The Ultimate Guide on How to Plant Strawberries: Grow Lush Berries at Home

Thinking of planting strawberries this season? We’ll guide you through the process with easy steps on how to select the right varieties, prepare your soil, and care for your strawberry plants. Stay with us for a straightforward approach to cultivating sweet, juicy strawberries right in your backyard without any fuss.

Key Takeaways

  • There are three main strawberry varieties: June-bearing, day-neutral, and everbearing. Each have unique growing patterns and characteristics suited to different climates and cultivator preferences.

  • Proper garden preparation is essential for strawberry growth. This includes selecting a sunny location, testing and amending soil to ideal pH levels, and implementing strategies for effective weed control.

  • Continuous care for strawberry beds is crucial, which includes mulching for weed and moisture management, balancing watering practices, and protecting plants from pests and diseases, complemented by post-harvest fertilizing for the next growing season.

Selecting the Right Strawberry Varieties

Various strawberry varieties growing in a garden

Your journey to plant strawberries begins with the selection of the appropriate variety. Strawberries are mainly categorized into three types which are June-bearing, day-neutral, and everbearing. Each type has their own distinct characteristics and growing patterns. Each type has unique characteristics and benefits, suited to different climates and soil conditions.

Let’s examine these distinct varieties and their individual characteristics.

June Bearing Delights

June-bearing strawberries, as the name suggests, delight us with their large yields over a short period, typically in June to early July. June bearing strawberry plants are rated as early, midseason, or late june bearing varieties, depending on the time they produce fruit. Some popular cultivars include ‘Allstar,’ ‘Earliglow,’ and ‘Jewel’, each offering unique attributes and flavors.

Their hardiness makes June-bearing strawberries ideal for northern gardens with brief seasons. These strawberries are known for their concentrated production schedule, beginning when the daytime temperatures consistently exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit, signaling the arrival of longer and warmer days. Their abundant yield makes them an excellent choice for those who enjoy making jams, jellies, or freezing berries for later use.

Day Neutral Dynamics

The next kind of strawberry variety is “day-neutral”. Home gardeners often favor day-neutral strawberries because:

  • These plants are not sensitive to day length and can bear fruit throughout the growing season

  • They offer three production peaks each year

  • They are suitable for various garden locations due to their fewer runner production

  • They can fruit from spring until the first fall frost

Day-neutral varieties like ‘San Andreas,’ ‘Seascape,’ ‘Valiant,’ and ‘Albion’ each have unique attributes, including:

  • Early season production

  • Suitability for warmer climates

  • Consistent fruiting

  • Disease resistance

  • Exceptional flavor

Such variety allows you to choose a type that best suits your palate and garden conditions.

Everbearing Essentials

Everbearing strawberries, true to their name, offer consistent yields throughout the season. They begin with a significant harvest in June, followed by regular fruiting through summer, and conclude with another large harvest of flavorful berries in the early fall.

Everbearing strawberries are sometimes referred to as wet berries. Here are their advantages:

  • They are noted for their superior sweetness and taste quality.

  • They are more winter-hardy than other types, making them suitable for colder regions.

  • They require less maintenance, making them ideal for novice gardeners or those who prefer a low-maintenance garden.

Preparing Your Garden for Strawberry Success

Soil test kit and gardening tools for soil preparation

Once you’ve chosen the apt strawberry variety, your next move is to prime your garden for a successful season. This involves selecting a sunny site, testing and amending your soil, and implementing weed management strategies.

An adequately prepared garden provides an ideal environment to grow strawberries, promising a plentiful harvest.

Soil Preparation and Amendments

The key to a productive strawberry bed lies beneath the surface – in the soil. Before planting strawberries, conducting a soil test is necessary to determine if supplemental nutrients are required. Once you have the results of the soil test, you can address specific nutrient needs to avoid accumulation of salts or other excess additives.

