering? Or if not, how can I maximize the production of strawberrys without harming the plant and/or depleting its energy required to establish a better root system.

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