Strawberries are the quickest plant to bear fruit and the first fruit to ripen in spring. It’s no wonder that this delicious berry is grown in every state in the US and in many countries around the world. With the change of seasons, we’re eager to spruce up the patio with colorful plants. Strawberries are an attractive container planting that yield lovely, pale pink or white apple-blossom like flowers and delicious red berries for you to pick and enjoy. There are also white varieties available that taste similar to pineapple. To grow strawberries you have the option of purchasing seeds, bare-root plants or plugs. Follow the seed company’s directions for planting/growing strawberries from seeds. Bare-root plants should be planted right away. If this isn’t possible, moisten the roots with water and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to pot. Plugs are the easiest to grow as they transfer well to containers.
There are many ornamental yet functional pots, barrels, jars and hanging baskets that are well suited for growing strawberries, and look great on your deck, porch or patio. Strawberry plants have small root balls which extend in every direction, instead of deep into the soil, so large or deep containers aren’t a necessity, but adequate drainage is a must.
To avoid heat damage to plant roots, do not use dark colored containers to grow strawberries outdoors.
A 3” to 4” pot will hold one strawberry plant. An 8” pot or hanging basket can hold three to five strawberry plants.
Terracotta strawberry jars with side pockets are a favorite container gardeners use to attractively grow strawberries on the home patio. These jars/pots are available at local gardening centers.
A stacked strawberry tower is a handsome vertical feature made by stacking three round, decorative plastic pots of graduated sizes and planting strawberries in each tier.
The Alpine strawberry produces a tiny berry that is intensely sweet, making it an ideal variety for container planting. This variety is drought-tolerant and easy to grow. It picks easily when ripe.
Roman is a variety that grows best in containers and hanging baskets, making it a favorite edible, ornamental fruit.
Loran is a compact variety that is ideal for growing in containers.
(Loran is the variety I planted in hanging baskets this spring. I planted 3 in each basket, as shown above in top right photo. The potted strawberry plants at top left is also Loran variety, photo by bonnieplants.com)
There are many, many varieties of strawberries available. For gardening success, select one that performs well in containers and is suited to your growing zone.
General Planting and Care Instructions
Strawberries grow best in a sunny location, with six to eight hours of full sun in a well-drained, loamy potting soil mix, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Potted strawberries can also be grown indoors with adequate sunlight.
Add potting soil to a pot with good drainage. Use a trowel to make a hole, 5” to 7” wide and as deep as the plant and its roots in the potting mix. Set the plant in the hole with the roots straight down. Place the plant in the soil so that the top of the crown is just above ground level. The roots should be completely buried. Water well. Strawberries don’t like soggy soil. Small containers will require more frequent watering than large ones. Water once the soil is dry one inch beneath the surface. Strawberries require 1” to 2” of water per week. Fertilize according to nursery recommendations. Do not fertilize plants after August.
Strawberry plants must be protected from late spring frosts. When freezing temperatures are forecasted, cover the plants with plastic sheeting, or a cardboard box, etc.
How to Construct & Plant a Stacked Strawberry Tower -
Select 3 attractive plastic or resin pots in graduated sizes. Place the largest plastic pot with drainage hole, in desired location. Fill three-quarters full with potting mix and level the soil. Place the next to the largest pot on top, leaving a ring between the first and second pots for planting strawberries. Add potting mix to the second pot to three-quarters full. Top it with the smallest pot and fill as other layers with potting mix. Plant strawberry plugs or root-bare plants as directed above.
Planting a Terra Cotta Strawberry Jar -
Place potting soil mix into a plastic tub, such as a dish-washing pan and add enough water to thoroughly moisten the mix. Add damp potting mix to the jar until you have reached the bottom layer of pockets on the jar. Put a strawberry plug or bare-root plant into the soil, positioning the roots beneath the soil and the crown just above. Continue this process. Once the lower pockets are planted, add more potting soil to the jar and plant the next jar pocket. Continue filling and planting process until all the side pockets have been planted. Add more potting soil to the top of the terracotta jar, leaving two inches of head space. Plant 3 to 4 strawberry plants in the soil at the top.
Whether you choose to plant strawberries in hanging baskets, a stacked vertical tower or in containers it will add colorful and delicious edible ornamental fruit to your outdoor living spaces.
Choosing Hanging Baskets -
If you plant strawberries in coconut coir hanging baskets, be sure to use a liner inside the coir basket or use hanging plastic pots instead. When planted directly in coconut coir, the roots will grow into the coir basket, thus unable to receive moisture from the soil, and tend to dry out and die.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac, and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
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