Growing Strawberries

Do you want to begin growing strawberries?

Have you been growing strawberries for a long time and simply want to get fresh ideas or helpful suggestions?

You’ve landed in the right spot! This site will teach you how to grow strawberries and get you growing strawberry plants in places you would have never dreamed possible.

We are passionate about everything related to strawberries here. We hope that passion shines through. Since the little and beautiful red berries are nutritious and delicious, we want to see more people develop a love for growing strawberry plants and eating the delicious and sweet strawberries they produce! In each garden strawberries have a place, and we want to help more gardeners find successful ways to incorporate them.

To help you navigate to the information that is most helpful for your present situation, use this handy-dandy table of contents to go directly to the information you need. If you want to start at the very beginning and work your way through, just scroll down!

1. Why Grow Strawberries?2. Choosing How to Grow:
a. From Seed (new page)
b. From Plants
3. Picking the Best Strawberry Variety4. Site Selection
5. Choosing Your Growing Method6. Garden Preparation
7. How to Plant Strawberry Plants
a. What to Plant with Strawberries (new page)
8. Caring for Your Strawberries
a. Watering Strawberries
b. Fertilizing Strawberries
9. Multiplying Your Strawberry Plants...
a. Propagating Strawberry Plants (new page)
b. Transplanting Strawberry Plants (new page)
10. When to Harvest
11. Renovating Strawberries12. Protecting Strawberry Plants
a. Mulching (new page)
b. Overwintering Strawberries (new page)
13. Dealing with Common Problems...
a. Plants Not Producing Strawberries (new page)
b. Strawberry Plants Wilting (new page)
c. Late Frosts/Cold Weather (new page)
d. Upside-down Hanging Planters (new page)
e. Pests & Pathogens (new page)
14. More Articles & Information on Growing Strawberries
15. Frequently Asked Questions (new page)

Read moreGrowing Strawberries

Transplanting Strawberries

Why Should You Transplant Strawberry Plants?

Most strawberry plants will produce many runners over the course of its life. For the home gardener, this is great! You get to buy (or otherwise obtain) a few strawberry plants and watch them multiply themselves exponentially. However, the little fellas don’t know when to stop producing runners when the maximum productive capacity of a confined strawberry bed is reached.

So, a gardener who desires lots of high quality strawberries will have to remedy this overcrowding. It can be done either by thinning the plants or transplanting the plants to a new area. Also, if the soil isn’t particularly well-suited for growing strawberries, transplanting strawberry plants to a rich, sandy loam with good drainage can make all the difference in the world.

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Companion Planting Strawberries

companion planting strawberriesCompanion planting has a long, storied history.  Individuals have noted benefits (and drawbacks) when certain plant species are grown in close proximity to one another for hundreds of years, and many books have been written on the topic.  Interestingly, the scientific causes of many of these relationships are not fully understood.  But, the principles work and the beneficial symbiotic relationships can be measured among many types of plants.

The increased biodiversity is usually beneficial, but the planting of various plants in close proximity often yields multifaceted benefits.  Two of the primary benefits are pest control and increased yield.  There are many resources available to help develop a garden (or even a permaculture) that thrives based on mutual assistance and inter-connectivity of well-planned companion planting layouts.  The purpose of this post, however, is to deal specifically with companion plants for strawberry plants and what benefits can be achieved by companion planting strawberries in your garden.

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Strawberry Planting Guide

Spring brings forth visions of harvest in the minds of home gardeners everywhere as they look at freshly planted gardens.  As most gardeners know, everything does best when planted at its optimal time.  Planting strawberries is no different.  This strawberry planting guide will show you when you should put your strawberry plants in the ground.  If you haven’t yet purchased any, you can follow this link to buy strawberry plants.

The following table tells you when to plant strawberry plants according to the U.S. agricultural zones:

Read moreStrawberry Planting Guide

Best Location for Strawberry Plants

best location for strawberry plantsStrawberry plants can be a little finicky when it comes to their real estate.  It is extremely important for any new strawberry grower to identify the best location for strawberry plants among the potential sites.  If the location is poorly suited for growing strawberries, you won’t reap a big harvest of plump, juicy fruit.  But, fear not!  This guide will help you locate and identify the best location for strawberry plants among the sites you are considering.

