Growing fruit and vegetables is a great way to enjoy fresh, organic produce. One of the easiest fruits to grow is the strawberry plant. If space is at a premium, planting strawberries in pots is a great idea.
Growing fruit in a pot is a great way to increase productivity and yield.
Why You Should Try Growing Strawberries in Pots
There are many different reasons why planting strawberries in pots is a good idea. If your soil is poor or unsuitable, or you don’t want to have to regularly maintain the plants to prevent them from spreading around the garden, growing in containers is ideal
Planting strawberries in pots or hanging baskets is also a good way to make the most of a small space. This is a great way to cultivate plants on a patio or as part of a balcony garden.
Planting strawberries in pots and baskets also provides you with an easy way to harvest the fresh fruit. Ideal for container gardens, many strawberry plants are compact specimens that are ideal for filling small spaces such as planters and baskets.
Finally, planting strawberries in pots is also a good way to protect the plants against slugs and other pests. Interestingly, when growing in containers, these summer fruiting plants are less prone to fungal and bacterial disease.
Now that you know all the benefits, why not try planting strawberries in pots yourself? Here is everything that you need to know.
Best Types of Strawberry Plant
Almost every type of strawberry grows and bears fruit if planted in a container. However, certain varieties are more suitable than others. Selecting a suitable variety cuts down on maintenance time. Specimens more suited to the growing conditions are also more productive.
While some strawberry plants fruit once a year for just a few weeks, others yield over a period of months providing you with a steady supply of fresh fruit. There are 4 main types of strawberry plant, these are:
- June strawberry plants
- Day neutral plants
- Everbearing plants
June strawberry plants produce generous amounts of large, sweet berries. You can harvest these plants for several weeks during early summer. Popular amongst home gardeners, there are many different, reliable types of June strawberry plant.
Best planted in mid season, you can also cultivate late season June bearing types alongside the plants to further extend your harvest.
While they are popular and reliable, I would advise against planting June strawberries in pots. Not only do many of the different varieties take a year to mature, meaning you won’t get fruit until the second year, they only produce one flush of fruit. Additionally these plants have a vigorous growth habit. This means that without regular pruning their shoots can become tangled in their containers.
Day Neutral types yield a modest harvest from late spring to fall. The fruit is smaller than Jue and Everbearing types but just as flavorsome. Some of the most reliable Day Neutral varieties that are ideal for growing as strawberries in pots include:
- Mara des Bois.
Growing the right variety of strawberry plant in containers provides you with a fresh supply of fruit throughout the summer months.
Planting Day Neutral strawberries in pots allows you to pick ripe berries throughout the summer months.
Everbearing types of strawberry fruit continuously, producing several medium sized harvests over the course of the season. Less hardy than June and Day Neutral types, Everbearing cultivars require some protection from winter frosts. This can be provided by cutting back the plants and covering with a mulch of straw or shredded leaves
Ruby Ann is a popular everbearing cultivar, popular for its sweet fruit. Qiunalt and Ogallala are both good for growing in compact or small spaces.
Day Neutral and Everbearing types fruit regardless of day length. These are heavy yielding varieties that fruit and flower reliably. This means that both types are good choices for planting strawberries in pots,
Alpine types are another good choice for planting strawberries in pots. Displaying a dense, compact growth habit, these pint sized plants are ideal for growing in small spaces.
Despite their small size, Alpines are packed with flavor. The fruit is increasingly popular for its unusual, pineapple-strawberry flavor. The flowers are also fragrant.
A descendant of the wild strawberry plant (Fragaria spp.), Alpines thrive in partial shade. This makes them a good choice if your garden or growing space has limited sun exposure.
Some of the best varieties for planting strawberries in pots include:
- Yellow Wonder, which bears attractive yellow fruit,
- Rugen Improved.
Ideal for cultivating in both containers and hanging baskets, Alpine strawberry plants reliably fruit from spring until fall. For more information about growing Alpine Strawberry plants, check out our guide.
While Alpines can be used, Everbearing or Day Neutral types are often preferred by people planting strawberries in pots. This is because they afford the grower an extended harvest period.
