How to Grow Strawberries Inside and Out
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Learning how to grow strawberries is within reach, regardless of space and expertise.
Just about anyone can learn how to grow strawberries, believe it or not. If you’ve got sun, you’ve got potential! The plants are super flexible and surprisingly easy to grow.
Strawberries can be planted annually or every few years in most of the country. Most people with a yard will find it fairly easy to keep strawberries growing for fresh fruit whenever they want it. And why limit your efforts to outside—a sunny window can work too!
Types of Strawberries
You might think of strawberries as summer fruits, but with some types, the plants can bear fruit year-round!
June-bearing strawberries earn their name honestly, with a concentrated crop of a few weeks around the longest days of the year. These berries are the first to ripen and are known for their wonderfully sweet flavor. But once picked, the next crop will be a year away.
If you’re looking to expand the growing season, ever-bearing strawberries may be for you. Like June-bearing, they need lots of sunlight. Everbearing strawberries offer a crop in the spring and fall with possible fruit appearing sporadically in between.
Day-neutral strawberries go one step further. Instead of a bigger seasonal crop or two, they produce berries throughout the season. “Day-neutral” means they’re not sensitive to the length of sunlight in the day. They grow best at above-freezing temperatures through the mid-eighties.
How to Prep Your Garden for Strawberries
Strawberries are similar to your favorite sun loving perennials. Pick a spot with a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun. The plants can survive shade, but may flower and fruit less. Be wary of boggy spots and lots of clay where water may pool. A stand-alone bed or veggie garden can work well. You could even plant near a favorite pairing—like wherever you grow rhubarb!
Adding well rotted compost to the soil before adding strawberry plants gives them extra nutrients to get settled. Work an inch or two into the soil before getting started.
How to Plant Strawberries
Regardless of variety, basic planting is super simple. Plants can be set in early spring as long as the ground is diggable and not too muddy—if you can squeeze a ball of mud, that’s too muddy! Make sure the planting holes are big enough to avoid crowding roots. Bareroot plants could use a soak before being added. Spread the roots and top with soil leaving the crown free to grow. Water nursery plants as well but keep those root balls intact. Straw mulch around each plant will hold down weeds and cushion the fruit.
One trick to a well settled strawberry plant involves pinching off flowers for the first couple of months. The plant roots will burrow for a longer, healthier life. Ironically, removing the flowers also postpones the crops. That said, ever-bearing and day-neutral plants can deliver berries sooner as well as later.
Make sure to read the spacing guidelines on your variety. Strawberries like elbow room—plants may need up to 18 inches between them with rows several feet apart depending on the variety. June-bearing usually have the biggest footprint.
Planting Strawberries in Raised Beds
Raised beds make an ideal home for strawberry growing. They heat up sooner and tend to drain quicker, which water-sensitive strawberries appreciate. Mix compost with the soil to feed the plants and let roots set easier. Plant as directed above in hills, straight across or in raised rows. Monitor that water—new plants may need more if Mother Nature doesn’t deliver. Established plants need about an inch a week.
Planting Strawberries in Containers
Shallow-rooted strawberries can thrive in containers. The best part? Containers can be located near doors for optimum grazing and moved around for max sun exposure.
Strawberry pots come in many materials including ceramic, terracotta and plastic to maximize the growing surface, but really anything with drainage will work. Since the soil dries more quickly, you will have to up the watering schedule. Think about day-neutral or everbearing varieties for fruit beyond spring. Unlike in-ground, skip the flower pinching for immediate rewards!
One note: containers can crack in cold weather and plants are vulnerable, too. To save both in freezing temps, overwinter strawberries in the ground with mulch and if desired, return to containers come spring.
If you don’t have a lot of space on the ground, try planting your strawberries in soda bottles.
How to Harvest Strawberries
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To pick strawberries, gently twist or snip the stem of fully colored berries, leaving the hull intact. They won’t ripen on the counter, so it’s important to pick ones that are already ripe.
Store unwashed in the fridge if you can resist eating them immediately, or use your favorite methods for storing strawberries to keep them fresh. Canning or freezing strawberries can help you savor summer in the winter months. Now you’re all set to make your favorite strawberry recipes!
Strawberry Growing FAQs
How long does it take strawberries to grow?
For established plants, expect fruit 4 to 6 weeks after flowering. June-bearing will be done fruiting after several weeks around their namesake month. Day-neutral strawberries reward all season and make a great container option.
Can you grow strawberries from seed?
Yes, you can! Strawberry seeds are widely available and inexpensive. That said, they need patience and possibly grow lights. Press seeds into a damp soilless potting mix and keep them moist for several weeks until they start growing. Transplant to larger cells or pots as size demands. Some seeds might need a deep freeze to trick them into thinking they’ve had winter. Expect fruit in the second year.
Can you grow strawberries indoors?
Cultivating in the house is similar to outside with one exception—pollination. For faster fruit, start with bare root or already established plants. Pick a super sunny spot or add grow lights. The container must have good drainage. Dampen potting mix and keep the plant crown at soil level or just above. When flowers appear, use a paintbrush or cotton swab to mix the outer edge of the flower center with the middle. Now you’ve become a bee!
Extra Hints to Grow the Best Strawberries
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Even well-cared-for strawberry plants will likely need replacing every 3 to 5 years. Use runners from a mother June-bearing plant or try new varieties.
Garden friends like chipmunks appreciate strawberries too. To protect the crop, consider chicken wire fencing or non-toxic repellents, or plant enough to share!