Best Location for Strawberry Plants: Checklist

Site Topography

Strawberry plants need drainage.  If planted in a naturally-formed bowl or low spot in the ground, both air and water will have difficulty draining away from your strawberry planting.  The absolute best location for strawberry plants will have a slight slope to the land.  The ideal grade for a strawberry planting is 5% to 7%.  However, anything up to 12% is permissible.  Plantings that have a slope less than 5% will result in stagnant air and water.  Such plants will suffer a higher rate of failure due to the pooling of water and stagnant air.  Both encourage the formation of fungal infections that can permanently damage or outright kill your strawberry plants.

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Pollinating Strawberry Plants

pollinating strawberry plants Pollinating strawberry plants is not all that complicated.  However, if you want to have a heaping helping of delicious strawberries, it must be done.  The good news is that your friendly neighborhood bugs and bees are usually pretty good at pollinating strawberry plants for you.  If your strawberry plants are grown indoors or away from insect access areas, there are a few basics you should know.

Pollinating Strawberry Plants: Anatomical Understanding

The male pollinating structure of a flower is called the “stamen.”  Stamens usually consist of a filament and the pollen-containing anther.  There are typically between twenty and thirty-five stamens of varying lengths in a strawberry flower.  These stamens (collectively called the androecium) are arranged in a circle and are usually surrounded by five (or more) petals.  Initially, the anthers are a yellow color while they hold the pollen, but they quickly pale after the pollen is released.  The flower stem (pedicel) extends up into the flower and forms the cone-shaped area in the middle of the stamens.  This stem extension is called the “receptacle” and will eventually turn into the strawberry after the pollinating strawberry plants has been completed.  The receptacle is covered with the female part of the flower called “pistils.”  Up to 500 pistils cover the receptacle in a spiral pattern.  Each pistil has an ovary at its base, and an ovule is present within.

Read morePollinating Strawberry Plants

How to Keep Strawberries Clean

keep strawberries clean If you want to grow strawberries successfully, it is imperative that you keep strawberries clean throughout the growing process.  Soil, while full of beneficial nutrients, is also full of pathogenic fungi and other creepy-crawlies.  Soil-borne microorganisms can wreak havoc on a strawberry planting.  So, it is vital to protect the vegetative parts of the strawberry plant (leaves, stems) and the fruit from coming into contact with soil as much as possible.

How to Keep Strawberries Clean

Historically, strawberries were kept clean with a healthy layer of straw to serve as mulch and to keep the vulnerable parts of the plant from getting coated with contaminants.  The layers of clean straw provided a barrier between the dirt and fruit, and also served to dissipate rain droplets from above.  As rain falls, the drops form puddles in gardens without mulch.  when enough water collects, the droplets hurtling toward the ground hit the puddles and cause dirt-permeated water to fly every which way.  This contaminated water is spread up and out from the impact.  Consequently, fruit and leaves that need to stay clean are often coated with the pathogenic fungi that will end up infecting and damaging both fruit and plants.

Read moreHow to Keep Strawberries Clean

Growing Strawberries in Gutters

growing strawberries in guttersMarlene asked:

I have seen pictures of strawberries grown in gutters. I think people are growing strawberries in gutters so they are off the ground so the rain and soil don’t rot them. They are cleaner and look beautiful. Do you have any information on this method? I want to transplant my strawberries into this system. They don’t do as good when they are on the ground. My old raised beds, the wood has rotted and I need to move them soon. Plus, I have the strawberries with the runners. If I do it in an “A” structure I would cut the runners off. Put one gutter on the top of the “A” and two gutters down the sides of the “A” and so forth. Have you seen this done? I would really like to try it for this summer. How would I deal with the plants through the winter. Take the structure apart and store the plants in my basement? I would want to save them some how for the next year.

Read moreGrowing Strawberries in Gutters

Strawberry Roots

strawberry rootsWhat is the key to a heaping harvest of mouth-watering, juicy, delightful strawberries?  Simply put: the strawberry roots.  Healthy strawberry roots are the key to a healthy strawberry plant.  Roots are just roots, right?  Well, the fine filaments that absorb the needed nutrients from the soil that help each plant set a heavy crop of strawberries are a bit more sophisticated than you might imagine.  This article will help you understand the nature and importance of strawberry root systems.

Types of Strawberry Roots

There are two types of strawberry roots: primary roots and secondary roots.  Primary roots are the main roots of each strawberry plant.  Primary strawberry roots carry absorbed water and nutrients from the soil into the crown of the strawberry plant.  These roots are perennial in nature and survive for multiple years.

