There’s nothing quite like biting into a fresh strawberry straight from the garden. Learn how to grow strawberries in pots so you can enjoy plump, ripe strawberries this year.
Anyone who has tried growing strawberries in the ground knows that they tend to spread out and take over an area when given free rein. However, strawberry plants grow very well in containers, making them perfect for enjoying juicy summer fruit in almost any yard.
BENEFITS OF GROWING STRAWBERRIES IN PLANTERS
In addition to being ideal for small gardens, here are some more benefits to growing your own strawberries in containers:
- You can easily move them to a different location, if needed, without transplanting them.
- Containers provide good air circulation around their leaves which prevents fungal and bacterial diseases.
- Easier to protect plants and fruits from slugs and other pests.
- Having containers close by makes it easy to keep an eye on ripening berries so you pick them at peak ripeness.
Best Varieties Of Strawberries To Grow In Pots
While any variety of strawberry plants can grow in a container and bear fruit, some varieties will produce fruit more prolifically than others. And you take to consider that different types of strawberries produce fruit at different points in the season. The great thing about strawberries is they are perennial and will continue to send out shoots year after year.
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Here are some REAL types of strawberries to consider for your container garden:
June Bearing types
These June-bearing types of strawberry plants produce a lot of large, sweet fruit in late spring or early summer and then spend the rest of the season growing runners. These varieties are easy to grow and popular among gardeners for their prolific harvest of berries. If you want to extend the harvest season of these types of strawberries, plant a mix of early-bearers, mid-season bearers, and late-season bearers. Try growing ‘Cabot’, ‘Jewel’, or ‘Tillamook’ varieties. These are easily found at your local garden centre in early spring.
These are the best type of berries if you want all your berries ripe at the same time for products like jam.
These varieties don’t provide harvests as large, however, they will provide a good amount of berries both in the late spring, late summer and sometimes early fall.
‘Tristar’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Ozark Beauty’, and ‘Seascape’ are good container varieties and will even produce some berries in their first year.
Note: these plants seem to be a little less winter hardy than other types of strawberry plants, so make sure to protect them through the cold months.
I am in zone 3a (Canada) -45F and I have success growing my ever-bearing strawberries in large hanging baskets lined with coconut husks. In the winter I take the basket down, wrap it in bubble wrap and burlap and place it in my unheated shed. They do incredibly well over winter, and every spring I only need to divide and add fresh compost.
These varieties have flowers and fruits that are smaller than regular strawberries. Alpine strawberries grow in pots very well and produce intensely flavoured fruit. Try ‘Mignonette’, ‘Alexandria’, or ‘Improved Ruegen’ varieties.
STRAWBERRY CONTAINER CONSIDERATIONS
The right kind of strawberry pot has a large impact on the health (and yield) of your strawberry plants. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right pot for your container strawberries. Don’t forget to use high-quality potting soil mixed with compost in your chosen container!
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THE RIGHT KIND OF STRAWBERRY PLANTER
Terracotta pots are my go-to choice due to their beautiful appearance and the eco-friendly material the planters are made from. The downside is that the pots are porous so anything planted in terracotta tends to dry out much faster. One way to combat this challenge is to spray the pot with a waterproofing agent to help it retain moisture.
You can find lovely terracotta strawberry jars and strawberry towers specially made for your garden. These pots have small protruding pockets to plant individual plants.
However, if you live in a dry climate you will need strawberry planters that hold moisture a little longer. I recommend using plastic pots (or at least a plastic pot that you put inside a terracotta pot!). All things considered, your best bet will be to use light-coloured, synthetic pots to keep the roots cooler and retain moisture.
You can also plant your strawberries in a hanging basket. Hanging baskets look absolutely lovely in the summer in full bloom with bright red berries. Window boxes work exceptionally well too and add cottage-style charm to your garden.
Once you’ve chosen your desired pot material, look for a container that has good drainage holes. Poor drainage is a leading cause of root rot and fungal disease. Excess moisture near the soil surface can also affect the fruit, leading to berries rotting before you can even harvest them.
You may also want to add a few large pieces of broken crockery to the bottom of the pot to help increase drainage.
Looking for a pot perfect for a small space or that’s eye-catching? Depending on where you want to put your strawberries, there are tons of options available! You could go with fabric bags, baskets, ceramic pots, hanging planters, or even stackable planters and window boxes!
HOW TO GROW STRAWBERRIES IN POTS: PLANTING AND CARE TIPS
Strawberry plants are very easy to grow and maintain, but if you’re a beginner gardener, all the information available may seem daunting. Here’s a simple breakdown of everything you need to know in order to plant and maintain your strawberry plants.
