Grow and Plant Strawberries: Growing Strawberries for Beginners

Why Grow Strawberries at Home?

Strawberries, the red gems of the garden, are arguably among the sweetest ways to step into the world of home gardening. The journey of growing strawberries for beginners unfolds a delightful saga – from the first green shoot peeking out of the soil to the rewarding sight of red, juicy berries. It’s not just about the harvest, but the simple, joyful process that makes strawberries an ideal choice for beginners.

Their minimal demands, paired with the lush rewards, make every little effort feel like a step towards a bountiful, berry-filled victory. So, if you’re looking to turn a patch of earth into a haven of sweetness, you’re on the right path. Through this guide, we’ll walk through the essentials, answering your budding questions and preparing you for a fruitful growing season ahead.

A bowl of fresh homegrown strawberries

Taste Superiority

First off, the taste of homegrown strawberries is unparalleled. Freshly picked strawberries from your garden are likely to be sweeter than the store-bought ones. This is because the sugar in strawberries begins to convert to starch soon after they are picked. So, the sooner they move from garden to table, the sweeter they will be. 

Now, think about biting into a sun-warmed, ruby-red strawberry, freshly plucked from your garden. The burst of sweetness, the juicy texture, and the slight tanginess make for a taste that’s nothing short of a small celebration in your mouth. Store-bought strawberries just can’t hold a candle to that, can they?

Ease of Cultivation

Next up, strawberries are relatively easy to grow, making them a great choice for gardening novices. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or just a tiny balcony, strawberries are happy to grow in various sizes of spaces. They are not too fussy about where they live, and they can thrive in containers, raised beds, or directly in the ground.

  • Space-Friendly: They don’t demand a lot of space and are content even in containers or hanging baskets.
  • Low Maintenance: With a little bit of love and care, they forgive the occasional gardener’s blunder.

And the cherry—or should we say berry—on top? Strawberries are perennial plants. With proper care, they’ll keep producing fruit for several years following the initial planting. 

Ever thought about how rewarding it would be to step outside and pick a bowl of fresh strawberries for breakfast? Or better yet, how about enjoying a lazy summer afternoon, munching on strawberries dipped in cream while lounging in your garden? Growing strawberries at home can turn these sweet fantasies into reality. 

Growing strawberries at home is about more than just the delicious fruits. It’s about enjoying a simple, wholesome activity that yields sweet rewards. 

Varieties of Strawberries

Stepping into the world of strawberry cultivation opens up a vibrant variety of berries waiting to sweeten your garden. It’s essential to know your berries before you plant them. So, let’s dive into the common types of strawberries you might come across.

Different varieties of strawberries displayed

Types of Strawberries

When it comes to strawberries, they mainly fall into three categories based on their fruiting habits:

  • June-bearing varieties: These strawberries produce a large, single harvest usually in June. They are known for a bountiful yield within a short timeframe, a year after planting.
  • Everbearing: Contrary to their name, everbearing strawberries don’t bear fruit forever. However, they do grace your garden with their sweet presence 2 or 3 times a year during spring, late summer, and autumn.
  • Day-neutral: These are the overachievers in the strawberry world. They don’t care about the light and will produce fruit throughout the growing season as long as the temperature is right.

Each type has its own set of advantages. While June-bearing strawberries are great for a large harvest all at once, day-neutral and everbearing varieties spread the joy across the growing season. 

There are over 600 varieties of strawberries, way too many to list here, but below are some of the most popular strawberry varieties that have won the hearts of many gardeners:

NameTypeNotable Features
HoneoyeJune-bearingKnown for its large, firm, and sweet berries
EarliglowJune-bearingEarly ripening, sweet and flavorful
AllstarJune-bearingLarge, sweet fruits, known for its disease resistance
Ozark BeautyEverbearingPopular for its taste and everbearing nature
ChandlerJune-bearingLarge, firm fruits, great for slicing and salads
JewelJune-bearingKnown for its large size and excellent flavor
SeascapeDay-neutralLarge, firm fruits, great for slicing and salads

Each of these varieties has something special to offer, be it the size, flavor, or the timing of the fruiting. For instance, if you’re impatient to taste the fruits of your labor, Earliglow might be your buddy as it ripens early. Or if you fancy a strawberry salad, the Chandler or Seascape varieties could be your go-to with their large, firm fruits perfect for slicing.

