As an easy and popular fruit to grow, knowing when to plant strawberries is important for a bumper, flavorful harvest.
Nothing quite beats a home-grown strawberry, and as they are simple to plant and look after, growing these tasty fruits is a great way of getting children interested in gardening.
A crucial factor in how to grow strawberries is knowing when to plant strawberry varieties to suit your local climate and growing conditions. Get it right, and you could be picking your own within a matter of months.
When to plant strawberries
Strawberry plants, depending on the type, are generally planted out in spring when the soil becomes workable, or at the end of the growing season in fall.
Planting strawberries doesn’t have to take up valuable growing space, as they can be grown in containers, hanging baskets and even vertical wall hangers and are perfect to add to your kitchen garden ideas.
Strawberry plants are hardy perennials and will come back year after year, making them a relatively inexpensive delight to grow. However, ‘strawberry plants are productive for around four years, so it is good to propagate runners regularly to keep rejuvenating your plant stock’ says Debi Holland, an RHS trained horticulturalist who manages Debi Holland Gardening.
When thinking about when to plant your strawberries, several factors need to be considered. ‘The local climate will have an impact on planting times. Note local weather conditions and plant outside in spring when frost-risk has passed. Winds can also be an issue. Plant strawberries in protected areas to reduce flower damage and make it easier for pollinating insects,’ explain Debi.
What month is best to plant strawberries?
The USDA plant hardiness zone and your local climate will have a bearing on which month is best to plant your strawberries.
‘Strawberries are a cooler weather producer and early planting of a day neutral variety is best when evening/morning temperatures are upwards of 45 degrees. Planting a June bearing variety is typically done in either late summer or mid-October to winter over, for fruit picking when you have the longest day length hours of the year,’ says Leonora Meier of expert strawberry growers Lassen Canyon Nursery.
If you are planting strawberries in fall and live in a colder region, you may need to look into ways to winterize strawberry plants to protect them over the coldest months.
Most strawberry varieties grow best in full sun, although they will tolerate some shade. Alpine or wild strawberries, on the other hand, don’t require full sun and are ideal for a shaded spot.
When to plant strawberries under cover
Growing strawberries under cover can lengthen the growing season and even produce a crop as early as April or May, depending on the climate where you live.
There are a number of options for when to plant strawberries under cover, which you can factor into your planting schedule when planning a greenhouse:
- Strawberry plants can be planted in an unheated greenhouse or poly tunnel in the fall to fruit the following spring.
- They can be planted in March to harvest a few months later.
- If grown in a heated greenhouse, strawberries can be planted out as early as December, with pickable fruit ready from late March onwards.
When to plant strawberries grown in containers
Strawberries are often grown as vegetable garden container ideas as they can easily be moved under cover to avoid frosts and then back outside again when necessary, to the sunniest spot in the garden.
When it comes to when to plant strawberries in containers, bare-root and potted plants can be planted out from spring to early summer, hopefully providing the first fruits only several weeks later.
However, if you are growing strawberries from runners, these can be planted out in September to establish before fruiting the following year.
When to plant strawberry seeds
Strawberry seeds can be planted in late winter or early spring. The plants will be small and require some care before planting out. Gradually harden off the young plants before planting out in their final position in spring, but only once all risk of frost has passed.
When to plant strawberries for a summer harvest?
If you plant them at the right time, most strawberry varieties, if planted as bare root or potted plants in spring and given the right conditions, will provide something to eat after 3 months.
When thinking about when to plant strawberries, Leonora Meier suggests ‘the best question a grower should ask themselves is “When do I want to be picking flavorful strawberries?”
‘The answer to that question is to map out your timeline of when your last or first expected frost date is and count backwards 6-8 weeks. That is your planting window to either be picking marketable fruit or having a strong root system to get the plant through the dormant period,’ she explains.
However, it is good to remember that strawberry plants grown from seed won’t crop until their second season, and even potted or bare root grown plants can take a year to establish fully and really produce a bountiful harvest.
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Edward Bowring is a horticultural therapist and writer with a passion for gardening and the health benefits that it has to offer. With a background in occupational therapy, Edward worked within health care settings where he witnessed first-hand the healing power of gardening and has managed and run therapeutic kitchen and community gardens ever since.
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