Fertilizing Strawberries for Higher Yields and Healthy Plants

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To grow strawberries successfully, knowing how to fertilize them correctly is essential. Whether you are planting them in the ground, containers, or garden beds, using fertilizers can significantly increase your yield. This article offers easy-to-follow and practical tips on fertilizing strawberries, covering everything from the basics for beginners to advanced techniques for experienced gardeners.

By the end of this article, you will know how to grow a bumper crop of sweet, juicy strawberries that you can enjoy straight from the vine.

A bumper crop of fresh ripe red strawberries.  A healthy robust harvest from proper care including bi weekly fertilizing.
Table of Contents

    Key Points For Fertilizing Strawberries

    1. Soil Testing Before Fertilization: Test soil for pH and nutrients; adjust with lime or sulfur to balance the pH; and supplement with fertilizers for nutrients missing in the soil.
    2. Choosing the Right Fertilizer: Use organic (like compost) or specialized strawberry formulas.
    3. Fertilization Techniques and Timing: Follow fertilization schedules for pots, garden beds, and day-neutral strawberries; avoid overfeeding.
    4. Advanced Fertilization Techniques: Employ fertigation for efficient delivery and foliar feeding for quick uptake.
    5. Post-Harvest Fertilizing: Apply balanced fertilizer post-harvest to keep the soil healthy.
    A basket of well tended strawberries from a garden bed.  The image is intended to show what kind of crop you can expect if you ensure your strawberry plants have adequate fertilization.

    Understanding Strawberry Fertilization

    Soil testing is crucial before fertilizing strawberries. It helps determine the pH level and nutrient content. If the soil is too acidic, adding a bit of lime can help balance it for optimal growth. On the other hand, sulfur may be needed to lower the pH if it’s alkaline.

    Before planting strawberries, conducting a soil test can provide valuable insights into their composition and fertility levels. This information guides gardeners in making informed decisions about which nutrients are lacking or abundant in the soil.

    You can buy soil testing kits at any garden center or send your soil in to be tested. Reach out to your local agricultural extension for direction.

    A test for soil pH sitting in a soil sample in a beaker.

    Choosing the Right Strawberry Fertilizer

    Organic Options – Best Option

    There are several options available. One popular choice is compost, which enriches the soil with needed nutrients and improves its structure. Another organic option is fish emulsion, a natural fertilizer that provides a quick source of nutrients for strawberry plants.

    Organic fertilizers offer the benefit of being environmentally friendly and safe for plants and animals. They also improve soil health over time by promoting microbial activity and enhancing nutrient availability.

    Personal note – we only use organic fertilizer solutions in our gardens to help maintain our soil year after year.

    Synthetic Solutions – Try to Avoid

    Synthetic fertilizers provide an immediate supply of nutrients to strawberry plants in a form that can be readily absorbed. These products often contain specific ratios of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium tailored to the needs of strawberries at different growth stages.

    While synthetic fertilizers deliver fast results, they can have drawbacks, such as leaching into water sources if not applied properly. Their long-term use may lead to soil degradation due to reduced microbial activity and organic matter content.

    Specialized Formulas – Work

    In addition to general-purpose organic or synthetic options, specialized formulas are designed specifically for strawberries. These blends are formulated with precise nutrient ratios suitable for the unique requirements of these fruit-bearing plants.

    Specialized formulas cater directly to strawberries’ nutritional needs throughout their growth cycle, from establishing roots in early spring through fruit development in summer. These targeted products can optimize plant health and maximize yields while minimizing potential nutrient deficiencies.

    We Tested and Love Epsoma Berry-Tone

    We make and use our own compost, but when we can’t keep up with compost, we turn to organic fertilizers, and our favorite for our strawberry beds (200 plants and counting) is Epsoma Organic Berry- Tone. It works!

    Fertilizing Strawberries in Pots

    When fertilizing strawberries in pots, select a balanced fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of around 10-10-10 or 8-8-8. Apply the fertilizer according to the instructions during the growing season—usually every two weeks until late summer.

    Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive green foliage growth at the expense of fruit production.

    Use effective organic fertilizers such as compost tea or fish emulsion for potted strawberries. These organic options provide nutrients gradually without risking chemical burns due to overapplication.

    strawberries growing in a container with mulch.
    Grow Bumper Crops of Strawberries In Containers

    Even if you don’t have the space in your backyard for a strawberry patch, you can still grow bucketfuls of strawberries in baskets and pots. Check out our article for all the best practices and our tried and tested tips.

    Fertilizing Strawberries in Garden Beds

    Mixing in some compost or well-rotted manure is recommended to prepare the soil for growing strawberries. This will help to improve the soil’s fertility and provide the necessary nutrients for the plants to grow.

    It is also important to ensure the soil’s pH is between 5.5 and 6.5, as strawberries prefer slightly acidic conditions. You can easily test the soil’s pH level using a simple kit test that can be purchased from your local garden center.

    Adding organic matter like compost enriches the soil and helps retain moisture – an essential factor for strawberry growth. Incorporating these simple practices into your gardening routine will build a strong foundation for healthy strawberry plants.