Plant Strawberries: Seeds or Plants?

Embarking on your strawberry growing adventure begins with a crucial choice: Which way to grow strawberries? From seeds or to transplant young plants? Both roads lead to juicy, red berries, but each has its own set of stepping stones.

Planting strawberry plants in a garden bed

Planting Basics

Starting strawberries from seeds is a rewarding venture, but it requires a good deal of patience and a pinch of gardening prowess. On the flip side, transplanting young plants is straightforward and sets you on a quicker path to harvesting. Here’s a bit of a scoop on both:

  • From Seeds:
    • More varieties to choose from.
    • Cost-effective, especially if you’re eyeing a strawberry field.
    • Requires starting indoors, with transplanting following later.
  • Young Plants:
    • Quick start, you’re one step closer to the harvest.
    • Easier for beginners, less room for error.
    • A bit pricier, but the time saved could be worth every penny.

Planting Time

Timing is of the essence when planting strawberries. The ideal times are either in the fall or early spring. This timing gives your strawberries a fighting chance to establish themselves before they face the harsh summer or winter weather.

  • Fall Planting:
    • Allows for strong root development before winter.
    • You might get an earlier harvest next season.
  • Early Spring Planting:
    • Frost threats are minimized.
    • Gives the plants ample time to get cozy in their new home before the growing season kicks in.

Whether you choose fall or spring for planting, ensuring your strawberries have a comfy bed of well-drained, fertile soil and plenty of sunshine will set them on the path to a bountiful harvest.

Guide to Planting: Site and Soil Preparation

The foundation of a fruitful strawberry garden lies in the right site and well-prepared soil. Let’s unravel the details of picking the perfect spot and prepping the soil to welcome your strawberry plants.

Caring for strawberry plants

Growing Conditions: Choosing the Right Spot

Selecting the right spot is like setting the stage for your strawberries to shine. Here’s what to look for:

  • Full Sun: Strawberries love basking in the sun. A spot with at least 6-8 hours of sunlight is what you’re aiming for.
  • Well-Drained Soil: Nobody likes wet feet, and strawberries are no exception. Well-drained soil ensures the roots aren’t waterlogged.
  • Rich Soil: A rich, fertile soil is the bedrock of healthy, productive strawberry plants.

The right spot is where your strawberries get to soak up the sun, have soil that’s just moist enough, and is rich in nutrients. 

Soil Preparation

Now onto prepping the soil to make it a cozy home for your strawberries:

  • pH Level: Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH level of 5.8 to 6.5. Testing the soil pH and amending it accordingly is your first step.
  • Organic Matter: Enrich the soil with plenty of organic matter. This not only feeds your strawberries but also improves soil structure.
  • Nitrogen: Strawberries need nitrogen, especially in the early stages of growth. A balanced fertilizer or well-rotted manure can do the trick.

Here’s a breakdown of steps to prep your soil:

  1. Test Soil pH: Purchase a soil test kit from a garden center or send a soil sample to a local extension service.
  2. Amend pH if Necessary: If the pH is too high, add sulfur. If it’s too low, add lime. Follow the instructions on the product for correct amounts.
  3. Add Organic Matter: Mix in compost, well-rotted manure, or other organic matter to enrich the soil.
  4. Add Fertilizer: Apply a balanced fertilizer according to package instructions, or use well-rotted manure.

So, with a bit of soil TLC and a sunny spot, you’re well on your way to creating a hospitable haven for your strawberries. 

Growing Strawberries in Pots, Raised Beds, and More

Planting strawberries is a garden adventure with multiple paths. Whether you have a spacious backyard, a small patio, or a balcony, there’s a strawberry planting strategy that suits your space. Let’s explore the various ways you can plant and grow strawberries.

Ground Planting

Planting strawberries in the ground is traditional and straightforward. Two popular methods are the row system and the hill system.

strawberries growing in rows
  • Row System: This method is about planting strawberries in rows, keeping a distance of about 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters) between each row. It allows for easy access and maintenance.
  • Hill System: If space is limited, the hill system is a go-to. Here, plants are grouped in raised beds or “hills”, facilitating better drainage and easier harvesting.

