If you’re craving the taste of sun-ripened strawberries but don’t have a large garden, I have great news for you; you can get perfectly juicy strawberries by growing them in pots!
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just entering this wonderful world, this complete guide on how to grow strawberries in pots will definitely help you out. From tried and true planting techniques to harvesting and fertilizing, we’ll cover all you need to create a fruitful oasis!
Let’s embark on this exciting journey!
Why Cultivate Strawberries In Pots?
Strawberry roots don’t penetrate deep into the soil, which makes them suitable for container gardening. But this isn’t the only reason why you should try this technique. Let’s see some more specific ones!
1. Limited space: Not everyone has a lot of space to cultivate plants, so often only a balcony or patio is available. Containers allow us to maximize our available space and grow these mouthwatering berries.
2. Portability: Growers often face issues with light exposure or other environmental factors. You can’t really move strawberries planted in the ground. You can fix this issue by growing these berries in containers.
3. Aesthetically pleasing: Containers fit into every garden design, and with their lush foliage and vibrant red fruit, strawberries will look gorgeous on your patio, balcony, or in your garden.
4. Poor soil: Amending soil in outdoor gardens is challenging, time-consuming, and requires testing the soil before planting. You can avoid these problems by making a potting mix that meets all the requirements of strawberries.
5. Pest management: Ground-dwelling insects are the nightmare of every grower. Since containers elevate strawberries, pests become less of a problem. If some critters appear, container growing allows us to spot and remove them in time.
6. Easy maintenance: It’s easier to avoid water accumulation in the soil and enhance drainage if you pot your strawberries. It’s also easier to irrigate and fertilize potted strawberries.
When To Plant
There are two ways to start strawberries: from bare crown roots or transplants available in nurseries.
The first option is typically less expensive but takes a little longer to mature and generate leaves.
No matter which strawberries you use to start, you should plant them in containers at the beginning of spring, i.e. in March or April, which is when temperatures are increasing and the soil starts to thaw.
Which Pot Is Best For Strawberries?
If you go to the store or look for pots online, you’ll notice numerous types made of different materials. There are a few things to pay attention to when choosing a container for your strawberries.
1. Drainage holes: A strawberry container must have holes in the bottom to prevent the soil from waterlogging.
2. Size: When it comes to pot size for your strawberries, you need to pay more attention to width than depth. Since these fruits don’t have deep roots, you can go with pots that are approximately 8 inches deep.
You need to allow your strawberries to spread and generate more runners, so aim for containers that are at least 12 inches in diameter.
Containers of this size can accommodate approximately 2-3 strawberry plants.
3. Pot material: Light-colored synthetic pots are the best for strawberry cultivation. They’re porous and won’t conduct heat.
If you really lack space, you can purchase jars designed specifically for strawberries or go with hanging baskets or vertical towers.
Choosing The Best Strawberry Varieties For Pots
There are 3 main categories of these berries and the good news is that each of them will perform well in pots, so it’s up to your preference. Here’s a short description of each category and my recommendation.
1. Day-neutral strawberries: If you want to have delicious strawberries all summer long, these varieties will do the job. I recommend Albion, Portola, and Seascape.
2. June-bearing strawberries You can have strawberries early in the season if you decide on these varieties. Some of the best varieties include Earligrow, Jewel, and Honeoye.
3. Everbearing varieties: If you want to harvest your strawberries 2-3 times from spring to fall, everbearing varieties are the best. I recommend Sweet Ann, Cabrillo, and Royal Royce.
Complete Planting Guide
After you choose the pot and variety, it’s time for planting! Follow these guidelines to get a bountiful harvest!
1. Preparing The Pot
The first thing you need to do when planting strawberries is fill the container with potting mix.
This fruit needs a lot of nutrients, so make sure the potting soil is rich in organic matter. Additionally, the soil must be well-draining to avoid waterlogging, which can kill your strawberries.
Never use garden soil if you decide on growing strawberries or any other plant in containers. It’s too compact, which can result in suffocating the roots. Another problem with this soil type is that it can be contaminated or infested by pests.
2. Planting The Strawberries
The second step is to find the part of your strawberry where the roots and stem meet. This is referred to as the crown of the plant.
Plant your strawberries in the soil, making sure the crown stays on the soil surface. Pack the potting mix around the root system well. Be careful not to cover the crown with the potting mix.
Potted strawberries will highly benefit from a layer of mulch on the soil. First, it will help the soil retain moisture, and second, it will ensure more nutrients.
As far as the type of mulch is concerned, you can go with straw or other organic mulch types such as compost, pine needles, and grass clippings.
After planting, you need to give your strawberries a good soak. This will help them adjust to their new growing conditions.
Your potted strawberries should start displaying new growth in about a week or so.
Let’s look at how to care for this fruit until harvest.
Caring For Strawberries In Pots
Maintaining strawberries planted in the ground isn’t a hard task, and this is also true for those grown in containers.
Let’s cover the basic strawberry care requirements.
You’ll get the healthiest and most flavorful strawberries if you provide them with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
If you notice your strawberries aren’t developing at a high pace, move the container to a sunnier spot.
Potted strawberries lose water faster, so watering should be more frequent. You’ll need to monitor them regularly and add water as soon as the top 2 inches of the growing medium dry out.
Typically, you’ll need to irrigate twice a week.
If you grow strawberries in pots, feeding them regularly will ensure healthy growth and an abundance of fruit.
I recommend organic fertilizers, specifically fish emulsion. Since this is a liquid fertilizer, it’s very easy to apply and will give your strawberries all the nutrients they need.
How To Propagate Strawberries
These are perennial plants but their life cycle typically ends in 3 to 4 years. The amount of strawberries you’ll get after this time is significantly lower, and the plant will start to die back.
The easiest way to get more strawberries is to continuously plant the runners. These are the tiny strawberry plant parts that develop at the end of the stem on the mother plant.
You should snip off runners in the first year and dispose of them to enhance growth. Runners snipped off in the second year of growth can be planted in containers.
We’re not the only ones who enjoy eating this flavorful fruit. Pests are less of a problem in potted strawberries but that doesn’t mean they won’t occur.
These are the most common ones:
1. Birds: These animals are common strawberry pests. The best solution is to put floating row covers over the pot.
2. Snails and slugs: The chances you won’t see any snails or slugs on your strawberries are pretty low. But planting strawberry companions such as Alliums can help you fix this issue.
Tips On Harvesting Strawberries
You can expect the first of your potted strawberries in about a month and a half. When harvesting, choose only fully ripe fruit and pick them every 2-3 days.
The stems of strawberry plants are pretty sensitive, so pulling the fruit when harvesting isn’t a good technique. Snip off your strawberries using a clean pair of scissors.
By following all our guidelines, your potted strawberries will flourish and be on your plate in no time!