Top 15 Questions About Growing Strawberries …

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Answers to your pepper questions from the experts at the National Garden Bureau.

Strawberries are a fun addition that can easily be grown in gardens, containers, and window boxes! Think strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, or eaten straight from the garden! Any way you eat them, it’s a major “YUM!”

15 Questions About Growing Strawberries

1. Do strawberries attract bees? 

Strawberries NEED bees and bumblebees! And the strawberry blossoms are a real treat for them. Planting a strawberry plant contributes greatly to biodiversity.

2. What are the differences between Junebearing andeverbearing strawberries? Which is better for the garden?

June-bearing strawberry varieties—as the name says—bear fruit only in June. If you like to harvest fruit all summer long, we advise everbearing varieties. AAS National Winner Delizz® is an everbearing variety.

3. How do I plant my strawberry plants?

A straw mulch is ideal for growing strawberries. Photo: On the Green Road, flickr.com

If you want to plant your strawberries in a container, you will need a large container with at least 5 quarts (liters) of soil per plant. Leave the root ball protruding about 1-inch (2.5 cm) above the surface. If you are planting in the ground, it is better to cover the root ball with a thin layer of soil (approx. 0.5 in/2.5 cm) and a layer of straw. This way you prevent the root ball from drying out.

Planting depth for strawberry plants. Ill.: Bonnie Plants

Planting too deep or too shallowly is bad for the development of the plant. Always plant it with the base of the plant just at the surface of the soil.

Make sure you choose a sunny spot in the garden as strawberries love the sun.

4. I just brought home my new strawberry plants. When should I expect my first strawberries? 

You can expect your first strawberries 4 weeks after you see the first bloom.

5. How many strawberry plants should I plant per person?

10 ever-bearing plants should provide strawberries for one person every day of the season.

6. Should I cut off the runners from my strawberries?

It’s best to remove runners, cutting them off at the base of the mother plant, if you want a good crop. Ill.: http://www.slideshare.net

Cut off all runners, otherwise, your strawberry patch will become too crowded and your plants won’t grow as well and will produce fewer berries.

7. Birds keep eating my strawberries. What should I do?

Netting is the easiest solution to keeping birds from eating your strawberries. Photo: yumuniverse.com

Many gardeners simply cover the plants with bird netting, available in any garden center or hardware store. Stake it to hold it above the plants so birds can’t reach through the netting with their beaks and peck at the fruits. Or grow strawberries with white fruits: birds never seem to notice those.

8. How long do strawberry plants produce?

June-bearing varieties produce fruit for 5–6 weeks. Ever-bearing varieties produce fruit for 3 months; even 6 months in mild climates. Strawberry plants are best considered short-lived perennials, as their production declines over time. Usually, you’ll need to replace them every 3 to 4 years. Always buy virus-free plants.

9. Can strawberries overwinter?

Many gardeners simply use the straw mulch they already use for their strawberries in summer to cover the plants in late fall as a winter protection. Photo: OklahomaGardening

Yes, they can. Most strawberries will survive considerable freezing, but they are still somewhat variable in their hardiness. Some are adapted to USDA hardiness zone 3 – very cold! – while others no more than zone 6, so if you live in a colder climate, make sure you check at purchase time. If you live in an area with mild winters, little to no winter care may be necessary. In more northern areas that have heavy freezing, it’s best to mulch even hardy strawberries for the winter.

10. When should I buy new plants? 

It is best to buy new strawberry plants of everbearing varieties in the spring. For June-bearing varieties, it is best to purchase new plants in August.

11. I am having problems with pill bugs eating my strawberries. Is there anything safe to use around my strawberries that will get rid of them? I have mulch around my plants. Should I remove the mulch so they won’t have any place to hide?

Pill bugs (sowbugs) just love strawberries! Photo: http://www.howdogardener.com & wiki.bugwood.org

Pill bugs like a dark moist environment, so many types of dense mulch may encourage them. Try using straw mulch instead: it’s more aerated, discouraging pill bugs and other soil critters.

12. Is it okay for strawberries to touch the soil?

No, you won’t want your strawberries to rest on the soil, because it will hasten deterioration and encourage pests (like the pill bugs above). Instead, use abundant straw mulch around the base of the plant to keep the berries off the soil.

13. Is the strawberry plant a good choice for wetter areas? 

No, strawberries don’t like soggy soil. Make sure that the excess water can drain. In rainy weather or when the plant and the soil are too wet, fruit might rot. A straw bed under the plant ensures that fruit dries quickly after every rain and also no sand splashes onto the fruit.

14. What is the best fertilizer for strawberries? 

Add water-soluble fertilizer once a week. Choose a complete fertilizer with macro and microelements. Most all-purpose fertilizers are perfect. Avoid fertilizers with much more nitrogen than potassium, as too much nitrogen stimulates green growth over flowers and fruit. A 30-10-10 fertilizer (the first number being nitrogen), therefore, would not be a good choice.

15. I just planted bare root everbearing strawberries and they’re already in bloom. I’ve read it’s best to remove the blossoms the first year so they can develop stronger roots. Other sources say it’s fine to let the blossoms go and enjoy strawberries the first year. Which is better?

Remove only the first flowers from bare-rooted plants. Photo: 7GsALLDAY, reddit.com

With bare-rooted everbearing strawberry plants, remove only first flowers. This will help the plant put its energy into rooting so it can get off to a good start. After that, though, let them bloom their heads off and enjoy an excellent harvest the first year.


So, go ahead and plant strawberries in your own Victory Garden 2.0! They’re really quite easy to grow!

Unless otherwise mentioned, photos are from the National Garden Bureau.

3 thoughts on “Top 15 Questions About Growing Strawberries …

  1. The squirrels and chipmunks have ruined strawberry crops in previous years, so this year I planted them in a vintage metal double wash tub on a stand. They are doing well, but I’m wondering if there is any way I can overwinter them in those tubs or will they freeze solid. I guess time will tell. Gardening – it is always an experiment. 🙂

    • Well, theoretically they could freeze solid. (Obviously you know what containers are like in the winter!) However, I managed to keep them going in a whiskey half barrel for several years. Of course, it was on the ground (insulation from below) and wood insulates from the sides as well, to a certain degree. Still, this was in a much colder climate than yours.

  2. If runners are allowed to mature a bit, they can be grown into more plants for somewhere else, or to replace aging original plants. However, they should not stay attached for too longs, as they compromise production. Also, even if original plants get replaced regularly, virus eventually moves in. If production declines slowly, it may not be obvious that virus is a problem.

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