Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring. For me, nothing says sunshine like a juicy, red strawberry freckled with seeds.
Strawberries are one of the most commonly found plants in backyard gardens. They are grown in every state in the United States and all provinces of Canada. Store bought strawberries fail in comparison to the flavor and aroma of those freshly picked from your backyard garden and growing them yourself ensures that you will have a safe, pesticide-free crop. Luckily growing them is easy as pie…strawberry pie!
♫ Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to strawberry fields ♫
One common question gardeners have is when to plant strawberries.
Strawberries are cold hardy perennials, but that does not mean that the cold will not hurt them. Seventy percent of a strawberry plant’s roots are in the top 3 inches of soil. Soil (even cold soil) will protect the shallow roots from freezing temperatures, but frost can damage tender, new leaves and stems.
Strawberries can be planted up to six weeks before the last expected frost as long as:
- They are in a dormant state and have not begun putting out new growth.
- The ground is not frozen and the soil is workable.
If you plant is putting out new growth, then you must wait until after the threat of frost is over before planting outdoors.
The most common time to plant strawberries is in the spring, but if you have mild winters then it will benefit you to plant in the fall.
When planting in the spring, its best to pinch off the first season of flowers. This lets your plant grow a stronger root system and will result in better fruit production the following year. I’m told that its worth the wait…but I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I’m impatient and I love strawberries.
If you are able to plant your strawberries in the fall, they will have time to establish themselves before the mild winter hits. By springtime, the roots will be large enough and healthy enough to support a fruitful growing season in the spring. There is no need to pinch off the flowers.
So…When to plant strawberries? Plant in the spring, plant in the fall. Avoid planting in the summer. Strawberries prefer growing in cool soil. If you plant in the summer, the soil is warm and causes unneeded stress to unestablished plants.
Tip: Strawberries prefer growing in cool soil. Mulching with straw or pine needles will help keep the soil around them cool. Strawberries are acid-loving plants. Pine needle mulch makes them very happy.
Strawberries are most commonly sold as potted plants or bare root. If you bought your plant already potted then you will need to wait until the threat of frost has gone before planting. Hardening off your plants will help them get better acclimated with the new home outdoors. Harden them by bringing them outdoors for a few hours when the temperature reaches 50 degrees. Gradually increase the amount the time they are outside.
Bare root strawberries are usually sold in bunches. Its best to get them in the ground right away. If you can’t get them planted right away, they can be stored in your refrigerator to keep them from breaking dormancy. Cover the roots with a wet paper towel to keep them from drying out until you are ready to plant.
I ordered my strawberries online with some other plants. When they arrived the strawberries were dormant, but the other plants had already begun to sprout new growth. It is still too cold to move them outside so I potted them and stuck them in a window. I went ahead and planted the strawberries too. They have begun to grow and I will start putting them outside to harden off very soon.
Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside. The average strawberry has 200 seeds. Some strawberries can be grown from seed. Heirloom varieties and most Alpine varieties come true from seed. Hybrid varieties can be if-y.
Click here to learn more about the different types of strawberries.
An easy way to collect seeds from your strawberries is to put a handful of ripe berries in the blender with 1 cup of water. Blend on high for a quick 3-5 seconds (any longer and you risk damaging the seeds). The viable seeds will sink the bottom. The “bad seeds” and pulp will float. Pour out the pulp and carefully collect the good seeds on a paper towel. Lay them out to dry.
The seeds from most varieties will need to be cold treated before they will grow. This is easy to do. Just fold the seeds in a paper towel and then place the towel in an air tight container. Put them in your freezer for 2-3 weeks. Thaw them at room temperature and then they are ready for planting.
Make a seed starting mix with 3 parts peat moss to 1 part potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds on top and very scarcely cover with peat. You want the sunlight to be able to reach the seeds. Place them in direct sunlight. You can expect to see sprouting in 2-3 weeks.
When it comes time to plant, be sure keep the base of the crown right at soil level.
Most strawberry plants will produce berries for 3-4 years. Plan accordingly to keep an ever-ready supply on hand.
It’s January and I live in Texas. Do I need to stratified the seeds or around what month I could plant the seeds? Thank you
Steve Corcoran says
Hi , I have received some blue strawberry seeds from China but its now April here in the U.K., is it too late for me to plant them from seeds or can I store them until next winter?
If you sow them in a protected area where they are protected from sun and frost they should do fine, you can plant them out later. Slowly introduce the plants to the sun.
Lisa Salvo says
Hi…so happy I stumbled onto this site! I live in Charleston SC….I want to plant a strawberry grow tower. When should I plant?? What variety? Where do I buy the bare roots?? And what extras such as micronutrients do they need?? I’m a noob:) Thanks in advance for ANY help!
The best time to plant is probably spring because there are plenty of bare root strawberry plants available. For the most part they are all the same, but you do want an ever bearing variety. You’re local garden centers should have bare root strawberries. They are available in our members area for really cheap in early spring.
