It is finally that time of year again! The winter freeze is in the process of giving way to the spring thaw, and that means it is time to start planning your garden. The sooner you start planning, the sooner you will be ready to plant, and the sooner you will be ready to harvest delicious earth-grown produce. Novelty strawberries could be an option for the adventurous gardener this year.
Since strawberry plants often find their way into many gardeners' plots each year, I thought it might be beneficial to review some of the lesser-known options. If you have a square foot garden or a few extra rows (or even a partial row) of space to use, you may want to consider branching out into some of these novelty strawberry varieties.
Everyone knows the traditional red and juicy strawberry. Many don't know that there are other, less-common options available as well. This post will familiarize you with you options. If you are a bit adventurous and willing to branch out, try planting one or more of these novelty strawberries. You'll find them unique and well-suited as attraction-getters, whether you use them in salads, enter them in contests, or find other amazing uses for them!
Colorful Novelty Strawberries
Strawberries are synonymous with the color red. But, white strawberries are roaring onto the scene. Other colors are available too. While you should be more than wary buying neon pink, fluorescent green, or black strawberry plants or seeds from sellers on eBay and Amazon.com (because they don't exist yet), there are several color variants available from legitimate retailers. If you want to enjoy multiple hues, you can try some of these colorful novelty strawberries:
The Pineberry – this variety literally exploded onto the scene. There is a huge demand for it, and, consequently, it readily available now in the United States and the U.K. The white berries have a unique flavor profile in addition to their unique red-seeded appearance with pineapple overtones. As with any strawberry, the flavor is ultimately affected by growing conditions, but most people seem to like the mature strawberries. For a heap of information and the history of these popular novelties, visit the main Pineberry Page.
White Alpine Strawberries – the Alpine (Fragaria vesca) species are known for their flavor. As one of the wild-type strawberries, the white Alpines can be grown true from seed, unlike most of the June-bearing, everbearing, and day-neutral varieties, which are hybridized. Alpines are exquisitely aromatic and flavorful, but the strawberries are quite small. You can get the best price on plants by comparing offerings on the White Soul variety.
Other Berries of Pallor – retailers typically keep what people want. So, varieties come in and out of availability. There are actually several other species and varieties of white strawberries. For the details, visit this summary page.
Purple Wonder – “purple” strawberries do indeed exist. Again, these are not the photoshopped fakies presented on eBay. The first real purple strawberry was released by Burpee a few years ago. It hasn't caught on like the Pineberries have, but it is still a great option for a strikingly different strawberry. If interested, see the full report on purple strawberries.
3. Yellow/Golden Strawberries
Yellow Wonder – in addition to the white and red Alpine varieties, they also come in yellow.
4. Varieties with Different Foliage
Golden Alexandria – most gardeners grow plants for both the produce and the aesthetic quality of the plants. For a unique vegetative appearance (the strawberries are red like most others), the Golden Alexandria variety can add a unique sheen to your strawberry patch. They have golden-hued leaflets and can be obtained here, when available.
Runnerless – strawberries are a stoloniferous plant. Those runners are useful when multiplying your strawberry plants, but aren't for everyone. If you have limited space and don't want to deal with the spreading habit of varieties that produce an abundance of cloned runner plants, this runner-free wild variety may be for you.
Uniquely Flavored Strawberries
Not all strawberries taste the same. The quantity of sunlight and nutrients available to a plant affect its maturation, sugar content, and vitamin production. All of these affect the taste. Some varieties are tarter than others, and some have noteworthy aspects to their flavor profiles.
The Pineberry – as mentioned above, the pineapple component in the flavor profile of pineberries has created quite the stir. While other varieties claim a pineapple-ish flavor, the pineberry is the way to go if you want to experience the fullness thereof.
Virginiana & Vesca – these two Fragaria species are not unique insomuch as they are powerful. The aroma and strength of flavor contained in the small wild-type strawberries are tremendously stimulating to the senses. Jams and wines made with these strawberries command a significant premium over all others due to their potent strawberry taste and smell. All commercial strawberries are bland in comparison to these. Due to their power, these are usually considered the gourmet strawberries.
Novel Uses for Specific Strawberry Varieties
Just as most people associate strawberries with the color red, the fine fruits are also associated with a plethora of preserves. Ask ten people what fruit is most commonly used to make jam, and I'd wager the majority will say “strawberry” before you even finish the question.
Wild Strawberries – two of the strawberry species native to the Northern Hemisphere, Fragaria virginia and Fragaria vesca are quintessentially strawberry. As such, things that require an aromatic component to be evaluated will be notably superior if such berries are used instead of others. Specifically, wine and preserves made with the strawberries harvested from these species are notably of higher culinary quality than those made with others.
Mara des Bois – while not on the same level as the wild strawberries, the Mara des Bois variety has a long, storied history of culinary use. Quantity is the major drawback for attempting a recipe using the wild strawberries: the plants produce fewer and smaller berries. Especially for the wine connoisseur, if wild berries aren't available, Mara des Bois is the next best strawberry for making wine.
Whether you decide to get novelty strawberry plants or conventional strawberry plants, StrawberryPlants.org has a helpful directory to get you to the varieties you want. We don't sell plants directly, but you can price shop easily and get the best possible price from online retailers. Visit the Buy Strawberry Plants page to find available varieties and shop for the best deal (seeds are available here). If you aren't sure which regular varieties are right for you, you can learn more and/or see recommendations for your location. And, get help making your strawberry plants thrive on the Growing Strawberries reference page!
Try some of the different strawberry colors this year, good luck, and happy growing!