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.

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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.

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Growing Strawberries in Gutters

growing strawberries in guttersQ: Growing Strawberries in Gutters?

On May 27, 2017, Marlene 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.

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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!

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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!)

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

if you plant a strawberry top, will it grow a strawberryIf You Plant a Strawberry Top, Will It Grow a Strawberry?

Over 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…

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When Do Strawberry Plants Die?

when do strawberry plants dieQ: When Do Strawberry Plants Die?

On September 13th, 2011, Elenor 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 plantsQ: How Old Are My Strawberry Plants?

On June 7, 2011, Diane 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?

when should strawberry plants be mulched for winterQ: When Should Strawberry Plants Be Mulched for Winter?

On November 20, 2015, Danny 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!

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Growing Strawberries in Containers

growing strawberries in containersQ: Problems Growing Strawberries in Containers?

On September 23, 2015, Bob 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?

small strawberriesQ: Why Are My Strawberries Small?

On July 18, 2015, Michael 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:

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Growing Strawberries in Bangladesh

growing strawberries in bangladeshStrawberries are a small fruit native to the Americas and also found in several other regions of the world.  Bangladesh is not one of them.  However, the Fragaria x ananassa hybrid cross that makes up most of the strawberry cultivation around the world is not breaking through in Khagrachhari just yet.  Two pioneering farmers, Bimal Chandra Chakma and Munmun Chakma, have successfully grown strawberries there for years now.  They used a species called Rabi-3, and have watched as their efforts have quadrupled the size of their plantation.

The pair of farmers initially started with 50 decimals of land, but were able to expand their growing strawberries in Bangladesh to 200 decimals in just three years.  What is also ground-breaking is that the couple has paved the way for other farmers to begin growing strawberries in Bangladesh since their operation has proven to be commercially viable.

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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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