I ordered ever bearing bare root plants online- I live in florida and have a small green house on the porch, so I figured I could plant these and get them established well before spring. I’ve had strawberry plants a few years ago from the hardware store, and they produced strawberries well beyond the normal season- so I thought this would be pretty simple. Out of 25 initially planted and seemingly thriving plants (in small starter pots) I’m down to just 14- some appear to be doing well, and others seem to mysteriously wither up and die. I’m doing the same thing to all of them, so I’m mystified by the loss of some and not others- they are in a sunny place, in miracle grow soil, mixed in with some organic compost, and watered regularly. Any idea why I’m losing some and not others? My goal is ultimately to have between 25 and 30 thriving plants- my kids love strawberries, as do I- and I’m hesitant to purchase more until I nail down where I am going wrong. I’m a super novice gardener, who occasionally lucks into an amazing pot of zucchini or broccoli or strawberries, so any help is greatly appreciated. Oh, and I grow everything in pots on a very sunny back porch, I’m attempting vertical gardening to maximize what I can fit.
Sharon Worthinhgton says
I planted my berries in raised beds, & just filled the beds. The berries in the center did not grow, only around the edges .Now it seams it is full of leaves & they can’t ripen. Can I cut some of the leaves off so the berries can get the sun? I’m afraid they will get rotten with no sun on them.
Since growing strawberries from seed are if-y (i don’t know what strawberries I have), is there to get a cutting from a strawberry plant?
This is about strawberry propagation. http://www.freeplants.com/strawberries.htm
Thank you for replying! I was wondering how I can tell if a strawberry plant is day-neutral or not? Some sites have said that day-neutral strawberry plants are a varietal of everbearing strawberry plants, but I haven’t found many places that have or would ship the day-neutral variety to my area.
Also, I just got a strawberry plant from a local hardware store nursery, but I found a little tag that states unauthorized for propagation. Does this mean any runners produced must not be allowed to produce daughter plants?
You mentioned netting to protect the berries and I had been thinking of netting to protect my blueberry plants from Japanese beetles, like mosquito netting or something using wooden poles. What do you think and do you have any idea who would sell netting? Last year I tried using sheets of, I forgot what it’s called but they use them to strain liquids, on blackberries and it was a disaster.
PS Hi Amber! Nice job!
Mike, I am in full swing with my 3rd and 4th year honeye strawberry plants. I must admit, they are the hardiest plant I have ever seen. Temperatures reached-19 this winter and they have seemed to multiply several times once I began uncovering them this spring. Through hard work and a labor of love, my original1000 plants are now well over 10,000 and growing like never before. I keep careful records from year to year and expect a bountiful harvest beginning around May, 20. I do enjoy all of your tips and humor.
That’s great, the market for strawberry plants is huge!
On starting strawberry seeds . You can not let the mix dry out it must stay moist , if the top gets dry even for a few hours it will kill the tender little sprouts .
Nice write up – Good job
i’m so glad that i found your website. you make it so easy to understand for a beginner. i’m ready to start making a small garden.i will be viewing your site more. i live in south carolina.i have bought one concord grape plant and one blueberry plant. i hope i can get them to grow. thanks for your site
You are welcome! I’m delighted to see making a small garden, enjoy every step of the process.
Thanks Mike, I have learned a lot about strawberries. Love Strawberries. I enjoy all
Thanks, this article answered my questions about when, where, and how to plant. awesomeness!
Glad to have a new article on strawberries as I have a question. My strawberry beds are a mess (see photo in website link) and I have been digging them up and adding new potting mix and separating them and replanting. Is this a good thing to do?
They now have a big wooden root with 3 or more new plants starting out so I’ve been carefully pulling them apart and replanting them and planting extras in pots until I can prepare more ground space to plant them.
The main bed of strawberries has produced about a gallon a day of huge , sweet strawberries for several weeks. I hope to keep this trend going, I don’t know what variety they are as when neighbors moved out they didn’t take their strawberry plants and told me to help myself, so I dug out 2 dozen and planted them in my garden.
I’m in Bellingham, WA and our last frost was 2 weeks ago.
I’d say you are doing fine. If you keep improving the soil, dividing the plants as necessary I think they’ll do fine. On this blog I recently wrote an article about soil amending, potting soil and raised beds in case you haven’t seen that.
I have a woodsy area at our assisted living –like a park really, urban. Since I have learned they like acid, pine needle type environment, I could plant them near that…but HOW MUCH SUN? My cousin in Fremont has acres and produces millions for commercial trade. flat out sun, but also chemical/plowed, etc. huge bushes. I just want some the folks here can enjoy..seeing, planting, eating.\
I am in Boston area.
I live in strawberry country! Full sun, to answer your question. Get soil tests (from a real place, not those kits from box stores) and fertilize according to results — strawberries like Nitrogen, but ironically too much will invite disease! Use a slow release kind. If you are into organic gardening, feathermeal is a slow release source of nitrogen. They also do well with P for blooming (more blooms, more fruits!). Don’t crowd them. Avoid “sprinklers”….better to drip line them or at least avoid getting leaves wet to prevent diseases. Contact your local Master Gardeners at your county extension office to find out where you can get soil tests done. Sweet Harvests to you!
Norm (north of Seattle)
Thanks for the interesting and factual reply!
The more sun they get the better, that much for sure.
Thx for the strwberyy tips, I just finihsed making one of those Gutter/strawberry walls….I hope I can make them looks as nice as the pics Ive seen! i needed to know the tip about them loving acid soil.
You are the best! Always enjoy you’re articles.
What do you find is best method for keeping all varmints away from my berries. Birds, chipmunks, and whatever tend to get them before me. Most are half eaten!
My first thought is netting.
Gene Howard says
Way to go Amber! You are becoming an author by your own right..