How to Plant Strawberries

There are certain things that just can’t be bought and strawberries are one of them! You can’t beat fresh berries right off the vine. So continue reading to learn how to plant strawberries in your own garden!  

A strawberry plant getting planted in the garden

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There is nothing better than walking outside of your own home and picking fresh strawberries right off the vine!

They are one of the many fresh fruits that are so much more delicious fresh you will rarely ever catch me buying them from the store.

So let’s learn how to plant strawberries and how they can be the perfect addition to your garden.

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Prior to Planting Strawberries

Before you get strawberries and start planting there are a few important things to know and get ready beforehand that’ll make the entire process much easier.

1st.) Prepare Planting Area

Strawberry plants need at least 8 hours of full sun so pick a location that gets plenty of sunshine.

They also prefer slightly acidic soil with a ph ideally around 5.5 to 6.5. If you’d like to test your soil you can easily do so with a home kit like this one here.

If your soil is too alkaline or too acidic you can plant your strawberries in containers filled with good quality potting soil or just amend your garden beds following some of the recommendations below.

You can raise the pH of soil that is too acidic by adding lime and you can lower the pH of soil that is too alkaline by adding sulfur.

Soil that is rich in clay can be amended by mixing in additives such as composted leaves, organic compost, or pelletized gypsum.

If your soil is sandy you can mix in things such as rich organic compost, peat moss, or composted manure.

But no matter what, be sure that your garden beds or containers have good drainage. You don’t want your strawberry plants to be in standing water.

Another good practice if you’re planting in the ground or in raised beds is to keep your soil soft and lightly worked up throughout the season so that daughter plants can easily root themselves into the soil.

I’ll go over more about strawberry daughter plants below.

2nd.) Pick the Best Strawberry Varieties

Now, this is where it can get a bit tricky!

The first time I went to the nursery to pick out strawberry plants I started looking at all of the varieties and had no idea which ones were best, or even what the difference was between all of them.

As I sat there googling to make sure I was buying the right plants I learned there are three types of strawberries.

  1. June-Bearing Strawberries, which produce all of their fruit at once over about a 3-week period. These plants also produce the most runners with daughter plants and have the largest berries.
  2. Ever-Bearing Strawberries, which produce a large crop from spring blooms, produce a few berries in between and then have a smaller late crop.
  3. Day-Neutral Strawberries, continually produce berries throughout the growing season until the 1st frost. They also tend to be less sensitive to variations in weather and the amount of light they receive.

Ever-bearing and day-neutral don’t shoot off as many runners and they tend to produce smaller berries with a smaller harvest than June-bearing, but they will provide you with berries over a longer time period.

To find out which varieties grow best in your state go to strawberryplants.org and click on your state and it’ll show you the plants best suited for you.

A blooming strawberry plant

Strawberry Growing Season

If you live in an area where strawberries are commercially grown you’ll likely notice that many of them grow strawberries as annuals.

But for the home gardener, it’s best to grow strawberry plants as hardy perennials. They’ll die back in the winter and then make their lovely comeback in the spring.

Plants will bloom in early spring and as the weather begins to warm up your berries should ripen in about 30 days.

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How to Plant Strawberries 

The easiest way to grow strawberries is from already-started transplants. I suggest checking out your local nursery or buying bare-root strawberries from a reputable online supplier such as Nature Hills Nursery.

Then once you have your plants, plant them in your prepared garden beds, raised beds, or pots, as soon as all danger of frost has passed.

Certain varieties shoot off runners, which then produce daughter plants. So typical plant spacing should be around 18” for the majority of plants.

Although some plants do not put off daughter plants so they can be planted closer together. Be sure to refer to your exact variety for spacing.

Once you get the spacing marked, dig a hole just deep enough so that the roots are covered but not the entire crown. The crown should be able to get some exposure to sunlight, which will prevent the plant from rotting.

Labeled parts of a strawberry plant

Strawberry Plant Care

Once you get your strawberries planted here are all of the tips you need for the best success.

1.) How to Water Strawberries

Water plants consistently. Strawberries thrive in moist soil but not in sitting water.

If you notice that your berries seem small it may be that they are not receiving enough water. So watch closely and increase your watering if need be.

2.) Mulch Strawberry Beds

Mulching is not required but will help your strawberries in many ways such as keeping the soil moist and decreasing weeds.