Incorporating well-rotted compost into the soil can significantly boost the nutrient levels, improve drainage, and enhance microbial activity. Aim to work about 3 inches of compost into the top six inches of soil for lasting plant productivity. This organic material will improve your soil quality, ensuring well-drained soil and an optimal pH range of 5.3 to 6.5 for your strawberries to thrive.

Location and Light Requirements

When it comes to strawberry cultivation, location plays a pivotal role. Choosing the perfect spot can make all the difference between a thriving strawberry patch and a lackluster one. Strawberries need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, with eight to ten hours being ideal for maximizing fruit production.

When selecting a location, it’s key to choose a site away from trees and buildings that may provide excessive shade – these tall structures can negatively affect growth and yield. Also, to minimize competition for water and nutrients, ensure the strawberry bed is positioned out of the root zone of any large trees.

Weed Management Strategies

The shallow root systems of strawberries make them prone to weed infestations. They can easily compete with your plants for water and nutrients, impacting their overall health and productivity. Hand-weeding is often recommended, especially in the early stages of plant establishment, to control weeds without harming the strawberries’ delicate roots.

In addition to hand-weeding, you can also use mulch films and organic materials like pine needles to control weeds. These materials suppress weeds and add nutrients to the soil as they decompose, promoting a healthier growing environment for your strawberries. For larger strawberry patches, careful cultivation with a hoe can be effective, but be careful not to dig too deeply and disturb the plant roots.

Planting Strawberries Step-by-Step

Hands planting bare-root strawberry plants in a garden

Once you’ve selected the appropriate variety and prepped your garden, you’re ready to plant your strawberries. In this section, we’ll walk you through the planting process step-by-step, focusing on important aspects such as spacing and depth precision, handling bare-root plants, and caring for potted starts.

Spacing and Depth Precision

Proper spacing and planting depth can greatly influence the growth and yield of strawberries. As a general rule, strawberries should be spaced 18 inches apart, with rows about 4 feet apart to accommodate walking and picking. This spacing allows for ample airflow and sunlight, promoting healthy growth and reducing the risk of disease.

The depth at which you plant your strawberries is equally important. The crown, which is the part of the plant where the stem meets the roots, should be level with the soil. If the crown is buried too deep, it could rot; if it’s too high, the plant may dry out. For potted starts, maintain the same soil level they had in the pot to ensure a smooth transition.

Handling Bare Root Strawberries

Bare-root strawberries are young plants that are sold with their roots exposed, rather than in a pot with soil. They’re a popular choice among gardeners, as they tend to establish quickly and grow robustly. Before planting, these strawberries should be soaked for an hour to hydrate their roots. Any damaged or excessively long roots should be trimmed to encourage new growth and ensure proper soil contact.

When planting bare-root strawberries, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the crown is at the soil line.

  2. Space the plants 8 to 12 inches apart.

  3. Water the strawberries immediately after planting to help settle the soil around the roots and eliminate air pockets.

Caring for Potted Strawberry Starts

If you choose to start with potted strawberry plants, there are a few key points to keep in mind. These plants should be gradually introduced to outdoor conditions over a week before transplanting – a process known as hardening off. This gradual exposure helps them adjust to the outdoor environment and reduces the risk of transplant shock.

Once transplanted, potted strawberry starts require the following care:

  1. Thorough watering to help settle the soil around the roots and eliminate air pockets.

  2. Monitoring the moisture level of the soil closely in the initial weeks after transplanting to prevent water stress.

  3. Using a well-draining potting mix to promote even water distribution, reducing the chances of waterlogging and ensuring a healthy start for your strawberries.

Nurturing Your Strawberry Bed

Mulched strawberry bed with ripe strawberries

After planting your strawberries, the next step in your gardening expedition is to care for your strawberry bed. This involves regular mulching, proper watering, and vigilant protection from pests and diseases.

Let’s examine these vital aspects in-depth to help your strawberries develop into healthy, productive plants, starting from the care of mother plants.

