Growing strawberries in pots has become a common practice to many gardeners due to the advantages attached to it.
First and foremost it’s more convenient since you are able to move your plants around in pots with respect to the direction of the sun, hence more exposure to sunlight and warmth.
Secondly you can avoid cases of soil-borne diseases and slugs dodging in by lifting the plants off the ground.
Moreover, you are able to force an extra- early crop by moving your plants under cover during winter. Another advantage of growing strawberries in pots is that you will only require a small growing space due to their compact nature.
Ideal pots for growing strawberry
Strawberries have a compact and quick-growth habit and have proven to perform well in any type of pot.
However, for the purpose of efficient space utilization stackable strawberry planter is ideal.
Select the best strawberry variety for growing in pots
Strawberries come in three different types from which you can choose which one to grow. These varieties include day neutral, ever bearer and June bearer
- Day-Neutral: Day neutral varieties produce buds, fruits and runners continuously and are insensitive to day length. These varieties produce less than June bearers.
- Ever bearer: • Ever bearer varieties form buds during summer and later on in autumn these buds develops into flowers then fruits. These varieties also form buds during autumn and fruits in the following spring.
- June bearer: • June bearer varieties are day length - sensitive. These varieties produce buds in the autumn and forms flowers and fruits the following spring.
How to prepare the soil/mix before planting strawberries in pots
Strawberries require loose, loamy potting mix that has the ability to hold just enough water for your plants and at the same time be able to drain away any excess.
Alternatively, there are commercial options such as Fruiting & Flowering potting soil specific for strawberries formulated to encourage vigorous fruiting & flowering.
Go with what you're comfortable with.
Growing strawberries in pots step by step
Step #1: Select the appropriate type and size of growing pot. Small containers will need only one to two plants.
Step #2: Check out for the pots’ drainage hole which should be at the bottom of the pot.
Step #3: Fill the pot with well-draining soil or the strawberry potting mix at almost the ¾ mark of the pot.
Step #4: Make planting holes deep and wide enough to accommodate the entire root system. Place the strawberries in the pot ensuring that the crowns are placed slightly above the potting mix. (Approximately 2 cm)
Step #5: Using the remaining potting mix, fill up to few centimetres to the top of the pot.
Step #6: Firm the mix to remove any air pockets then water lightly
Step #7: Conserve moisture by applying a thin layer of mulch.
Strawberry plant care: How to take care of your pot strawberry
Target for higher yields by removing first year blossoms and daughter plants
Remove any blossoms that form during the first year of growth in order for strawberry plants not to fruit. This way, they will spend most of their food reserves on developing healthy roots and high yields during the second year.
First and second generations of strawberries are known to produce higher yields so get rid of daughter plants as required.
Expose your strawberries to as much sunlight as possible
Strawberries require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. So move the pots with the strawberry plants around during different times of the day to maximise the exposure.
Apply mulch to conserve moisture
Strawberry plants are shallow rooted so it’s paramount for you to apply a light mulch up to the plant crown for moisture retention as well as weed suppression.
Strawberry plants need a lot of water/moisture when the runners and flowers are developing and as the plants mature during the fall.
Water your strawberry plants whenever necessary
Keep the potting mix/soil moist by watering whenever it dries out. Carefully lift the plants leaves to apply the water. This way you will keep the moisture off the leaves thus preventing fungal infections.
Be sure to apply lots of water when the plants are developing runners and flowers and when they mature.
Remove the weeds regularly
Carry out regular weed removal by hand, especially in the first months after planting to avoid competition for nutrients and improve air circulation for good crop performance.
Mulching will also help supress weeds thus reducing the number of times you carryout weeding.
Apply an appropriate fertilizer
Feed your plants regularly (every three to four weeks) with a high-potash liquid feed as soon as the first flowers appear. Your container strawberry plants benefit a lot from some supplemental feeding.
Renew your strawberries by removing any extra foliage after fruiting
Cut back any over foliage leaving only the central young leaves intact. Remove the runners as well unless you want to propagate new plants for bulking out again before winter.
Replace your strawberry plants every three years or grow them as annuals
Even with the best care, Strawberries are short-lived perennials that need to be replaced every three years.
Keep your strawberry plants productive for longer period by pinching the flowers.
Alternatively, you can grow them as annuals and leave the plants to flower and fruit as much as they can and replace them with new plants the next season.
Give attention to your strawberry plants after harvest by providing the required nutrients
Your plants need lots of nutrients in order to maximize perennation (bud formation) that will be harvested as strawberries in the next spring so apply an appropriate fertilizer (10-10-10 conventional, or an equivalent organic fertilizer) in August.
Watch out for pest and diseases
Look out for signs of pest and control them as soon as practicable. Some of the common pest and diseases include; Grey Mold
Powdery Mildew, Japanese Beetles, Spider Mites, and Slugs
Strawberry fruits are ready for harvesting at 4–6 weeks after blossoming. Harvest by picking only fully red (ripe) berries. Repeat the process every three days.
Tip: Do not pull the berry; cut by the stem.
Harvest will last up to 3 weeks. You should have an abundance of berries, depending on the variety.
Carefully store unwashed berries in the refrigerator for a maximum of 5 days.
Strawberries can be frozen for about 2 months.
You’ve just read through the steps of growing strawberries in pots. It is important that you remember these tips that seem so simple yet very important to know.
- Any type of Container is good for growing strawberries provided it has good drainage.
- You can start strawberries from either seedlings or bare-root crowns.
- You can use soil or organic potting mix for growing your strawberries.
- Always use disease-resistant strawberry plants.
Featured image credit: GAP Photos/Graham Strong