Learning how to grow strawberries is not very complicated and it is a task that will feel rewarding. The most crucial factor to know is that strawberry plants need a lot of energy to produce berries, so they should always be planted in a place where the sun reaches them.
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Although the plants themselves can survive in shaded areas, lack of sunlight can greatly reduce berry production. Also, strawberry plants prefer well-drained, moist, slightly acidic soil. If all the requirements of the plants can be met, you can increase their yield and berry quality.
Most strawberry plants produce “runners”; these are shoots that the plants release and eventually grow roots and become another strawberry plant. Most varieties will spread pretty quickly this way, so if you have a friend or neighbor who grows strawberries in his garden, he’ll probably be willing to give you a few. But not all strawberry plants are the same; some produce one large crop, others produce several, and the size and flavor of the berries vary.
What do you need to plant and care for strawberries?
Before we begin the process of planting strawberries, we would like to offer you some information that you may need to know beforehand. One of the worst things you can do is venture into planting any seed without first knowing some information about it:
The 4 main types of strawberries
- Wild strawberries: All varieties of wild strawberries are always fertile. Wild strawberry seeds produce “true” seeds for their parents, while garden strawberries (typical types found in garden centers) are hybrid plants, and do not produce true seeds.
- June strawberries: As the name suggests, this type produces a large harvest in 2-3 weeks, and usually in the month of June. While most produce berries in June, there are early, mid and late season varieties as well. Typically this type of strawberry produces the largest strawberries.
- Strawberries of always: This type produces up to three harvests per year. Typically, however, one crop is harvested in late spring and another in late summer. All varieties of wild strawberries are permanent.
- Day Neutral Strawberries: Blooms and produces strawberries year-round from late spring through fall. The fruits are smaller than those of June, and are usually medium to small in size. There is never a big harvest, but strawberries can be found almost every day during the warmer months.
Cultivation of wild strawberries
All varieties of wild strawberries are always fertile, meaning they will produce up to 3 main crops per year. In general, the berries are much smaller than standard, hybrid garden varieties, but are highly aromatic and full of flavor. The alpine type will produce berries that are about twice the size of the common wild (woodland) strawberry.
Growing wild strawberries from seed can be an easy to moderately difficult task. The plants, once established, are robust, drought resistant, and require very little maintenance. When growing strawberries from seed, it’s best to use a wild variety. Common garden hybrid varieties do not produce true seeds. The best time to start growing strawberries is in spring, when the temperature is still cool outside.
Instructions for planting and caring for strawberries
Again, only wild strawberry seeds produce true seeds. All strawberry seeds require some form of cold treatment before germination. One way to do this is to sow the seeds outdoors in late fall, or 4-8 weeks before the last spring frost. Another alternative to increase the germination rate is to cold stratify the seeds.
If you don’t live in a place with the conditions in which strawberries germinate, you could try a method like stratification. This consists of simulating a winter in your seeds so that they are under the same conditions in which they normally grow. Next, we will give you the steps to follow to do this, from its stratification to its transplantation, if you wish:
- Step One: Mix the seeds with equal parts moist peat moss Put them in a zip lock bag
leave them in the refrigerator for at least 4-8 weeks. Don’t let the peat moss dry out. Then plant the seeds in pots filled with sterilized potting soil.
- Step Two: After the seeds have been cold stratified; they can be sown on the surface in some prepared containers filled with soil. It is best to use a quality garden soil when starting the seeds. Leave the seeds uncovered, as exposure to light helps stimulate the germination process. Keep the soil moist and don’t let it dry out completely. Also, make sure to keep the seeds in a place with good air circulation to avoid fungal and mold problems. Wild strawberries can be slow to germinate, taking 2-4 weeks.
- If you start plants in early spring, the plants will generally produce strawberries in late summer of the same year. The following years will have a larger harvest. Try to keep your plants well watered for the first year.
- Step three: Once the strawberry plants have at least two sets of leaves, they can be transplanted outdoors. Wait a couple of weeks after the last frost date before transplanting them outside. You should prepare the garden bed at least a week before transplanting, so the soil has time to settle. Until the soil is deep enough, break up the clods and remove any debris. Then mix the compost and sphagnum peat moss together. Thoroughly water the soil at least a few hours before transplanting plants or sowing seeds.
Tips for planting and caring for strawberries
- Know the type of soil: Strawberries prefer fertile, well-drained, acidic soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. Sphagnum peat moss is often mixed into the soil as it is slightly acidic and helps the soil hold moisture.
- Maintenance: Strawberries can be watered at least once a week or when the soil begins to dry out. Once the plants start producing berries, you may want to cover them with netting. Various types of animals, birds and rodents, like to eat strawberries very much. The plants are very resistant to diseases and pests, so you should not have many problems in this regard.
- Wild strawberry plants produce berries from spring through fall. In late fall, don’t forget to cover them with mounds of leaves as this will protect your plants for the coming year. In late winter or early spring, the plants will start to grow under all those leaves; this will give you a nice head start on the season. The plants are very cold hardy, but don’t find them out too soon, especially if there’s a chance of snowfall.