Easy to grow and relished by many, planting strawberries has always been a nostalgic part our English summers. Although they are popular all year round fruits, come summer (and especially Wimbledon) their popularity soars – with many gardeners scrambling to obtain potted strawberry plants where they can harvest the flavoursome fruits not long after.
The wonderful thing about planting strawberries is that no outdoor space is too unworkable. They can be grown in hanging baskets, growing bags, pots, and in your garden’s beds too. So if you are eager to begin growing your own strawberries, read on!
When to Plant Strawberries
When to plant strawberries will depend on the type of plant you have purchased:
- Bare root strawberry plants should be planted in September.
- Potted strawberries can be planted between April and July.
- Bare root runners are best planted in April.
How to Grow Strawberries
Strawberries are manageable and generally hassle free, so learning to grow them is a great activity for children. But first, whether you are planting them in the ground, or in a container, it is important to prepare their soil correctly.
Growing Strawberries in the Ground
Strawberries require soil that’s rich in organic matter. You can ensure this by adding well-rotted garden compost or manure to the planting hole. Once this has been done, you can then apply some high potash general fertiliser over the top of the soil.
While you initially cultivate the soil, look out for (and remove) any weeds that you see. Strawberry plants have shallow root systems, so they won’t stand much of a chance against a more vigorous weed! The last thing you would wish to do is end up using a herbicide, so inspect your strawberry patch once a day.
Each of your strawberry plants are best planted 30 – 45cm apart from one another. If you are working with rows, section them 75cm apart. The roots should be hidden just below the soil. Once settled into the ground, your strawberry plants will need generous waterings for the next few weeks while they establish.
Growing Strawberries in Pots or Baskets
Planting strawberries in pots or hanging baskets is not only good if you are working with a smaller space, but additionally offers better protection from pests (such as slugs). Another benefit is that you can appreciate burgeoning floral interest right outside your home!
Sporting cherry red blooms, Strawberry ‘Summer Breeze Cherry’ poses a unique take on the more traditional strawberry varieties (which are known for their white upright flowers). As such, we believe it to be an especially fitting addition to a hanging basket or pot, where its distinctive magenta blooms will gracefully cascade over the sides.
Both ornamental and delicious!
Pots and baskets should be no less than 15cm wide to accommodate a larger strawberry plant, but if you are working with smaller plants (such as our 9cm potted strawberries) you could fit in a few for both plentiful crops and blooms.
If you are planting in a pot, add some gravel or broken crocks to the bottom as this will keep the soil free draining. Once planted, water frequently, and apply a tomato feed once every two weeks for a flourishing strawberry plant.
Bare Root Runners
Bare root strawberry runners are available in autumn and spring. Their planting requirements do not differ from planting potted strawberries into your garden.
Edible Hanging Baskets?
If you are a more innovative gardener, you may be wondering whether you can safely grow strawberries with bedding plants in a basket or pot. The answer is yes, but we advise that planting them amongst other edible plants is the safest thing to do. Why not consider Nasturtium, Chrysanthemums, or Lavender as possible companions?
One thing to keep in mind is that strawberries (and tomatoes) require more water than the average bedding plant. To get around this, opt for a sunny site so the soil can dry out more quickly. These fruiting plants are also more greedy when it comes to space, so avoid filling your basket with too many other plants – less is always more.
How Long Does it Take for Strawberries to Grow?
From the first leaves appearing, to the fruits becoming ripe for picking, we would typically say around three months. Nonetheless, a strawberry’s harvesting period will vary depending on its variety. Summer fruiting varieties fall into one of the three – early, mid, or late season cropping. While Strawberry ‘Cambridge’ is considered a mid-season variety, Strawberry ‘Elaina’ is more of a mid to late season variety. We recommend having one of each, so you can have a constant supply of strawberries that sees you through summer to autumn!
You can also buy ‘perpetual strawberries’ (or everbearing strawberries), which produce little flushes of smaller-sized strawberries from summer to autumn.
When to Pick Strawberries
Once your strawberries are red all over, they are ready to be picked. Interestingly, the time of day you pick matters too – the warmest part of the day is most ideal as they will have the most delicious flavour!
Lovingly grown at our nursery in Hampshire, we offer a selection of 9cm strawberries that are perfect for your outdoor space, whatever the size. Why not check them out below?
- ‘Cambridge Favourite’
- ‘Cambridge Favourite’ (Pack of three)
- ‘Elaina’ (Pack of three)
- Summer Breeze Cherry
- Summer Breeze Cherry (Pack of three)