Growing Strawberries

growing strawberries: illustration of how to plant
white strawberry blooms

It takes about a month to go from pollinated bloom to ripe fruit.

The best strawberries you’ll ever taste will come from a garden, because fully ripened strawberries have a rich, aromatic flavor unmatched by their supermarket counterparts. Savoring the melt-in-your-mouth juiciness of freshly picked strawberries is but one reason to grow your own. As the first fruits to ripen in spring, strawberries are nutritious assets to any garden. The sturdy little plants prosper when planted in properly prepared beds or rows, or you can put them to work as edible edgings or let them sprawl over the top of a wall. Strawberries are happy to grow in strawberry jars and hanging baskets, too.

The Strawberry Life Cycle
Success with strawberries asks that you understand their life cycle. Like most hardy perennials, strawberries die back in winter and start growing vigorously as the soil warms in spring. After bearing fruit (as early as February in Florida, or June farther north), many types of strawberries produce numerous runners with baby plants at the tips. Those runners often root themselves nearby yet remain attached to the mother plant. These types of strawberries produce more fruit if you clip off most of the runners, allowing each plant to produce no more than 3 daughter plants each summer. (Some varieties, such as Loran and Tristan, produce few to no runners.)

growing strawberries in garden with straw mulch

Mulch, such as straw (as pictured here) or black plastic, helps keep the soil moist and the fruit clean.

Exhausted from producing fruit and offspring, strawberries typically take a second rest period during summer’s second half. When kept weeded and lightly watered, most parent plants – and their offspring – perk up and grow again for a while in the fall. Even though it may look like little is going on with strawberries in September, the plants are busy during the fall months developing the latent buds that will grow into next spring’s flowers.

From zone 6 northward, strawberries are best planted in spring so they will be well-rooted by the following winter. Containers can be replanted in late summer and moved to a cool, protected place such as an unheated garage during the coldest months.

From zone 7 southward, strawberries can be planted in fall. (In Florida and other warm, humid coastal areas, many are grown as cool weather annuals.) Once a planting is established, simply lift your healthiest plants each September, and replant them in a freshly renovated site.

Growing strawberries doesn’t have to entail so much work, though. In all areas, strawberries can be allowed to grow into a vibrant green ground cover that requires little maintenance. The plants won’t bear as heavily as more intensively managed plants, but they will still produce delicious berries, year after year.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Cut runners so the plant continues to focus energy on berry production.

These young strawberry plants are sending out runners (the shoots to the left). If your strawberry plants produce runners, clip most of them to allow the mother plant to produce more fruit.

Strawberries need at least 8 hours of full sun each day, and they prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. If soils in your area are naturally alkaline, it is best to grow strawberries in half-barrels or other large containers filled with potting soil. Strawberries may also sulk in heavy clay, which should be generously amended with composted leaves, fully rotted sawdust, or another bulky type of organic matter before planting strawberries. After mixing in 4 inches or more of compost, rake clay soil into raised mounds to further improve drainage. If your soil is sandy, simply cultivate to remove weeds, and mix in a 1-inch layer of rich compost or rotted manure.

Many varieties of strawberries eagerly produce offspring, so it is best to space them 18 inches apart. There are a few varieties, though (such as Tristan and Loran), that produce few if any runners; these can be spaced 6 inches apart. (Check the tag for exact details on spacing.) Be sure to set the plants so that their roots are well covered with soil but the central growing bud, or crown, is exposed to light and fresh air. This is very important: If you bury the crown, the plant could easily rot. Water them well. Any type of mulch – from black plastic to pine straw to shredded leaves – will keep the soil moist and the plants clean. Fertilize with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food for excellent results. Look for your plants to begin blooming in early spring, and the flowers must be visited by bees and other pollinating insects before they can set fruit. In warm, sunny weather, berries ripen about 30 days after blossoms are fertilized.

Protect strawberry plants from frost and from birds by creating a hoop that can be covered with row cover cloth or bird netting.

An arch made of wire fencing can support a row cover for frost protection in the spring and bird netting later when the fruit comes along. Remove row covers when possible to encourage visits by bees that help with pollination.

June-bearing varieties such as Allstar bear all at once, usually over a period of about 3 weeks. Although called June-bearing, these bear earlier than June in warm climates.

