Strawberry Growing and Care Instructions
If you are planting in a container or raised bed: DO NOT use Miracle Gro, Virgo, Fox Farm, or any similar potting mixes meant for flowers, vegetables, or marijuana. Do not use landscape mixes that contains over 20% compost or manure, or mixes that do not contain stone grit. It is in our experience that these mixes are too wet and will root-rot and kill your strawberry plants. We will not send replacements if you plant your plants in these types of mixes. See planting instructions on the back side of this page to see what type of soil and components the strawberry plants will require. 30 % stone grit 3/8” to 1/16” – i.e. course sand (not contractor or play sand), pumice, lava, pea gravel, or turkey grit - is essential for good growth, production and, plant survival.
Strawberry Growing and Care Instructions
Strawberries are sent to you dormant. They have been in cold storage and will begin to grow in 5 - 6 days after you plant if your weather is warm enough. If you do not see growth a week after planting, contact us right away. If you cannot plant right away, place unopened bag in refrigerator for up to 1 week. If plants appear totally dry, soak in water for 1 to 2 minutes. Soaking longer can kill the plants.
Strawberry plants will produce good crops for 3 - 5 years. June and summer bearing varieties will not yield as many berries as ever bearing varieties the year you plant. However, in later years, June bearing and summer bearing varieties will out yield ever bearing varieties - usually yielding twice the volume of ever bearing varieties. 100 plants should provide enough berries for a family of 4, including enough to freeze, jams and jellies. Strawberries prefer a rich, organic soil with a pH of 5.8 - 6.5 with good drainage.
PLANTING: Set crowns slightly above soil surface (1/4 – 3/8” of roots should be showing above soil surface), so that you can add mulch later after dormant plants are actively growing. Plant on an over cast day or in late afternoon. Dig hole and spread out roots pointing straight down. Chose a site that has a small slope and has good draining soil. Water abundantly when planting so that the soil fills in all of the air holes around the roots. Planting outside in full sun with good natural soil will be more forgiving than planting indoors or in containers. Greenhouses, unheated sun rooms, and raised beds work well.
Do not plant strawberries where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, or blackberries have grown for the past 3 - 4 years. Also avoid areas of recently plowed grass and areas of perennial weeds. Till the soil and mix in up to 10% compost, manures, and enough fertilizer to deliver 2 pounds of nitrogen and phosphorous per 1000 sq. ft. If you have clay soil, mix in 30% coarse sand or pumice, do not use contractor sand. Fertilizer can be organic or chemical. If you over fertilize you will have excessive vegetative growth and less berries. Fertilize again after June bearing varieties have ripe berries and after the second harvest on ever bearing varieties. Do not fertilize late in the season.
First Year Only - On June bearing varieties, pinch off at least 2/3 of flowers to promote root and new runner growth. On summer bearing varieties, leave 1/2 of flowers and on ever bearing varieties prune off the 1st set of blossoms. Plant 12 inches apart on June and summer bearing varieties, and 8-10 inches apart for ever bearing varieties. In future years prune off excess runners so that plants are spaced at least 6 - 8 inches apart. Avoid overcrowding.
Don't forget to water regularly, 1 - 2 inches of water per week depending on your temperature. Water only early in day or install a drip line to help prevent berries from rotting. Don't over water when ground is soggy, as too wet of soil will encourage fungal diseases. Adding a straw or bark mulch will keep berries off of the soil is beneficial.
When planting in containers it is very important to have the right potting soil and fertilizer, or it will kill your plants.
Potting soil in containers needs to have very good drainage. 30% grit (3/8- Pumice, fine crushed gravel, coarse sand (not contractor or play sand), 1/4 decomposed granite or very fine pea gravel). Then add 30% 3/8- fine bark, 10% peat, 10% perlite, 10% garden soil and, 10% compost (mix well). Do not use Big Box or Chain Store potting mixes meant for vegetables, annual flowers or house plants or you will kill your plants with root rot. Even the name brand potting mixes advertised on TV will kill your plants, they are not designed for strawberries, raspberries or any plant, shrub or tree that is not an annual. When planting in containers, we recommend a potting soil like our General Purpose Greenhouse Potting Mix. Ingredients are listed on the listing, if you would like to find the components locally.
In raised beds, add stone grit as mentioned above to your garden soil along with 10% peat or compost. If you add too much compost, your soil will get too wet and will settle in winter, likely root rooting your plants.
Fertilizer needs to be low salt in containers. Organic fertilizers like fish, alfalfa, bat guano, kelp, bone meal and rock phosphate are OK, just keep the nutrients balanced, and watch the nutrient level so you do not add too much or too little. Do not use "hot organics like blood meal or fresh chicken manure under 1 year aged. Chemical fertilizers should say on the label "for container growing". Do not use 10/10/10 or 16/16/16 and similar fertilizers in containers as they are high salt and will burn your plants in containers.
Winterizing Strawberry Plants
If planted in the ground it is important to mulch your strawberry plants with 4 inches of dry loose mulch such as clean straw or pine needles. Other types of mulch can smother your plants. This should be done after plants experience 3-5 hard frost and will help prevent damage from the strawberry crowns freezing. Remove 75% of the mulch in early spring before new growth starts. Leave 25% or 1 inch of mulch so berries do not sit in the mud as they ripen and to impede weed growth.
Winterizing strawberries can be more difficult for container grown strawberries than plants grown in the ground. To help winterize container grown plants, first let the containers experience 4-6 frosts. However, do not let the containers freeze solid or the plants can be killed. Then, move the containers into an area where temperatures do not drop below 30 degrees or rise above 40 degrees, such as a garage or outbuilding. Bring the containers back outside when temperatures are in the mid 40’s during the day with lows in the 30’s at nights.