Everbearing types are the most reliable type for cultivation in containers. Typically compact, these cultivars produce few runners and 2 to 3 consistent yields during the summer and early fall months.
When planting strawberries in pots, compact varieties are better than more sprawling plants. Reaching a height of 8 inches and rarely spreading more than 6 to 12 inches, compact types require less pruning and are easy to control. Some of the best compact types include:
- Fort Laramie,
- Yellow Wonder,
- Ozark Beauty.
Some varieties of strawberry plant are more suitable than others.
What Type of Pot to Use
Your choice of container impacts on the health of the plant. It also affects how much maintenance, such as watering, that you need to do.
If you are planting in a pot, make sure that it has at least one drainage hole in the bottom. This enables excess moisture to escape, preventing the soil from becoming saturated and the plant from developing root rot.
Planting strawberries in pots that are made from porous materials such as terracotta is discouraged. While they can survive planting in these materials, during the warmer months the soil is prone to drying out very quickly. Consequently you may need to water your plants more frequently. Harvesting rainwater is a good way to cut down on the amount of water that you use.
While plastic containers are better for retaining moisture, they do not look as attractive as terracotta planters. One idea is to plant your strawberry plants in a plastic pot and then place them inside a slightly larger terracotta pot.
Plastic troughs and planters are ideal for growing strawberry plants.
If space is at a premium, try planting your strawberry plants in Stackable Strawberry Planters. These make the most of your growing space whilst also allowing the plants lots of room to spread and develop.
Fabric bags or even hanging baskets can also be used. Betereap Strawberry Grow Bags are durable, reusable fabric bags that enable you to grow strawberry plants in a range of conditions.
When it comes to pot size, try to choose one that comfortably holds at least one mature plant. If you are unsure how large this is, in general a 3 liter pot comfortably holds one plant.
When planting strawberries in pots remember that these are shallow rooted plants. When growing in containers the roots typically grow to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. The deeper the root is able to develop the more anchoring and greater resilience to drought or nutrient stress it provides. Pick a pot or planter that is at least 6 to 8 inches deep. Ideally your chosen container should be around 12 inches deep.
If you are planting strawberries in pots for a vertical garden, the rules outlined below still apply. You can also grow strawberry plants in window boxes.
Where to Grow
Whatever you choose to grow your strawberry plants in, make sure they are sitting in a light position. Growing strawberry plants like to receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. A sunny deck or patio is ideal. This enables the plant to get lots of light and also makes harvesting easy.
If you are planting strawberry plants in hanging baskets, hang the plants in a light location which is not too exposed. Placing the plants in too windy a spot can discourage flowering and fruit production.
Place your plants in a light, sunny spot.
Planting strawberries in pots is a largely problem-free process. One of the most important aspects to consider is drainage. As well as ensuring that your chosen pot has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom, you should also use a well draining potting mix. Remember, strawberry plants dislike sitting in wet or soggy soil.
You can combine your potting soil with a range of materials to further improve drainage. Suitable materials include:
- Peat moss,
- Shredded bark,
- Coco coir,
Work your chosen material well into the potting soil before planting.
Before planting strawberries in pots use a soil test kit to check the pH level. The soil pH should be slightly acidic, between 5.5 and 6.5 or 7.0 is ideal.
How to Plant
Most plant nurseries and garden stores sell bare root plants or young plants potted in 4 inch containers in the spring. If you want a certain variety of strawberry plant you may need to order it from an online plant nursery. The plants will be delivered when they are ready for planting.
Many garden stores also sell strawberry plants in hanging baskets. These are ready plants, all you need to do is water regularly and fertilize every few weeks with an appropriate liquid organic food to encourage fruit production.
Strawberry plants growing in pots are ideal for containers and baskets such as CAYAMIDE Hanging Strawberry Pots. These are already growing and have a head start over bare root plants.
After purchase, remember to harden off the plants before planting strawberries in pots.