    When fertilizing strawberries in garden beds, it’s essential to distribute fertilizer evenly around each plant. Use a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or a similar formulation specifically designed for fruit-bearing plants.

    Spread the fertilizer evenly around each plant while being careful not to let it touch the leaves or crown directly, as this may cause damage. Water thoroughly after applying fertilizer to help it reach the roots effectively.

    In my experience, dividing the total amount of fertilizer needed into smaller applications throughout the growing season works best for my strawberry plants’ overall health and productivity.

    Strawberry harvest from garden beds that were adequately fertilized.  The strawberries are evenly ripe, plump and abundant.

    Timing for June-Bearing Strawberries

    It is essential to incorporate organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure and conduct a soil test to determine if any nutrients are low or lacking before planting strawberries.

    It’s also important to ensure the soil’s pH is between 5.5 and 6.5, as strawberries thrive in slightly acidic conditions. Adding sulfur can lower the pH if it’s too high while adding lime can raise it if it’s too low.

    When preparing the area for planting, make sure to space out the plants properly to allow for good air circulation and prevent overcrowding. Proper spacing will also aid in easier fertilization and watering once the plants are established.

    Fertilizing Strawberries During Vegetative Growth

    During the vegetative growth stage of plants, which occurs after planting and before flowering, applying a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or similar is beneficial. Fertilizing during this stage provides essential nutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) that promote strong roots and overall plant growth.

    When fertilizing strawberries during this stage, it’s important to do it sparingly but regularly to avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of fruit production.

    To retain moisture and reduce weed competition, a layer of mulch should be added around each plant. The mulch will slowly decompose and release nutrients into the soil.

    I’ve found that using a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks during vegetative growth has yielded excellent results with robust plant development.

    Fertilizing Strawberries Post-Harvest

    After harvesting strawberries, they require proper care to ensure their health for future seasons. Applying a balanced fertilizer again promotes strong root development post-harvest.

    Pruning old leaves after harvest allows new leaves to thrive—these fresh leaves play a critical role in photosynthesis and energy storage for next year’s crop.

    Fertilizing Day-Neutral Strawberries

    Fertilizing strawberries is crucial for their growth and fruit production. Continuous fertilization is essential for day-neutral strawberries to ensure they receive the nutrients they need throughout the growing season.

    Day-neutral strawberries are unique because they produce fruits continuously from spring until fall. This extended fruiting period demands a consistent supply of nutrients, making continuous fertilization vital for their health and productivity.

    To achieve successful continuous fertilization, fertilize your day-neutral strawberries with a balanced fertilizer every three to four weeks during the growing season. A balanced fertilizer contains equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K), such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. 

    Regularly feeding your day-neutral strawberry plants is essential to support their steady growth and fruit production throughout the growing season. By providing them with a consistent supply of nutrients through continuous fertilization, you can help maintain healthy plants that yield an abundance of delicious berries.

    Fresh ripe strawberries in a wooden bowl on a table.

    Fertilizing Strawberries – Advanced Techniques for Strawberry Growth


    Fertigation is a method used in agriculture and gardening that combines irrigation with fertilizers. This technique involves delivering water and soluble fertilizers to plants through irrigation.

    Fertilizing strawberries through fertigation is an efficient way to provide essential nutrients to the plants. This method involves mixing fertilizer with irrigation water and applying it directly to the root zone. By doing so, the plants can absorb the nutrients more effectively, leading to healthier growth and better fruit production.

    One of the key benefits of using fertigation for strawberry growth is that it allows for precise control over nutrient application. Growers can customize the fertilizer blend to suit their plants’ specific needs during various stages of growth.

    Fertigation helps prevent the wastage of fertilizers since it delivers nutrients directly to where they are needed.

    Foliar Feeding

    Another effective technique for fertilizing strawberries is foliar feeding, which involves spraying a liquid fertilizer directly onto the leaves of the plants. This method allows for quick absorption of nutrients by bypassing potential soil nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.

    Foliar feeding can be particularly beneficial during critical growth stages or periods when there may be limitations in nutrient uptake from the soil due to environmental factors such as excessive rainfall or drought conditions.

    However, it’s important not to rely solely on foliar feeding as a primary source of nutrients for strawberry plants but instead use it as a supplement alongside regular soil-based fertilization practices.

    Personal note: I foliar feed our entire garden during the growing season, and the results are remarkable. If you haven’t tried foliar feeding on a schedule, I encourage you to try it for at least one season and review the results yourself.

    An example of the type of tool you can use to foliar feed fertilizer to your strawberry crops.

    Bumper Crop Strawberries

    Fertilizing strawberries is a crucial aspect of their care to ensure healthy growth and bountiful harvests. Understanding the specific needs of strawberries, choosing the right fertilizer, and applying appropriate techniques for different growing conditions are essential for success.

    By maintaining soil health and following timing guidelines, one can optimize the growth of both June-bearing and day-neutral varieties. Advanced techniques can further enhance the overall yield and quality of strawberries.

    The plumpest, ripest, reddest, strawberries freshly picked from a garden bed.

    Are Fertilization Schedules and Types of Fertilizers Confusing?

    We may have a few articles to help you out. Check out these articles to help you get on track:

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