Growing Strawberries

Category Growing Food
Strawberries are a tasty and healthy fruit that the whole family can enjoy. Growing them in your garden can be quite easy and rewarding. This is a page about growing strawberries.


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Planning Tips:

Strawberries will grow in the majority of zones (3-10) and can delight growers with a crop of berries in as little as three months after being planted. Junebearing strawberries produce a single crop in late spring and depending on your zone, cultivars can be planted in succession to spread out your harvest. Everbearing strawberries bear two crops each season, one in the spring and a second, smaller crop in the fall with some day-neutral cultivars producing continuously all season. Select plants that have been cultivated to resist the specific problems common to strawberries grown in your area.

Site Preparation:

Strawberries prefer full sun, good air circulation and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 (acidic). Avoid low sites prone to frost or standing water or areas where strawberries, raspberries, potatoes or tomatoes have been grown before.


Plant strawberries in the early spring in holes deep enough to cover the roots without burying the crown. Roots should be trimmed to 4 inches and soaked for 15 to 20 minutes before being set into the soil. Pack soil around the roots, and add some water mixed with diluted fertilizer to the plants while refilling the holes.

Care & Maintenance:

It's important to get strawberry plants off to a good start the first year. In the first season, keep beds free from weeds and remove blossoms to prevent fruit development and encourage healthy, robust daughter plants. Four to six weeks after planting, offsets should be rooted alongside the mother plants. During the late spring and summer, apply an organic fertilizer and repeat the application again 4 to 5 weeks later. To prepare plants for winter, mulch them heavily with straw or pines needles after frost arrives in the fall.

During season two, the plants should receive 1 inch of water per week during fruit development and through until fall. Watch plants for signs of pests or disease and be prepared to protect plants from birds and animals. Strawberries begin to peter out after 1 or 2 seasons of production. Stagger plantings or start over with new plants every 2 to 3 years to maintain productive crops.

Harvesting & Storage:

Check for ripe berries every two to three days-green-tipped berries are not fully ripe. Remove any remnants from plants to discourage rot. Plan on consuming strawberries within a few days to a week after harvesting.
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You can plant strawberries according to several different systems, each having its own advantages and disadvantages. The hill and matted row system are the two most common methods, while growing strawberries in "jars" and hanging baskets works well for gardeners with limited space.

The Hill System

With the hill system, the crowns of the strawberry plants are planted in double rows down the length of a mounded or raised bed. The plants are spaced approximately 12 inches apart, and all of the runners are removed. When properly maintained, a patch of strawberries planted using the hill system can stay productive for as long as 5-7 years, although 3-4 years is more likely.

Advantages: Because the runners are constantly removed, the plants are able to put their energy into producing bigger berries. The strawberry patch also stays productive longer.

Disadvantages: Because you are continuously removing the runners that would form new plants, this system is more labor intensive and requires more plants to start with a greater up-front cost.

Spacing: Set ever-bearing varieties 12 inches apart in a double row (12 to 18 inches between rows). Space day-neutrals slightly closer together: 8-inches apart in a double row, with 12 inches between rows. Overcrowded strawberries create damp conditions that encourage disease. Stagger the plants in the rows to make sure each plant has plenty of room.

Training: Remove all of the runners every few weeks during the growing season. If you prefer, you can peg a few runners into the ground and allow them to form replacement plants.


Best Suited For: Day-neutral and standard ever-bearing varieties that don't produce large numbers of runners.

The Matted Row System

With the matted row system, the crowns are planted spaced farther apart in single rows. The plants are allowed to set runners freely to fill in the spaces between crowns. Plants are spaced approximately 18 inches apart, in rows 3 or more feet apart. Using this system, the runners develop and form additional plants, so your stock increases the second year. Production drops off during the 3rd year, so new plants need to be added to avoid gaps in the harvest.

Advantages: This system requires less labor than the hill system, and requires fewer plants to get started with less up-front cost.