While young plants growing in pots can be hardened off, once the last frost has passed, and planted out, bare root runners are best planted in late spring or early summer.
When you are ready to plant, fill your chosen container with well draining potting soil. A 50-50 blend of potting mix and compost is both rich in nutrients and well draining. This makes it ideal for growing strawberry plants.
Work a dose of slow release organic fruit and berry fertilizer into the soil. This feeds your plants a little every time you water them.
Make a hole in the soil large enough to hold the plant. Carefully remove the strawberry plant from its container.
Position the strawberry plant in the hole. The top of the root system, known as the crown should be just above soil level. The crown is the short thick stem from which foliage emerges from the top and roots from the bottom.
Backfill the hole and water well.
If you are planting more than one plant per pot, be careful not to overcrowd the plants. One plant sits comfortably in a 12 to 14 inch diameter pot. In larger pots, aim to space the plants 8 inches apart in all directions. A hanging basket comfortably holds 2 to 3 plants.
If you are planting in strawberry towers, plant one specimen per pocket.
Do not overcrowd the plants. Planting strawberries in pots too close together reduces yield.
Space the young plants out, this enables them to spread and thrive.
If you are planting bare root specimens, space them 10 to 12 inch apart. While they may look small and bare initially, with a little sunlight and drink of water the plants soon plump out.
Caring for Strawberries in Pots
Planting strawberries in pots is a pleasingly low maintenance way to grow these plants. Following just a few care tips will ensure that the plants are both healthy and productive.
Water the growing plants regularly. This is particularly important when the plants are flowering and bearing fruit. While they require a regular drink of water, be careful not to overwater your strawberry plants. The top inch of the soil should be dry before you water. While a soil moisture sensor can be used, it is just as easy to stick your finger into the soil and feel for moisture.
Work in a slow release organic fertilizer when planting or apply organic liquid fertilizer once every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season. The amount of fertilizer you need to apply varies depending on the product and amount of plants. Check the fertilizer packet for specific dosage information.
A high potash liquid feed can be regularly applied as soon as flowers appear. A fertilizer mixed for tomato plants is suitable.
Planting strawberries in pots and allowing them to produce lots of runners that cascade over the edges can look visually impressive. However the production of runners diverts energy away from flowering and fruiting. This can, in turn, reduce fruit yield. Cut away excess runners with garden scissors as they appear to maximize fruit yield.
As the plants grow, fruit can spill out over the edge of the pot.
As the fruit develops you may find that you need to cover the strawberries in pots with Bird Netting to prevent birds and wildlife from harvesting the fruit before you.
In the winter, growers in cooler climates should cut the plants back and cover with an Agfabric Frost Blanket horticultural fleece. This protects them from the harsh winter frosts.
You can also move the pots to a sheltered location such as a shed or unheated garage. Keep the plants protected until the last frost date has passed before hardening off and returning to their outside growing position. Remember to check your dormant plants regularly during the winter, watering the soil when it starts to dry out.
If you have the room you can also replant the strawberry plants into a garden bed in the fall, covering them with a protective straw mulch for the winter months.
When planting strawberries in pots, it is important to water the plants correctly. Do not wet the entire plant, keep the leaves dry. This prevents fungal issues such as powdery mildew from developing.
How to Harvest
Harvesting the fruit regularly promotes flower production and encourages more fruit to form. Once Everbearing and Day neutral types start to fruit you can expect a consistent yield in 2 to 3 weeks.
Planting strawberries in pots also requires some post flowering care. After fruiting has finished, cut the plants back to just the young, central leaves. Remove any runners. These can be discarded unless you are layering or propagating new plants.
Planting strawberries in pots is a great way to cultivate the fruit.
To harvest the fruit, gently pick it from the plant.
Best enjoyed fresh, you can store the fresh fruit in a cool dark part of the kitchen. For slightly longer term storage, you can refrigerate the fruit. Strawberries placed in a refrigerator tend to keep their flavor well.
Planting strawberries in pots and hanging baskets is a reliable, low maintenance way to grow and enjoy a steady supply of fresh fruit throughout the summer months.