Everbearing varieties like Eversweet and Quinault  produce a big crop from spring flowers, set light flushes of fruit through summer, and then bloom and bear again in late summer and fall.

Troubleshooting

Odd looking strawberries can be caused by poor pollination. This happens to strawberry plants in cool, wet weather.

If your strawberry plant produces deformed berries, the weather may be to blame. Bees tend to stay in their hives during rain and cool temperatures, which can hinder pollination.

Slugs often chew holes in strawberries just as they begin to ripen. Organic mulches such as straw encourage slugs, so where slugs are a problem, a plastic mulch helps. In summer, several fungal diseases cause dark spots to form on leaves. Clipping or mowing strawberry foliage and raking it away in summer can interrupt the life cycles of some strawberry pests and diseases. By far the worst pests of strawberries are birds. To keep robins, brown thrashers, and other fruit-eaters from stealing your berries, cover the plants with lightweight bird netting when the berries begin to ripen.

Sometimes your fruit may be small because of heat and drought. Once you start watering and the weather improves, the new fruit should be of normal size.

Harvest and Storage

Homegrown strawberries are sweeter and more tender than store-bought strawberries.Pick strawberries in the morning, when the fruits are cool, and immediately put them in the refrigerator. Wait until just before you eat or cook them to rinse the berries thoroughly with cool water. Extra strawberries can be frozen, dried, or made into jam or preserves.

Download our How to Grow Strawberries instructions. They are in .PDF format.

FAQs

How do I know how old my plants are? Do I need to remove the blooms the first year?

Any plants that were just purchased are in their first year of growth. Although our plant tags may say to pick the blooms the first year, this is not essential. Picking the blooms keeps energy directed toward foliage and plant growth so that plants are bigger the following year. However, you can leave the blooms and enjoy a few berries the first year.

Is the Arizona sun too intense for strawberries?

In your area, give them shade through the summer months.

How do strawberries grow in strawberry jars?

Strawberries do well in strawberry jars, but you will have to work to keep them watered and they are not as productive as in the ground, due to much lower soil volume. Strawberry jars are a fun novelty and are especially useful for small patio and condo gardens.

How do I save my strawberries from greedy birds?

It is always a good idea to cover ripening berries with a net that protects the fruit without harming the birds. You can find bird netting at stores that sell garden supplies.

When are strawberries ready to pick?

Harvest berries when they turn red. Avoid leaving ripe berries on the vine, as they will rot quickly.

Is it true that strawberries should be stored unwashed?

Yes. Wet berries spoil rapidly, even in the refrigerator. Only wash strawberries immediately before eating.

117 Comments

Danielle Toski

My strawberry plant has a large, tall stem and the leaves on the bottom. Is this normal? Should I cut it down? I’ve never seen a strawberry plant grow so tall with all of the leaves practically on the bottom.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Danielle,
You may have a runner that has sent up a new daughter plant. If this is the case, you can clip the daughter plant off. If you would like, you can upload a picture to the Bonnie Plants Ask an Expert system to get a better look. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Sheena

Hello. I recently bought strawberry plants. I have had a few people tell me to pick the blooms off. Some of the blooms have strawberries on them. Do I go ahead and pick those off? Will it affect the plants next year?

Danielle Carroll

Hello Sheena,
It’s a good idea to pinch off some blooms so the strawberry plants will put their energy into root and foliage growth so that plants are bigger the followng year. But leave a few blooms and berries, you have to have a taste test :) – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Megan

When a berry in my hanging basket has started to turn red, is that as big as it will get? ie, does it grow to full size and THEN turn red or can i expect it to keep growing in size while also changing to red?

thanks!