Planting Strawberries in Pots
Strawberry plants are small with shallow root systems but they need room to grow, so make sure not to overcrowd them by planting too many new strawberry plants in the same pot. When strawberry plants aren’t given enough room to breathe, they may look lush and healthy, but they won’t produce as much fruit.
For example, a 12-14” container can reasonably hold 2-3 strawberry plants. For smaller planters or stackable containers, plant only one strawberry plant in each space.
Make sure to fully cover the roots but allow the crowns of each plant (the stem where the foliage emerges) to stay above the soil surface.
You will also want to use a good potting mix specifically for fruiting plants. A good choice for soil is Promix Vegetable and Herb soil mix. Don’t use regular garden soil for your potted strawberries. Planting strawberries in garden soil instead of potting mix will result in poorly draining soil, which can lead to bacterial and fungal diseases.
Ideally, you can plant your strawberry plants in a spot that gets 6+ hours of sun a day. It’s a good idea to ensure your strawberry plants have full sun. However, never fear! If your chosen spot gets some shade on the really hot days, your strawberries will still do well!
Regular watering is essential for potted strawberry plants since they tend to dry out faster than plants growing in the ground do. At the same time, don’t overwater! The key is to avoid both extremes. So just how much water does that translate into?
The exact amount or frequency of watering will vary depending on your climate and weather, but here’s a quick way to tell if your plants need water. Stick your finger about an inch down into the soil to check the dampness. If it’s moist, don’t water. If the soil is dry, go ahead and give your plants a good drink.
Since strawberry plants have shallow roots, give them less water, but do it more frequently. Make a habit of watering your plants in the morning or late in the afternoon by watering directly under the leaves to avoid standing water on the leaves.
FERTILIZING STRAWBERRY PLANTS
You have a couple of options for fertilizing. When planting your plants, you can include a slow-release organic fertilizer. Or if you have established plants, you use a liquid fertilizer that’s high in potassium every 2 weeks during the growing season to boost fruit production.
PROTECT FROM PESTS AND DISEASE
While growing strawberries in pots reduce the risk of pests and diseases, those things can still plague your plants. Birds, in particular, can be a nuisance. If you find yourself facing that challenge, simply drape netting over your containers to offer some protection. I try to avoid bird netting because I don’t want birds getting caught in my nets, so I use netting with very small holes.
Be sure to pick ripe berries as soon as possible. Leaving rotten berries on plants is an invite for pests and fungal diseases you do not want.
Keep Berries Away From Soil
One advantage to growing strawberries in containers is that it makes it easier to keep the berries up of the soil. If the fruit is in direct contact with the soil it will invite disease and pests, but potted strawberries can be draped over the edge of the container, away from the soil.
If you do have a few berries that can’t be draped out, you can rest them on something to keep them up off the soil surface, like a shard from a broken pot, or even just a small flat stone.
GET RID OF RUNNERS
Learning how to grow strawberries in pots differs from growing them in the ground with regards to how to treat runners. When you have strawberry plants in the ground, you likely have space for them to spread and don’t mind a few runners.
However, strawberries growing in pots don’t really have the space to spread without overcrowding the plants. For that reason, when you recognize the plants putting out runners, go ahead and snip them off so that the plant can devote its energy toward producing fruit or getting bigger rather than starting new baby plants.
PREPARE FOR WINTER
Some gardeners choose to grow strawberries as annuals to cut down on winter preparation and care. Depending on your time and dedication, this strategy works well and gives you a fresh start each growing season.
Other gardeners, on the other hand, prefer to prepare their potted plants for the winter so that they grow for multiple seasons. A large benefit to this strategy is that they produce even more fruit after the first year.
For gardeners who want to grow their plants for multiple seasons, snip off the runners once the plant stops fruiting. This will help the plant put its energy into growing rather than producing additional plants.
When preparing your plants in climates where the winters are mild, your strawberry plants may only need a little extra mulch to protect them from the cold. However, if you live in a colder environment, strawberries that are grown in pots won’t overwinter that way.
For cold weather climates, have a few different options to protect them:
- Transplant the plants to a garden bed and protect them with mulch.
- Bury the pots in the ground.
- Move the pots to a protected location such as a basement or unheated garage.
Make sure to check the soil every few weeks and water if necessary.
Learning how to grow strawberries in pots or in the ground is relatively easy. With a little loving care, you can easily grow strawberries in containers and enjoy a bumper crop of fresh, ripe, juicy berries this season.
Editorial Note: This post was originally published on March 28, 2021, and was updated on Jan 10, 2023.
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