Mulch Magic

Mulching is a beneficial technique that offers numerous advantages to your strawberry bed. Using straw mulch helps keep weeds at bay, regulate soil moisture, and prevents berries from sitting in the mud – a trifecta of benefits that promote healthy strawberry plants.

Additionally, straw mulch acts as an insulator, keeping strawberry plant roots cool and healthy even during the summer. It also provides protection against winter cold when applied at a depth of 4 to 6 inches.

In the spring, gently rake off most of this mulch, leaving a thin layer through which the plants can grow. This practice will ensure a clean, weed-free environment for your strawberries to thrive.

Water Wisdom

Proper watering is a pivotal part of maintaining your strawberry bed. Strawberry plants should be watered with approximately one to two inches of water every week during their growing and fruit-bearing periods. They have shallow root systems, necessitating regular watering to prevent the soil from drying out quickly.

However, while regular watering is crucial, it’s equally important not to overwater. Over-watering can dilute the flavor of strawberries, lead to soggy soil, and result in root rot and nutrient deficiencies. Both over and under-watering can cause wilting, root rot, and diminished fruit production in strawberry plants. Hence, maintaining a balance is key.

Shielding Strawberries from Harm

Protecting your strawberry plants from harm is a crucial aspect of nurturing your strawberry bed. Strawberries face threats from various critters – birds and rabbits that fancy a sweet treat, slugs and snails that can damage the plants, and fungal diseases that can wreak havoc on your strawberry patch.

Bird netting is an inexpensive and effective method to protect your strawberries from birds and rabbits.

For fungal diseases, regular removal of old or dead leaves improves air circulation and can help protect against these diseases by redirecting energy towards blooms and overall plant health.

Encouraging Healthy Growth and Flowering

Once your strawberry bed is well-cared for, your next move is to propagate strawberry plants, promoting robust growth and flowering. This involves managing flower buds and applying appropriate fertilizers.

Effectively managing these elements can considerably boost the growth and yield of your strawberry plants.

Managing Flower Buds for Optimal Yield

Managing flower buds is a critical aspect of strawberry cultivation. For June-bearing strawberries, it’s recommended to remove flower buds manually in the first year to strengthen plants and prevent fruiting stress. This practice diverts energy from fruiting to establishing a robust plant, leading to stronger plants and potentially improved yields in the following years.

Day-neutral strawberries should have their flower buds and runners removed only through early July of the first year. After this time, they can be allowed to fruit. This selective removal of flower buds allows the plants to focus their energy on growth in the early stages, resulting in a more robust plant that can bear more fruit in the future.

Fertilizer Fundamentals

Fertilizers play a crucial role in the healthy growth and flowering of strawberries. The application of fertilizers should occur at the beginning of the growing season and post-harvest to prepare for next season’s blooms. A balanced fertilizer once the potted strawberry starts are established can encourage strong initial growth.

However, it’s important to avoid over-fertilization, which can lead to excessive leaf growth and a reduction in flower stalk production. Regular soil testing and careful nutrient level monitoring can help prevent this issue and ensure your strawberries receive the optimal amount of nutrients for healthy growth and bountiful fruit production.

Harvesting and Enjoying Your Strawberries

Harvested strawberries in a basket with leaves and flowers

The time you’ve been eagerly awaiting has arrived – you can now harvest and relish your strawberries! Nothing beats the satisfaction of picking ripe, juicy strawberries from your own garden. Let’s understand how to identify when strawberries are ripe for harvest and the best methods to handle and store them for maximum enjoyment.

Timing the Perfect Pick

Harvesting strawberries at the right time is crucial for optimal flavor and sweetness. Here are some signs to look for to determine if your strawberries are ripe:

  • Ripe strawberries will be red all the way around, including down to the tips.

  • The area just below the green top should also be a true red, rather than white or light-colored.

  • The strawberries should also have fresh-looking green tops.

  • They should be moderately firm to the touch, indicating they are neither overripe nor underripe.

When harvesting strawberries, they should be picked by grasping the stem above the berry and then gently twisting and pulling. This method allows the berry to roll into your palm, minimizing bruising and damage.