Secondary strawberry roots are also called “feeder” roots.  They are short-lived.  A normal lifespan for feeder roots is days to weeks.  The secondary strawberry roots are much finer than the primary roots.  Consequently, they are damaged very easily.  The actual water and nutrient absorption is performed by these roots.

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Winterizing Strawberry Plants

winterizing strawberry plantsWinterizing strawberry plants is necessary for gardeners in many areas.  As the temperatures drop each year, people write in asking when and how to winterize strawberry plants.  This post will cover the basics and help you determine how and when to protect your strawberry plants as the weather cools.

Why Winterize Strawberries?

Strawberry plants are perennial.  They produce for many years after the initial planting, and they can thrive for very long periods if a rotation is used to keep plants fresh.  But, there is a problem with perennial plants.  How do they survive the freezing temperatures of the winter months?  Well, strawberries are classified as forbs.  Consequently, they don’t have the thick bark that protects many other perennials like most trees.  If they don’t get extra protection (at least in the colder Zones), they will either die or suffer cold injury.  Both death and injury can significantly hamper your plants’ ability to grow strawberries for you!

Read moreWinterizing Strawberry Plants

How to Keep Birds Away from Strawberries (Organic!)

how to keep birds away from strawberriesFor any home gardener, birds can be a problem.  Berries of all sorts disappear down the beaks of our feathered foes.  Unfortunately, strawberries are not exception.  Frustrated people ask fairly frequently how to keep birds away from strawberries.  Well, fret not, my friends.  I have full faith that you can out-smart the flying fiends.  Most folks know that birds aren’t brilliant.  In fact, they are quite mentally diminutive.  However, they do learn quickly where the fast food may be found.  If you have already surrendered a crop of strawberries to the neighborhood aviators, this method might be more difficult to pull off.  If you haven’t, you might take a subtle satisfaction at tricking the fluff-brains into leaving your harvest alone…

How to Keep Birds Away from Strawberries (with trickery!)

Read moreHow to Keep Birds Away from Strawberries (Organic!)

If You Plant a Strawberry Top, Will It Grow a Strawberry?

if you plant a strawberry top, will it grow a strawberryOver the course of the years, I have had several people ask me this question, or a version of it: “If you plant a strawberry top, will it grow a strawberry?”  This year, however, I have received a noticeable increase in the number of curious questioners hoping to make good on the part of the strawberry most commonly used as a grip while the rest of the fruit is gnawed in happy contentment.  After all, the little bit of white flesh left under the calyx and stem isn’t good for much other than, perhaps, making a bit of strawberry water.  I don’t know why the curiosity has spiked, but it is a valid question.  Since curious minds want to know…

Read moreIf You Plant a Strawberry Top, Will It Grow a Strawberry?

When Do Strawberry Plants Die?

when do strawberry plants dieElenor asked:

When do strawberry plants die?  My strawberry plants are doing badly. They used to flourish for the first 3 years, but now are thinning out and getting scraggly. It is mid-September, I read about renovation – to be done around June after harvest. Can these plants be dug up and dried out through the winter, and replanted in the spring? When I bought them they were just dried out looking bare clean roots.  What should I do to keep them happy and healthy?

Answer to: When Do Strawberry Plants Die?

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How Old Are My Strawberry Plants?

how old are my strawberry plantsDiane asked:

We have strawberries in raised beds. We are getting smaller and smaller berries every year. I think I need to thin the plants. Is there a way to tell by looking at them which plants are oldest? I need to know how old are my strawberry plants. We also need to fertilize and water them. We were really just letting nature take it’s course. With a fair amount of success until now. The berries are just mostly really small this year. Thanks for this site. It was very helpful. I’m also wondering if when you create new plants from runners are you supposed to pinch off the blossoms on those or just on new bare root plants? If you are supposed to pinch them off the new runner plants, how can you tell which plants are new in the Spring? They all look the same to me in the bed. Thanks.

Answer to: How Old Are My Strawberry Plants?

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When Should Strawberry Plants Be Mulched for Winter?

when should strawberry plants be mulched for winterDanny Abbuscome asked:

I have a few raised beds with strawberry plants planted in them.  I got them as potted plants and had a decent crop and got several gallons of strawberries from all my plants combined.  I planted them this spring, instead of last fall like you recommended (I hadn’t found this site yet).  I followed all the instructions for renovation and mowed them and limited the runners so they didn’t overgrow everything.  It may have been mentioned somewhere else, but when exactly do I mulch the plants for winter?  I seem to get different information on a quick google of mulching strawberries.  Exactly when should strawberry plants be mulched for the winter months?  I don’t want to smother them or cause any harm if the plants aren’t ready.  I still have some green living-looking leaves on my plants, although most of the big leaves have turned mostly brown and look dead.  Can you give me some advice as to how to go about mulching?  Any help would be much appreciated!