Here are the steps to get your strawberries in the ground:

  1. Choose a Sunny Spot: Locate a sunny spot with well-drained, fertile soil.
  2. Prepare the Soil: Amend soil with compost and ensure the pH is between 5.8 to 6.5.
  3. Planting: Dig holes large enough for the roots, keeping a spacing of 18-30 inches apart (45-76 cm) and 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 meters) between rows.
  4. Watering: Water the plants generously after planting, focusing on the soil, not the leaves.
  5. Mulching: Apply straw mulch to keep the soil moist and deter weeds.
  6. Fertilizing: Use a balanced fertilizer to encourage growth.

Container Planting

Container planting offers a flexible and convenient approach to growing strawberries, making it possible to cultivate these delicious berries in limited spaces such as balconies, patios, or decks. You can utilize pots, hanging baskets, or raised beds, each with its own set of advantages.

Pots: Perfect for patios or balconies, pots allow you to grow strawberries even in the smallest of spaces. Here are some considerations:

  • Potting Mix: Use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix, ideally one with added organic matter which will provide the necessary nutrients. Avoid using garden soil as it tends to compact, hindering root growth.
  • Number of Plants: The number of plants per pot will depend on the size of the pot. A 12-inch (30 cm) diameter pot can comfortably accommodate 2-3 strawberry plants. Ensure that the plants have enough room to grow without overcrowding.
  • Moisture Levels: Pots tend to dry out faster than ground soil, especially during warm weather. It’s crucial to check the moisture levels frequently, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. Consider using a moisture meter to monitor soil moisture levels.

Hanging Baskets: Not only do they save space, but the sight of strawberries cascading from a hanging basket is also truly enchanting.

strawberries growing in a hanging basket
  • Watering: Hanging baskets may require daily watering as they dry out quickly. Drip irrigation or a self-watering system can be a lifesaver for keeping the soil moist, especially in the summer.
  • Fertilizing: Liquid fertilizers are an excellent choice for hanging baskets as they provide a steady supply of nutrients which is essential as the frequent watering can leach away nutrients.

Raised Beds: These offer numerous advantages including good drainage, ease of access, and being easier on the back!

  • Soil Preparation: Fill the beds with a mix of topsoil, compost, and other organic matter to create a rich, well-draining environment for your strawberries.
  • Spacing: In raised beds, you can space your strawberry plants about 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart to allow for good air circulation and ease of access for harvesting.
  • Mulching: Mulch around the plants to help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and keep the fruits clean.

Through container planting, you can control the soil quality, overcome poor drainage issues, and also deter some ground-dwelling pests. Whichever method you use, growing strawberries in containers can be a rewarding experience with a bountiful harvest waiting to be enjoyed!

Innovative Planting Techniques

For those with limited space or an appetite for something different, here are some innovative planting strategies:

  • Vertical Planting: Use vertical planters or stackable pots to grow strawberries upward, saving ground space.
  • Planting in Pipes: PVC pipes with holes can house several strawberry plants. Hang or mount them vertically or horizontally.
  • Pallet Planting: Old wooden pallets can be transformed into strawberry planters. Fill the slats with soil and plant your berries.

Each of these methods is a neat way to fit strawberry growing into small spaces or to add a quirky touch to your garden. 

Care and Maintenance of Strawberry Plants

Now that your strawberries are comfortably nestled in their new home, the next chapter in their life (and yours) is ensuring they grow healthy and fruitful. Let’s explore how to quench their thirst and keep them neat and tidy.

gardener watering and mulching strawberry plants (Small)

Watering and Mulching

Water is the elixir of life for strawberries, but how and when you water them makes all the difference:

  • Watering: Strawberries enjoy a good drink, especially during the growing season. It’s best to water them early in the morning to let the leaves dry out during the day, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Aim for about 1-1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm) of water per week, either from rain or supplemental watering.
  • Mulching: Mulch is like a snug blanket for your strawberries. It conserves moisture, keeps the weeds at bay, and ensures the berries stay clean and dry. Straw is a favored mulch, but you can also use wood chips. Pine needles can aid in lowering the soil’s pH level, favoring the slightly acidic to neutral conditions preferred by strawberries. The loose structure of pine needle mulch allows for good water penetration and prevents soil erosion. 