Disadvantages: Because the runners are allowed to set freely, individual berries on each plant tend to be smaller. Replacement plants are necessary to avoid lulls in production.


Spacing: Set new plants 18 inches apart in a single row running down the center of a raised or mounded bed. If you're planting a level plot, leave at least 30 inches between rows.

Training: Allow the plants to set runners in the spaces between crowns and form new plants. During the growing season, keep walking paths free of runners, and remove any that stray more than 18 inches from the rows.

Best Suited For: Varieties that produce lots of runners (June bearers and vigorous standard ever-bearers).

Strawberries in Pots and Hanging Baskets

If you're a gardener with limited space, you might consider growing strawberries in pots or hanging baskets.

Advantages: Plants are off the ground where they are less susceptible to problems from insects and disease.

Disadvantages: Container strawberries mean fewer plants and a smaller crop of berries.

Planting "Strawberry Jars": Although nearly any pot or container will do, "strawberry jars" are attractive, urn-shaped planters (usually made of plastic or terra cotta) with a series of small pockets running along the sides.

To plant them, fill the pot with soil until you reach the lowest level of "pockets" on the sides of the urn. Insert your strawberry plants into the pockets and fill in around them with soil.

After planting the first set of pockets, insert a 1 inch diameter PVC pipe with holes drilled along the sides into the center of the pot (this will be used for watering). Continue to fill the urn with soil and plants until the jar is full.

Planting Hanging Baskets: Use one 12 or 14 inch diameter hanging basket and 4 to 8 plants (any excess growth will readily spill over the sides). Fill the basket with a lightweight potting soil that holds moisture well. Mix in a little compost or other slow release organic fertilizer when planting. Strawberry plants in containers need watering more frequently than those planted in beds, so check moisture levels daily. Hang your basket on a Shepard's hook or use a wall or roof-mounted hook, if your sunny spot is beside the house.

Training: At planting time, remove all visible blooms, runners, and berries that started to develop at the nursery. It's important that all of the plants' energies go into producing strong roots while getting settled in.

Best For: All strawberry varieties. For a harvest that comes all at once (with larger berries), choose June-bearing strawberries. For a continuous crop of smaller berries throughout the season, choose day-neutral varieties. Or you can try a few of both!

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June 6, 2012

My strawberry plants needed more room to run and I found this planter project. Since the first one was made, I've made several more as birthday gifts for my gardening friends.

Tilted Strawberry Planter

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Several people have posted a tip on ThriftyFun suggesting the use of pudding cups for starting seeds and cuttings. My opinion was that they were too small to allow adequate root formation prior to transplanting.

runner rooting in cup sitting on top of soil in black plastic pot

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November 8, 2010

If you have new strawberry plants and don't have time to plant them in the bed right away, no problem. The new plants will await your convenience if you the the method called "heeling in".

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September 1, 2005

For those of you with strawberry planters, here's a tip on how to water them without having it run out the sides. Drill several holes into a PVC pipe that's a little longer than the height of your planter, then insert it down the middle of the planter.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I'd like to grow strawberries this year, so I bought four different types (one is a June bearer and the other three are ever bearing). I bought four plants of each type, so I have 16 total plants. I can't seem to find any information on how much fruit that will yield. I'd like some advice on whether I have bought too many plants or too small an amount of plants.

All four of my family members enjoy fresh strawberries. If there's enough after fresh eating, I'd gladly freeze some for smoothies for later months and would even consider canning some jam. If someone would let me know if I've planted enough plants or if I should go buy more, I would so appreciate it. Thanks.

Hardiness Zone: 7b


By (Guest Post)
April 25, 20080 found this helpful

Strawberry plants usually take two years before they produce any fruit. They grow well in full sun but I have seen them do well in partial shade.