Read moreWhen Should Strawberry Plants Be Mulched for Winter?

Growing Strawberries in Containers

growing strawberries in containersBob asked:

I have a large container on my patio with strawberry plants in it. This was the 2nd summer for these strawberries. Unfortunately, the plants only put out a handful of strawberries back in early June. I was very disappointed to say the least. I had stopped by a local nursery to pick their brains about the lack of yield I had this summer. The lady there told me that strawberries grown in containers don’t typically produce a lot of fruit compared to those growing in the ground. She also asked me if I had fertilized my strawberry plants last fall before winter set in. I had never heard of doing this. Why would you fertilize a plant that is about to die from the coming cold months? If this is true, when do I fertilize? Now, that the plant is still green and alive, or do I wait for it to curl up and die after winter hits? It should be noted that I leave this container outside on my patio uncovered and exposed to the snow and elements all winter long. It survived fine this way last winter and grew back really nice this past spring, so I really didn’t have to baby it at all to keep it alive. It survived! Also, what fertilizer, if any, do I use for this fall fertilization?

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What Causes Small Strawberries?

Q: Why Are My Strawberries Small?

small strawberriesMichael Johnson asked:

Hi, I was hoping you could help me with a problem I have.  I need to know what causes small strawberries.  I planted my strawberries last year during September, and they put out some greenery before dying back for the winter months.  This spring they came up and looked to be doing pretty well.  They put out flowers on stalks that started to grow, but the size of the fruits that are produced are all tiny.  They are only about half an inch big, give or take a little.

I’ve done my best to water them, and follow the instructions for what should give a good crop, but I’m still stuck wondering what causes small strawberries after doing everything I can to make them big.  Can you tell me why are my strawberries small instead of big and plump like they are in the store?  Any help would be appreciated! Thank you.

Answer to: What Causes Small Strawberries?

Michael Johnson,
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes small strawberries without being able to visualize your setup and without knowing all that has gone into their care up until this point.  There are a number of things that can cause your strawberries to smaller than the ones you may be used to buying at the store or from farmers markets.  So, let me point out some of the most common causes of small strawberries:

Read moreWhat Causes Small Strawberries?

Strawberry Pollination

strawberry pollinationStrawberries are relatively simple little plants.  Their genomes have been completely mapped, and their life cycles are fully understood.  But, as simple as strawberry plants may seem, they are still complex enough to warrant study; and, the study that goes into them continues to reveal much fascinating information.  This post is dedicated to that topic of plant fertilization that sometimes can induce somnambulism in all but the most ardent botanists: strawberry pollination.  But, once you’ve reviewed this information, you’ll be ready to tackle hand pollination of strawberries or be better able to situate your strawberry bed in the most ideal location for growing gargantuan berries!

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The Strawberry Growing Master Manual

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Did you know that you you can easily grow your own Delicious strawberries at home in as little as one half of a cubic foot of dirt!

Did you know that Strawberry plants are one of the most productive garden plants based on size-to-harvest ratio? You can save a lot of money by growing your own strawberries!

Did you know that it’s super enjoyable to see little plants produce heaps of strawberries that you can immediately eat! There is no need to fight the crowds at the supermarket or grocery store to enjoy ultra-fresh berries.

Did you know that strawberries have numerous health benefits! They are rich in minerals and vitamins. They have 18 different amino acids + they are loaded with flavonoids.

Read moreThe Strawberry Growing Master Manual

Mulching Strawberry Plants in the Summer

Q: Should I Mulch Strawberry Plants?

mulching strawberry plants in the summerKim Ruby asked:

Hello – I live in North Central Florida. My growing season is different than the northern climates. My strawberry season is ended by June. This past year I planted 40 Sweet Charlie bare root plants in November and they are doing great. I have been pinching the berries this year giving the plant a chance to establish. Should I use straw mulch to protect my strawberry plants from the summer heat? If not, what do you suggest? Thank You.

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Novelty Strawberries for the Home Garden

novelty strawberriesIt 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!