Watering wisely and mulching generously will not only quench your strawberries’ thirst but also keep them cozy and protected. How about turning watering and mulching into a morning ritual?

Pruning and Handling Runners

Post fruiting, your plants would appreciate a good trim, and managing strawberry runners is crucial for a well-maintained strawberry patch.

  • Pruning: After the fruiting season, it’s time to give your plants a good haircut. Prune off the old leaves to encourage new growth. It keeps the plant healthy and ready for the next fruiting cycle.
  • Handling Runners: Runners are the strawberry plant’s way of saying, “Hey, I need more room!” They are extensions of the plant that can root and form new plants. However, allowing all runners to grow can lead to an overcrowded, less productive patch. Trim most runners, keeping just a few if you want to propagate new plants.

By giving your strawberries a little tender, loving care through prudent pruning and runner management, you’re setting the stage for continued harvests. 

Companion Planting

When it comes to growing strawberries, having the right neighbors can make all the difference. Certain plants can help your strawberries thrive, while others might be party poopers. Let’s discover who’s who in the plant neighborhood.

strawberries and marigolds

Beneficial Companions

Some plants play well with strawberries, offering them protection from pests or enhancing their growth. Here’s a list of friendly neighbors:

  • Chives: Deter unwanted guests like aphids from visiting your strawberry patch.
  • Sage: Not just a culinary herb, but also a deterrent for pests like the cabbage moth.
  • Marigolds: Their strong scent confuses and keeps away harmful insects.
  • Onions: Their pungent smell can deter pests, creating a safer haven for your strawberries.
  • Garlic: Its strong aroma can keep harmful insects and fungal diseases at bay.
  • Lettuce: A peaceful neighbor that doesn’t compete for space or nutrients.
  • Spinach: Like lettuce, it’s easy-going and doesn’t encroach on your strawberries’ space.

By planting these companions nearby, you’re setting up a friendly community for your strawberries. 

Plants to Avoid

However, not every plant is a good companion. Some can invite trouble in the form of pests or diseases. Here’s who to avoid in the vicinity of your strawberries:

  • Tomatoes: They can pass on a nasty fungus to your strawberries.
  • Potatoes: Like tomatoes, they harbor the same harmful fungus.
  • Eggplant: Another carrier of that unfriendly fungus.
  • Capsicum: It shares similar pests and diseases with strawberries, which could lead to a bigger problem.

Keeping these plants at a distance from your strawberries could save you a lot of trouble down the road. It’s all about creating a harmonious garden community. 

Pests and Diseases

Growing strawberries can be a sweet adventure, but sometimes unwanted guests and pesky ailments try to crash the party. Let’s learn how to keep them at bay.

Common Pests

Strawberries are a fan favorite, not just among humans but also among a variety of pests. Here’s a roundup of usual suspects and how to deal with them:

  • Slugs and Snails: They fancy a strawberry feast. Deter them by spreading crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth around your plants.
  • Aphids: These tiny critters suck the life out of strawberry leaves. A strong water spray or insecticidal soap usually sends them packing.
  • Birds: They might swoop in for a berry good time, but netting or scare tactics can keep them at bay.
  • Strawberry Spider Mites: These mites can cause leaf discoloration. Regular sprays of water or introducing predatory mites can help control them.

Disease Management

Strawberries are susceptible to certain diseases. Knowing what to look for and how to prevent these issues can save your harvest:

  • Botrytis: Also known as gray mold, it loves damp conditions. Ensure good air circulation and remove infected fruits and leaves promptly.
  • Powdery Mildew: Appears as white powdery spots on leaves. Keep foliage dry and apply milk sprays as a preventative measure.
  • Fungal Diseases: Various fungi can trouble your strawberries. Keeping a clean garden and rotating crops can be a big help.