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April 25, 20080 found this helpful

Go with that number ofplants first. They develop new plants on runners (something like a spider plant) and you will find your numbers of plants growing whether you like it or not! Plant them all out as they grow and when they are bigger, you can cut the cord from the mother plant. But who could possibly have too many strawberries!!! Grow them in full sun, water well and mulch around the plants with straw or other mulch. That way you will have luscious berries and keeping them off the ground with help prevent mold. You will soon have strawberry plants to give away to your friends! The best part of being a gardener is sharing!

I plant mine in a compost frame that has holes in the sides. The mother plants are on top and the babies get popped into the holes to grow on in the sunshine.

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By Beth (Guest Post)
April 26, 20080 found this helpful

If you are starting with 16 plants, it will not take very many years and you will have hundreds of plants, if you let the runners from each plant form a new plant. I have a large strawberry patch in Minnesota. There is nothing better than fresh home grown strawberries. Enjoy

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May 1, 20080 found this helpful

I asked the same question somewhere else, and was told that if you want a lot, start with a lot! I have a strawberry pyramid with 50 plants in it. From what I hear, the plants are good for about 3 years, then they start to decline in production. So every year, pull up 1/3 of the plants and put in new ones, grown from runners. Otherwise, pinch off the runners, so the plants will put their energy into fruit production...Cathy

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By michelle (Guest Post)
February 15, 20090 found this helpful

I live in Pensacola. When is the best time to plant strawberries?

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April 29, 2010

I am trying to grow strawberries in a barrel. The plants are doing well but the runner are touching the ground. What do I do with them?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By Glenn Morgan from McGehee, AR


April 30, 20100 found this helpful

I did plant strawberries on the ground and they crept all over.

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May 6, 20100 found this helpful

Set small pots at the base of the barrel and set the "daughters" in them. They will eventually root and be new plants and then you can plant them where ever you want.

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January 29, 2011

I set out everbearing strawberries last year. How many years can I hope to have berries before they need transplanting?

Hardiness Zone: 7b

By Cookie Price from Pleasant Plains, AR

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How to I get the animals to stop eating my strawberries? They are growing on the ground.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By martha from Parma, OH


March 20, 20100 found this helpful

What kind of animals? Neighborhood pets, rabbits, birds, or burrowing critters? If the animals are above-ground, fencing your strawberry patch might work. If the animals can reach them from above, then a fence with netting or chicken wire over the top might work.

If they're burrowing animals, though, someone else would have to step in here, because I'm not sure how to stop them.
I hope this info helps, or maybe inspires you to come up with a better solution!

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July 15, 2009

I live in Georgia and this is the first time trying to grow Strawberries here. I have grown them in Florida and they did great, but they are dying quickly and have not produced much fruit. What can I do to save what I have left?

Hardiness Zone: 7b

By louise from Macon, GA


July 18, 20090 found this helpful

I would say lots of water!

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June 27, 2008

How do I transplant strawberries from my earthbox? Do i need to buy another box? A man once told me not to use the first year runners, if so should I just snip them off?



By Bree (Guest Post)
July 12, 20080 found this helpful

I have had sucess growing strawberries by covering the part of the runner closest to the new plant shallowly with soil and anchoring it there either with a bent piece of wire or a small brick or rock. After the new plant has taken root, you can then cut the runner from the mother plant. If the mother plant is in a container I would place a pot next to it for the new runner to grow in. I have been told to only use first and second year runners because strawberries are usually infected with viruses by the third year, but any runners will take strength from the mother plant and reduce yields. :)

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May 22, 2013

I got some strawberry plants from a friend and I planted them last year. They didn't produce last year and this year they don't have a flower on them yet, so I doubt if I'll get any strawberries this year neither. What am I doing wrong?


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April 30, 2012

Can I till up my old strawberry patch and plant new plants? Or do I have to plant in a different spot?

By Gerald D.

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Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this page.

This is the first year I have been able to grow more than a small handful of strawberries. What a treat to eat them fresh from my own, pesticide-free garden!

By Carol from Iowa

Strawberries from the Garden

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