Mulch ideas,

Unfortunately, some organic mulches attract slugs, which will end up eating your strawberries. So that’s why it’s common to see black plastic used on large strawberry farms.

But as long as you keep an eye out and prevent the slugs with a bait such as Sluggo, you should be fine.

3.) Fertilize Your Strawberry Plants

Before fertilizing in early spring it’s always smart to do a soil test because sometimes fertilizing early in the season may cause more harm than good.

For example, if strawberries get too much nitrogen early in the season it can cause the plants to produce soft berries.

However, if the soil test shows a deficiency in certain elements such as phosphorus and potassium you can apply those elements.

You can also add a small amount of nitrogen in early spring if you notice the leaves on your plants are light green, hardly growing, or if your soil is on the more sandy side.

Overall, the best time to fertilize strawberry plants is towards the end of the season after harvest with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 Premium Fertilizer from Hoss Tools.

4.) Protect Your Strawberries from Birds and Pests

A common problem with many fruits is that the birds enjoy them before you do. So one of the best ways to protect your plants is with some sort of bird netting.

Another common pest that will feed on your strawberries is ants and I always believe it’s easier to prevent them if possible.

A great way to prevent ants on your strawberry plants is with diatomaceous earth.

You can sprinkle it around your plants to prevent them from making it onto your strawberries. Or you can sprinkle it directly on the plants and berries if you need to kill the ants.

You can learn more about using diatomaceous earth in your garden in my post here, Simple, Effective Diatomaceous Earth Garden Uses.

5.) Trim Daughter Plants & Blooms During 1st Year

I know this may be difficult but it is best to remove all of the blooms and trim off all of the daughter plants during the first year of strawberry plant growth.

This allows your plants to put all of their energy into growing healthy plants instead of putting energy into fruit production.

This means by the second year of growth, your plants will be even stronger and produce more fruit.

For June-bearing strawberries you should remove all of the blooms which means you will not get a crop in the 1st year.

For ever-bearing and day-neutral you should remove all of the initial blooms in spring and early summer. Then if you’d like, you can keep on the later blooms for a small late harvest.

Then once your mother plants start sending off runners you should trim them off but in the second year, you can train them to root. Ideally, you want daughter plants spaced at least 10 inches apart.

6.) Harvest & Store Properly

When it comes time to harvest, you should pick your strawberries 2-3 days after they have gained full color.

It’s best to pick your berries early in the morning while they are still cool and then immediately put them in the fridge without washing them which will help extend their shelf life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions that relate to growing strawberries.

Do strawberries like acidic soil?

Strawberry plants like slightly acidic soil with a soil pH of around 5.5 – 6.5. Although, if the soil is too acidic strawberry plants will not grow well and will not produce fruit.

Strawberry plants will not grow well in soil that is too alkaline either. So it’s best to do a soil test and amend your soil as necessary.

How many strawberries does one plant produce?

This varies depending on which variety you have, growing conditions, and the age of the plants, but you can see average production in the chart below.

Year 1Years 2-3
Day-neutral1/4 – 3/4 lbs per foot of row1/2 – 1.5 lbs per foot of row
Ever-bearing1/4 – 1/2 lbs per foot of row
June-bearing1/2 – 1 lb per foot of row
Strawberry Plant Production

How to Use Fresh Strawberries

Now, this is what we’ve all been waiting for, eating fresh strawberries right?

Fresh strawberries are delicious all on their own and if you sprinkle them with a little bit of sugar they are even better!

But a few great ways to use them are in recipes such as,

  • Strawberry shortcake
  • Homemade jam
  • Cheesecake with strawberry topping
A bowl of freshly harvested strawberries

Most of all I hope you have fun growing strawberries in your garden. Don’t let all the steps and guidelines overwhelm you.

Strawberries are easy to grow and harvesting your own berries is so rewarding.

So if this is your first time planting strawberries just test it out and remember to find the joy in growing and harvesting your own food. That’s what it’s all about!

Pin it for Later

Strawberries growing on the strawberry plant

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  1. Yes you can, it’s actually good to cut them off because then the plant can put more of its energy into producing fruit rather than growing runners.

  2. Ants!!! Every year I end up splitting my strawberry crop with ants. We have a ton of sugar ants EVERYWHERE we dig on our acre and a half. Any ideas to safely protect my strawberry crop, but keep the ants away? Thanks!

    1. Ant traps containing borax works very well at killing the entire nest. I’ve used the premixed liquid and mixed my own dry and both worked great.

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