Now, let’s lay it out in a table for a quick reference:

ProblemPrevention MethodNatural Remedies
Slugs and SnailsCrushed eggshells, Diatomaceous earthBeer traps
AphidsStrong water spray, Insecticidal soapNeem oil, Ladybugs
BirdsNetting, Scare tacticsNone specific
Strawberry Spider MitesRegular water sprays, Predatory mitesNeem oil
BotrytisGood air circulation, Remove infected partsNone specific
Powdery MildewKeep foliage dry, Ensure air circulationMilk spray, Baking soda
Fungal DiseasesClean garden, Crop rotationOrganic fungicides

By keeping an eye out and taking preventive measures, you can ensure that your strawberry patch remains a happy and healthy place. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

When it comes to growing strawberries for beginners, queries pop up like strawberries in the spring. Let’s tackle some common questions to smooth out the bumps on your berry journey.

Strawberries growing in containers

Starting from Seeds or Plants

Is it better to start from seeds or go with young plants? Well, seeds are cheaper but require a longer growing period before they fruit, and they can be a bit finicky. Young plants, on the other hand, are straightforward, giving you a head start on the growing season and a faster route to that first juicy berry. For beginners, young plants are usually the better bet. You can buy bare rooted young plants from most nurseries.

Yield Expectations

Wondering how many plants you’ll need for a fruitful harvest? On average, a strawberry plant yields about 500 grams of fruit. For a family of four, planting around 30 plants should keep the strawberry shortcake coming all summer long. 

How to Overwinter Strawberries?

Winter is coming, but that doesn’t have to be bad news for your strawberries. Mulch with straw or pine needles to keep the soil temperature steady, and if you’ve got potted strawberries, move them to an unheated garage or basement. They like to go dormant while it’s cold, so a little winter nap, and they’ll be ready to go come spring. 

How to Deal with Excess Runners?

Runners are strawberry plants’ way of saying, “Let’s take over the garden.” These ambitious offshoots are a natural mechanism for strawberries to propagate and expand their territory. Cutting them off ensures that the main plant gets all the nutrients and doesn’t get too crowded. But before you snip them away, you might want to consider rooting these runners to get new plants. 

Separating runners from the mother plant is a fairly straightforward task. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Identify the Runner: Look for long stems growing out from the main plant with little baby plants forming at their tips.
  2. Root the Runner: Allow the runner to root by either letting it touch the soil or placing it in a separate pot with soil. You can use a hairpin or a piece of wire to keep the runner in contact with the soil until it roots.
  3. Cut the Runner: Once the runner has rooted and established itself (which could take a few weeks), use a pair of clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut it away.

Now, about fruiting, patience is key. The runners will generally follow the same fruiting pattern as the mother plant. However, if it is a June-bearing variety, the new plants from runners will likely not fruit until the next year. On the other hand, ever-bearing and day-neutral varieties may bear fruit in the same year if the runners are rooted early in the season.

What Are the Best Organic Fertilizers for Strawberries?

Feeding your strawberries well is the key to sweet success. Organic fertilizers like compost, well-rotted manure, or a balanced organic fertilizer will do the trick. They love a bit of high-nitrogen fertilizer in early spring when the leafy growth is happening, and again in late summer to boost fruit production.


Embarking on the strawberry-growing journey isn’t just about the sweet, red rewards awaiting at the finish line. It’s about tuning in to the rhythm of nature, nurturing life from the soil up, and learning something new every day. The ease of growing strawberries is a gentle invitation into the world of gardening, especially for beginners.

Strawberries are like the friendly neighbors of the plant kingdom. They don’t demand much, but give back a bounty of sweetness. The journey from planting that first seed or young plant, to watching the first green leaves unfurl, and eventually rejoicing at the sight of the first ripe berry, is nothing short of gratifying. And the best part? You don’t need a green thumb, just a little patience, and a willingness to get your hands a tad dirty.

This red-berried venture is not just about bringing fresh flavors to your table, but also about understanding the rhythm of nature, the joy of cultivation, and the sense of achievement that comes with it. With every little effort, you’re not just growing strawberries; you’re growing a healthier, happier version of yourself. Ready to dip your toes into this berry exciting endeavor? Good luck!

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