How to Grow Strawberry Plants at Home
You don't need an acre—just a garden or pot—to cultivate this luscious fruit plant.
If you love fresh, juicy strawberries, why not skip the trip to the grocery store and start growing your strawberry plants at home? Like any plant, it takes some work to nurture, but as soon as you pop one of the sweet berries you've tended to in your mouth, you'll realize the effort was worth it. You can grow strawberries from seeds or young plants ("transplants") in the ground, a raised bed, or a container. Here's what to do to grow this hardy fruit plants.
Seeds or Starter Plants
If you want to grow strawberries in the most affordable way, plant seeds, which are very inexpensive. The downside: There's more work involved in getting your seeds ready to plant. If you'd like to make the job easier on yourself, opt for a small starter plant. "Planting transplants is a piece of cake!" says Joan Casanova, of Bonnie Plants, a national retailer of garden plants. "Just dig a hole, cover with soil, water, and you're done." Just remember that these plants will always be pricier than seeds.
Choose a Variety
Home gardeners have a choice of three types of strawberry plants: everbearing, day-neutral, and the most popular June-bearing, which produces the largest yield over a three-week period.
Know When to Plant
The best time to grow a strawberry plant is in spring or fall based on your USDA plant hardiness zone. If you're starting plants from seeds, keep them indoors in direct sunlight until the last risk of frost has passed.
Direct Sunlight Is Key
Like any other plant, this strawberries need to get enough sunlight every day to stay healthy. Pick a place for your plant that's exposed to at least eight hours of daily sun, says Casanova.
Start with Healthy Soil
Get your soil tested so you know if it needs any amendments, says Casanova. You can purchase inexpensive soil test kits at your local garden retailer or local county extension service. "Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8," she says. "If your soil is naturally alkaline, it's best to plant your strawberries in containers filled with premium potting soil." Always use potting soil in pots and garden soil in a garden. Plant your strawberries in a shallow container with drainage holes in four to six inches of soil, making sure to not bury its crown—where the stems meet the roots.
Just the Right Amount of Water
"Too much or too little water will stress the plants and cause them to drop their blooms," says Casanova. Water plants when the soil becomes dry to the touch. "To test, just stick your finger or a pencil about two inches down into the soil. If the soil is dry, it's time to water, but if it's wet, wait until the soil is dry."