Danielle Carroll

Hello Megan,
Once the berry turns red, it is time to harvest. Strawberries do not keep very long on the vine once they are red. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

Danielle Carroll

Hi Debbie,
You sure can! – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Darryl

I am new to strawberries and was wondering how, since I mulched the strawberries plants with straw, how will the plant send out runners? And if they do, will I see them?
Should I leave the mulch on all winter for protection? I live in Zone 9.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Darryl,
Don’t worry, even with mulch, the strawberry plants will send out runners. I like to have mulch around the plants – not only for winter protection- but to help keep the weeds down. – danielle, Bonnie Plants

Melissa

I live in Omaha, NE. I planted my strawberry plants in pots in early April. They seem to be doing great and already have some strawberries. This confused me as I thought I had the June bearing variety. I am assuming I have ever-bearing now. How do I know when to pick the berries? They are small but are completely red.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Melissa,
Sounds like it may be time to harvest! Harvest berries when they are completely red. Once they are ripe, they will start to rot quickly. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Debra Burkeen

I was reading up on strawberries hoping to improve the patch I planted last year. We got few berries and they weren’t very big. I am going to fertilize and try to make the soil a little more acidic then put down straw. One of the sites I read said not to plant strawberries where tomatoes or peppers have been for the past 4 yrs. My plot had both the past few years as well as zucchini. I was thinking of making the whole plot strawberries and letting them fill in. Should I start over somewhere else? Also, not sure what to do to rejuvenate. Do I did up whole plot and plant new plants? Thanks so much, I really would like a nice strawberry patch but so far it has been pretty much a dud. Thanks again, Debra

Danielle Carroll

Hi Debra,
It is not recommend to plant strawberries after tomatoes and plants in the tomato family because all of these plants are susceptible to verticillium wilt – a soil fungus. This is one of the reasons that tomatoes with some disease resistance are widely grown and crop rotation is important. I see no reason to dig up mid season (depending on where you live if could be early season :) ) The purpose of renovating a strawberry bed is to keep the strawberries producing for a couple of seasons – keeping the bed from becoming overcrowded. This can be done by mowing the strawberries back after harvest (if they are planted in a row), discarding the leaves and creating new rows so there is space between the plants. This is a publication from Ohio State Univeristy extension that goes into strawberry renovation into detail. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Noelia

Hi, I bought one of your strawberry plants this weekend at Home Depot, the one that comes in the hanging pot. Should I replant it or can I leave it there?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Noelia,
Strawberries grow well in hanging pots! Is the hanging basket at least 10″ in diameter? If it is, it is large enough for a strawberry plant :) – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Marianne Taylor

Hi, We have snow coming here at Lake of the Ozarks here in Missouri. Yesterday it was in the 80’s and now my gardens are full of blooms and fruit. Do I need to protect them? I’m afraid the fruit will freeze. Thinking about throwing sheets over them. Really need some ideas fast. Hope you have time to answer. I appreciate your time and advice. Thank You so much.

Sincerely,
Marianne Taylor

Danielle Carroll

Hello Marianne,
With snow coming, you may want to cover the strawberries with fruit - this is how row covers work. -danielle, Bonnie Plants

Julio

Hi! I have my quinalt strawberries in a container, but didn’t put down any mulch. I’ve noticed that some of the smaller leaves around the crown are turning reddish-brown, so is that because there’s no mulch? If so, is cypress mulch a good choice? I can’t seem to find straw mulch anywhere. Also, if I do put down mulch, what plant food should I use for the berries? I currently have Osmocote granular plant food, but can I continue using that if there is mulch surrounding the plant? Thank you!

Danielle Carroll

Hi Julio,
It is normal to have new reddish leaves on a strawbery plant. In fact, all the leaves would be red if not for the green pigment in chorophyll :) Just check them everyday and make sure the leaves are not turning brown and drying out. If so, check your container soil to see if it is staying too wet or too dry. You can use almost any of the wood mulches. Cypress mulch is a good mulch to use, just don’t pack it so tight that the strawberry runners are unable to come up. You can keep fertilizing with your plant food – or use a water soluble type. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Aiya Bowman

I live in Arizona and have tried growing strawberries each year. Each year I get the saddest looking strawberries ever. I plant them once the temperature is lower than 75 so that they don’t fry. They get one or two flowers after a while which produce extremely sweet strawberries not even a centimeter across. After I get a few berries the plant starts to shrivel up and die. I give it plenty of water and room to grow. During the summer I visit my grandma up on Vancouver Island and see her magnificent strawberry patch. I’m a bit jealous and want to know what I can do to get mine to grow large and healthy like hers.