Remember, strawberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so it’s crucial to harvest them as they reach peak ripeness.

Handling and Storage Hacks

Once you’ve harvested your strawberries, it’s essential to handle and store them properly to maintain their freshness. Harvest strawberries early in the morning or on cool, overcast days to maintain freshness, and never wash or remove caps until ready to use.

For immediate consumption, strawberries can be stored at room temperature for a maximum of two days. For longer freshness, keep them in a refrigerator at 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, in a shallow container covered loosely. Remember to remove any damaged berries before storing to prevent them from spoiling the rest.

For longer-term storage, you can freeze strawberries on a baking sheet lined with wax paper before transferring to an airtight freezer bag.

Companion Planting with Strawberries

The practice of companion planting can boost the growth of your strawberries and keep pests at bay. By choosing plants that complement each other, you can create a healthy and productive garden ecosystem.

Let’s identify the runner plants that make excellent companions for strawberries and those best avoided.

Beneficial Buddies

Certain plants can provide significant benefits when grown along with strawberries. Sage, for instance, can help protect strawberry fruit from animals and birds by masking the sweet scent of ripened strawberries. On the other hand, chives not only prevent pests from infesting strawberry plants but also can provide a flavorful complement when grown nearby.

Other beneficial companions for strawberries include:

  • Basil, which enhances the flavor of strawberries

  • Dill, which attracts hoverflies and other beneficial insects that aid in controlling pests within strawberry patches

  • Onions, which serve as a strong deterrent against garden pests, especially slugs and snails, that can damage strawberry plants.

Avoiding Unfriendly Neighbors

While some plants make excellent companions for strawberries, others should be avoided. Here are some plants that should be avoided as companions for strawberries:

  • Cauliflower

  • Cabbages

  • Broccoli

  • Tomatoes

  • Potatoes

  • Eggplant

  • Red clover

These plants can compete with strawberries for nutrients, impair their growth, bring fungal diseases, and attract aphids and nematodes to strawberry plants, making them unsuitable companions.

It’s also important to avoid planting strawberries near walnut trees, which produce juglone, a compound toxic to strawberries. Fennel should also be avoided as it suppresses strawberry flavor. Lastly, avoid tall plants like sunflowers and corn that cast excessive shade on strawberries and hinder their ability to photosynthesize effectively.


We’ve covered a lot of ground in this comprehensive guide, from choosing the right strawberry variety and preparing your garden to planting, nurturing, and finally harvesting your strawberries. Each step of the process plays a significant role in ensuring a bountiful harvest of delicious, homegrown strawberries.

As with any gardening endeavor, growing strawberries requires patience, care, and a bit of trial and error. But the reward of biting into a sun-warmed, juicy strawberry that you’ve grown yourself is well worth the effort. So why wait? Embark on your strawberry gardening journey today and savor the fruits of your labor!

Frequently Asked Questions

What month is best to plant strawberries?

The most common month to plant strawberries is March, as planting them during this time allows for a harvest a few months later. However, you can check Rooted Reminders to be reminded when the best time to plant strawberries for your specific location is.

Do strawberries bear fruit the first year you plant them?

Yes, strawberries can produce fruit in the first year, but it’s recommended to pinch off any flower buds that appear in the first few weeks for a more reliable perennial crop.

Where is the best place to plant strawberries?

The best place to plant strawberries is in a location with well-drained, deep, sandy soil that is rich in organic matter and receives full sunlight. Avoid areas that remain wet late into the spring.

Can you grow strawberries from a strawberry?

Yes, you can grow strawberry plants from the seeds within a mature strawberry. Just dry the seeds and follow the steps in the article “Easy Tips to Grow Strawberries from Seed.”

How do I choose the right strawberry variety?

Consider the climate and soil conditions of your region to choose the right strawberry variety. June-bearing strawberries are best for northern gardens, while day-neutral and everbearing varieties are suitable for various climates.

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