how to grow strawberries in containers?

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Introduction on how to grow strawberries in containers

how to grow strawberries in containersTasting homegrown strawberries will have serious consequences for you. You’ll never get the same taste again from shop-bought strawberries.

Strawberries are wonderful, little and really sturdy plants. You only have to buy one plant. And you will be able to keep on growing strawberries for years to come.

The plants are happy with a small spot in the sunlight and will send out runners so you can start new plants year after year.

why buying expensive strawberries in the shop if you can delicious fruits at home.

Start growing your own strawberries. Discover the taste of sun-ripened fresh fruits, picked from the garden.

what are strawberries?

General

how to grow strawberriesA strawberry is not a berry. A strawberry is an aggregate fruit. The fruit is made from a flower that has a lot of ovaries. All the ovaries in one flower will make one strawberry.

Other complex fruits are blackberries and raspberries.

Real “berries” are known as simple fruits. They grow from only one ovary, just like a grape.

The Latin name for strawberry is Fragaria × ananassa.

The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany in the 1750s. The plant is a cross between different wild plants that were already used in the Roman times.

varieties

ever-bearing strawberry plant

grow strawberries in containersThe perpetual strawberry or ever-bearing strawberry is the most popular of the strawberries. It just keeps on growing for about 4 to 5 years. You also get runners through the year so you are never without plants.

The plants will give you a good amount of fruits all year long. For colder climates, it’s best to put the containers inside as already mentioned.

The June bearing variety

This variety will give you one crop. If you take good care of the plants this crop can be huge. The plant is mostly bought by people who like to cook or freeze their strawberries.

As the name suggests, the fruits will be available late spring or early summer.

Day-neutral strawberries

These plants are almost the same as ever-bearing strawberries. They will produce smaller numbers of strawberries though.

where to grow strawberries?

strawberries in containersThe strawberry plant loves much sun. So you should always look to give them as much sun as possible.

They are also happy to give you new strawberry plants. So, make sure you give them enough space so they can throw out runners whenever and wherever they want.

Once the runners are rooted, you can easily transplant them.

Strawberries like a fluffy rich and fertilized soil. Amending well-composted wood chips and rich compost will help your plants grow nice, big strawberries.

The plants can be grown in a strictly managed system and bear a lot of strawberries. But it’s also possible to use them as a ground cover and get fewer strawberries. The second system is easy to maintain. It’s a beautiful bed that would do well in an ornamental garden. But most of all, it’s really easy to maintain.

When to grow strawberries?

grow strawberriesDepending on the zone you live in, there will be a difference in timing to plant the strawberries.

When you live in zone 6 or lower, you should plant your plants in spring. That way the plants will have a chance to root before the following winter. it’s possible to grow in containers in colder climates. Just keep the pots protected in the coldest period of the year. Because the soil in a container can freeze and kill the roots.

From zone 7 and up, it’s possible to start the plants in the fall.

In higher zones, strawberries are even grown as cool weather plants as they can have trouble going through the warmer months.


taking care of strawberries.

general

strawberriesAs already mentioned above, strawberries are easy to maintain. Just give them a healthy, soft soil with enough nutrients.  This will make sure you get some strawberries as a reward from every plant.

The plants do well in a slightly acidic soil of about 5.5 to 6.5 PH-value.

Plants in pots will send out runners that will be hanging next to the pot. By putting the runners in small pots, they will be able to root.

Don’t cut the runner from the mother plant until it has firmly rooted. So leave the small pots around the mother plant until you see the new plants grow.

I use pots with a diameter of about 20 centimeters or 8 inches to grow the mature plants.  The depth isn’t all that important when growing strawberries.

growing from a plant

The easiest way to grow strawberries is from a mother plant. You can buy a plant in a garden center and wait for the runners to pop up. From one plant, you can fill your whole garden in a couple of years.

growing strawberries from seed

growing strawberries from seedGrowing from seed is a bit more experimental. And there are some things to consider when growing strawberries from seed.

First of all, seeds need stratification. This means that we have to freeze the seeds or put them in the fridge for a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

After the freezing period, it’s time to sow the seeds.  I will start a new batch of seeds next spring and make a video about it. For now, you’ll have to do with this article.

I start my seeds in a big flat container as the plants are shallow rooted. Once the seedlings are big enough, I transplant them in their final pot. The sowing method is the same as when I grow my lettuce plants.

Once the seeds are sown, it’s a waiting game. Don’t be disappointed if you lose a lot of seeds. The germination process can be quite difficult. Just keep in mind, you only need one plant to start with.

transplanting strawberries or planting strawberries

growing strawberriesGrowing in pots is really easy when maintaining the plants and taking care of the plants. There is one drawback though. You have to transplant the plants almost yearly. That way, you’re sure you’ll have a good harvest, year after year.