Danielle Carroll

Hello Aiya,
Arizona gets really hot in the summertime! What types of strawberries are you growing? June bearers or Ever bearers? This article from Arizona Extension explains the differences in the berries and special considerations in Arizona gardens. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Ethel Weldon

I am planting Albion Strawberries in 5 hanging baskets. They are lined baskets. I also have the pebbles that hold water. Should I use them on the bottom of the basket then the soil
How many plants in one basket I was thinking 4. I read that it is advisable to mound your soil then plant the on top of it.
I guess I am going a long way to take care of 5 baskets ON MY DECK. I have organic fertilizer which calls for 1/4 cup spread evenly around the collar.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Ethel,
When it comes to plating strawberries in containers, the key is a well drained potting mix. If you use the pebbles, I would use them on the bottom. The number of plants will depend on how large the containers are. A 10 inch size container is suggested per strawberry plant. Strawberries grow well in containers…here is another container idea, a strawberry fountain! Strawberries can get a little finicky if their crown is planted too deep…there is a great video with planting instructions on the Growing Strawberries page. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Dee

hi! I received several Bonnie quinalt Strawberry plants from my son for my birthday april 6th. I am new to this, I live in central nebraska and want to know the optimal time to plant these as we have had an ice and snow storm here this week and the ground is still very cold. Thank you!

Danielle Carroll

Hi Dee,
Happy Birthday! Strawberries are cool / cold weather plants. This is an extension publication from Nebraska with details on growing strawberries in your area…looks like it is time to plant your berries outside! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Denise

Hello I recently bought a strawberry plant from home depot and now the leaves are turning yellow.I have kept them in the sun and water them when they become dry…Can you please help me so I can save them this is my first year trying to grow some fresh herbs,and vegetable so this is all foreign to me.Thanks!

Danielle Carroll

Hello Denise,
Let’s see if we can get your strawberry plant green and healthy. Be sure and fertilize with a slow release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer according to the label directions. If the strawberry plant is in a container, make sure it has plenty of drainage, but do not let the soil completely dry between waterings. Water when the top inch or so of soil has dried to keep the soil moist, but not water logged. Also, take a peek at this video on planting strawberries. They are finicky if they are planted too deep or not deep enough. Let me know how it goes. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Lynn

HELP PLEASE?
I live in NE Arkansas & I have a lovely strawberry patch. That I started 3 years ago. The plants grow & spread every year. I cut the runners & mulch w/dried leaves. Problem? I have maybe had 2 or 3 visible and edible STRAWBERRIES! I have made a raised bed & I want to transplant these, but have I waited to late? BTW I learned how to build a raised bed from Bonnie so I know that you can answer me fast so that I’ll know what to do.
Thanks, Lynn

Danielle Carroll

Hello Lynn,
You can still transplant the strawberry plants if it is still cold and there are no flowers or growth on the plants. Be sure and do not plant them too deep. There is a planting diagram on this extension publication from Missouri. If you move to a new bed, remember to mulch (helps cut back on fungal diseases) and fertilize and water properly. Do you know what type of strawberries you are growing? I am also attaching a publication from the Univeristy of Arkansas Cooperative Exension on home garden strawberries, great information for your local area. Keep us informed.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Joia

I live in Philadelphia & want to grow strawberries! I absolutely love them! I don’t have land so I would have to use jars and/or containers. Where should I start?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Joia,
Yum, fresh strawberries! You will need: a container, a good potting mix, strawberry plants, water, fertilizer, and time. Start by picking a place that gets full sun (6-8 hours – more is better). You may try one of these strawberry fountains, made of several containers. The largest container is 24 inches in diameter. You can also grow strawberries in a strawberry jar. or hanging basket. For either, use the same type potting mix as you would the strawberry fountain. Enjoy.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Laura

For those wanting sweeter strawberries, and nothing seems to make the difference….Sugar! That’s right, put sugar around the roots and your plant will suck it up when it rains or you water it and it will become sweeter.

tina collier

i was wandering how many berries does one plant yeild each harvest

Danielle Carroll

Hi Tina,
This varies widely between strawberry types. June bearing strawberry plants (where they are grown) may produce 1/2 to a pound of fruit (per foot row) if fertilized, watered, and grown in good soils / environment. Everbearing varieties produce a slighter smaller amount per foot, but bear longer in some regions. Protect the strawberries from birds, and fertilize and water correctly for optimum harvest.
Happy Gardening,
Danielle