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Recommended Strawberry Varieties for Canada

Recommended Strawberry Varieties for CanadaStrawberry plants are, in my humble opinion, a truly fascinating marvel of nature.  They are amazingly adaptable; they propagate themselves in a plurality of ways; and they produce a fleshy red, white, yellow, or purple fruit that is universally prized by the intelligent and instinctive creatures that live all around us (including us human folk!).  They have developed and adapted means of surviving sub-zero temperatures, and, consequently, can be grown from the warmer temperate regions of our great planet all the way north or south to the frigid regions.

But, their adaptability and genetic flexibility have allowed for selective breeding.  Researchers have been able to breed for desired characteristics.  And, while such breeding programs have allowed for improved disease resistance, bigger strawberries, different colors, and more commercially-viable cultivars, the breeding has also culled some of the hardiness from some of the varieties as specificity has narrowed by region.  Today, not just any strawberry variety will do well in just any ol’ location.  The more extreme the weather, the more specific one should be when selecting a specialized variety for planting in order to obtain the best harvest from your efforts.

That, my strawberry-loving friends, is where this post can help!  If you live in the frigid environs of Canada (at least in winter), you need to know how to pick an appropriately hardy strain of strawberry plants so that you end up happy with your final yield of fruit.  If you are from the United States, go here for your state-by-state recommended varieties.  This page is a compilation of each of the recommend strawberry variety lists for each of the Canadian provinces and territories.

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How to Grow Certified Organic Strawberries

How to Grow Certified Organic StrawberriesAlthough strawberries have been at the pinnacle of the produce pyramid for decades, their popularity continues to grow.  Unless a strawberry allergy forces a saddened consumer away from these bright red edibles, they are usually the first to vanish from fruit trays across the globe.  Strawberries are delicious, there’s no doubt about that, but they have gotten a bad reputation of late.  Conventional growing methods use fumigants, chemicals, and other methods to maximize production and profits.  But, more and more people are becoming disillusioned and distrustful of conventional methods and are increasingly concerned over potential deleterious consequences of consuming the trace amounts of those chemicals when the fruits are consumed.  This trend toward natural and organic produce has opened a door for new growers to eschew chemical-based practices for potentially safer methods of growing strawberries.  The market for organic strawberries is growing, and the interest in growing them is increasing among potential strawberry farmers as well due to the premium price that organic strawberries bring over their conventionally-grown counterparts.

If you are interested in learning how to grow certified organic strawberries, this guide will help you get started.

This post will focus on the requirements a potential grower must meet in order to legally use such terms as “organic,” “100% organic,” or “made with organic ingredients.”  If you desire to sell your organic produce at a farmer’s market or any other public or private venue, you need to know the requirements so that you don’t run into trouble with the law.

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4 Secrets to Growing Loads of Organic Strawberries

4 secrets to growing loads of organic strawberriesI have been growing and helping others grow organic strawberries for many years.  While the segment of the population that is concerned about how their food is grown is still a minority, more and more people are discovering the benefits of sustainable agriculture.  And, as more and more gardeners test out their green thumbs, gardens all around the world are finding strawberry plants inhabiting space next to herbs and other garden plants.  Going green and growing healthy food go well together; and since virtually everyone loves strawberries, this post will help those who want to eschew the conventional methods (which are somewhat notorious for producing dirty strawberries) for potentially safer ones.  Plus, since no one wants to trade a basket full of bright, plump strawberries for just a hand full, the four secrets I’ll fill you in on momentarily will help you get started on your journey of successfully growing organic strawberries!

First Things First!

Before getting to the secrets, a few preliminaries are in order.  There are some key decisions that have to be made prior to planting strawberry plants.  You need to know which of the main types of strawberries you want to plant…

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Growing Organic Strawberry Plants

growing organic strawberry plantsThis is an entry in the Strawberry Plants Library here at Strawberry Plants .org. Continue reading for summarized information. The entire resource may be accessed or downloaded by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

Growing Organic Strawberry Plants: Summary

This excellent document was produced by a very skilled and knowledgeable team from Cornell University. The coordinating editors were Juliet Carroll, Marvin Pritts, and Catherine Heindenreich.  Multiple contributors included: Kerik Cox, Greg Loeb, Michael Helms, Andrew Landers, Paul Curtis, Courtney Weber, and Laura McDermott.  The staff writers were Elizabeth Graeper Thomas and Theodora Bucien, while Mary Kirkwyland and Michelle Marks further edited the 2013 version of this guide.  This production was funded in part by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  For each of the departments and specialties represented by the contributing team, download the resource via the link at the end of this page.

The following is covered in the publication:

Introduction to Growing Organic Strawberries

1.  There are three main obstacles to successfully cultivating strawberries organically.

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