When transplanting the strawberry plants, there is one thing you really have to look for. The top of the crown should be level with the soil surface. Planting too deep can make the crown and plant rot. And planting too high above the soil level will make the plant dry out too fast and wilt.

Make sure the soil is always firm around the plant. Make sure there are no air pockets. You can check this by watering well after transplanting. If the soil sinks too deep after watering, fill it up.

harvesting strawberries

Once you get fruits turning red, you’ll have to check the ripe fruits every day or so.

Wait until the berry is totally red, white or yellow, depending on the ripe color. White spots on the berries are a sign they are not ripe yet.

Also, remove the berries that are overripe or rotten to avoid pests and diseases.

You can just harvest the strawberries with their green crown. Just be gentle as you can squish the strawberries which will shorten the time you can store them.

Strawberries don’t store very long, even if you treat them right. Make sure you freeze, dry or use them in time.

diseases and pests

birds

Although birds are no bugs, they can be a real pest when you grow red strawberries. Birds are attracted to the color red and will devour all of your fruits if you don’t use bird netting.

slugs

where to grow strawberriesMulch and slugs go hand in hand.  Slugs love to hang around in the moist covered soil.  So what’s good for the plant isn’t always good for the plant.

There are some ways to get rid of slugs. One of the systems is the very well known slug beer trap. Beer attracts the slugs and they die in it while drinking.

You could, of course, remove all the mulch and debris around the plants but that goes against organic gardening so the beer trap is a better way.

There are some organic slug pellets on the market and I personally use them. But I really only use them if I have a huge slug problem. I must say, I don’t know if these pellets are all that healthy to other organisms so I try to avoid them as long as I can.

The Strawberry blossom weevil Anthonomus Rubi

This weevil is evil. The male and the female adults both feed on the leaves. The female also lays eggs in the unopened flower and cuts of the stalk. The larvae then feed on the decaying matter.

When you see signs of weevils, immediately start with insecticidal soap. It’s possible you’ll need several applications.

Cyclamen mite or Phytonemus Pallidus SPP. Fragaria

harvesting strawberries
By James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1671891

this mite mostly infests plants in greenhouses. They are really small and they hide in the folds of new leaves, in the heart of the plant.

The young leaves will start to shrivel and the tips of the leaves will become a kind of blueish green. Eventually, the center of the plant will turn brown and all the leaves will be infected and have a yellowish color.

Infected plants will form short flower stalks with stunted flowers. In the end, already emerged fruits will start to deform as well.

For people interested, there is a predator mite you can buy to treat this problem. It’s called the Amblyseius cucumeris.

Although I have never had this problem, I think that a good insecticidal soap with some neem oil might do the trick as well after a couple of treatments.

Blight

Blight is caused by a fungus named Botrytis. People also use the common name, gray mold. First symptoms are the brown to black spots on the leaves. If not treated, all the leaves will get covered with a white to gray fuzzy mold on the leaves.  This disease will eventually kill off the plants. The fruits will be infected and will rot as well.

Southern Ag Garden Friendly Biological Fungicide is said to be helpful against blight although I personally never have used it.

 Powdery mildew or Sphaerotheca macularis

disease

transplanting strawberries
By Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15692110

The first signs of infection are the curling up of the leaves. The leaves will curl up in an irregular fashion.

The underside of the leaves will show white fuzzy stuff sticking to the leaf. Eventually, you will start to see reddish colored spots on the leaves.

The strawberries themselves can be infected as well. They will turn grey and white and will be inedible and soft.

The disease will spread rapidly when temperatures are between 15°C and 27°C or 59°F and 80°F. Don’t be fooled by this disease, it spreads better in dry conditions than in wet conditions. Keeping the leaves moist can help prevent the spreading of the disease.

Try to grow partial resistant plants whenever possible.

treatments

Milk can be a good product to fight the disease although resistance can grow over time. So, it’s better to use several methods with each one-week interval when the disease occurs.

Garlic is another natural remedy that you can use to change between systems.

Next to garlic and milk, you can also use a treatment with baking soda. So, now we already have 3 remedies we can use with a one-week interval.

A copper fungicide is another great way to stop powdery mildew from spreading.

All you have to do now is combine these different methods and you will be going through the summer without powdery mildew harassing your plants.

Closing

I haven’t mentioned all the diseases yet. If I come into contact with another disease, I’ll make sure to take pictures of it and amend the article.

 

So this is it for this article on how to grow strawberries in containers. I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share on social media, with friends, and other gardeners.

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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.

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