Barbara Guerrero

Im in zone 9 sacramento, california. When do I plant strawberry’s Ive heard this month, no that month, no in Fall, no in Spring. I want strawberry this year, please help me as I will be planting in containers. When, do I buy plants, or seeds? can I use steer manure along with the potting soil? Bonnie I have read and read your section on strawberry but do not know when to plant HELP ME

Mary Beth

Hi Barbara,
The best resource for your exact region is right in your backyard and has a wealth of wonderful information. Get to know your Cooperative Extension Service in Sacramento. For instance, I see there is a local “Edible Landscaping” workshop coming up March 9 that I bet you’d love! The information link on growing berries in your backyard leads to several helpful documents. It’s advised for areas with warm winters and very hot summers to plant strawberries in the Fall and in the Spring for everyone else. Strawberries are wonderful in containers and it makes harvesting very easy. Check your local garden centers now to find plants, and use this site to see what stores carry Bonnie Plants. Don’t use fresh steer manure on any plants! You want to compost that with lots of green and brown matter and age it well before using in your garden, as it can burn plants and pose a health risk if fresh. Get started composting by reading this section: http://bonnieplants.com/library/articles/composting/. Happy growing! Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Lisa

This will be the third spring for my strawberries and the second full season for producing. The past 2 years the fruits have been tart. Any suggestions?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Lisa,

Strawberries do continue to turn red after being harvested although they do not continue to ripen. So, harvesting the berries at their peak (really red) will give you the sweetest berry. The downside to this…the riper a strawberry gets, the more the birds like them. Environment can also have a lot to do with it. Berries that ripen in the warmer parts of the year usually do not have the sweet flavor of early strawberries. Make sure the berries are being grown in a well draining soil, mulched well, and fertilized properly. Healthy plants yield the best fruit.

Happy Gardening,
Danielle, Bonnie Plants

phil

i am getting about 20 Quinalt plants and want to grow them in 10″ or larger pots. Will they over winter ok in lake county, fl close to deland. Any advise on growing in pots would be greatly helpfull—-phil

Danielle Carroll

Hi Phil,
Strawberries will overwinter in Florida. This is a short publication from the University of Florida Cooperative Extension System. Remember to use a good quality potting mix and fertilize often. Growing in pots is fun and so is growing in a strawberry fountain.
Happy Gardening,
Danielle

Carrie

Hello! I have a strawberry patch that is 3 years old, last year the berries were excellent, until we got hit with a lot of rain, and they seemed flavorless after that…very juicy but not sweet like usual…was it becuase there was too much rain? How can I avoid this, short of putting tiny umbrellas over my plants? ;) Also it was a mild winter this year, so I have a huge amount of daughter plants…can I use these as transplants to make another patch?

Mary Beth

Hi Carrie,
The best investment — of time and foresight — for your garden patch is the soil. The quality of soil will direct everything thereafter–good drainage, healthy plants and flavorful foods. You certainly could shelter your garden from a deluge by covering with hoop houses or row covers (or umbrellas!), but you also want to ensure that the soil drains well after a good soaking. Tomatoes and berries do exactly what you experienced — they swell and dilute flavor when overwatered. Some farmers are known to stress their plants by not watering right before harvest for a deeper flavor! I wouldn’t recommend that, without researching the details first and knowing how to keep your plants healthy. A temporary rain shelter might be just the ticket if you’re doing everything else right and expecting a week’s worth of monsoons. :) You can definitely use those daughter plants, and you want to trim them from the mother plant so she stays productive and keeps her energy. Make sure you read the tabs within this article above and the photo captions; there are tips on clipping these daughter plants. You can also see more here, in this Extension article. Happy growing! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Melody

I am wanting to install window boxes across my front porch (its very sunny) and grow strawberries there. Anyone have any advise for me concerning growing strawberries in boxes?

bob

December and January strawberries has been the best in San Francisco, California whether from Costco or Safeway or local produce stores. Sweet and not sour like the summer strawberries. Why is this? What varieties are these and where do they come from.

Mary Beth

Hi Bob,
I wish I could help answer your question, but I’m not sure what varieties or sources these strawberries are that you’re eating. :) It’s long been believed that homegrown berries are the sweetest of all, since they are allowed to fully ripen on the plant before shipping. Sour ones are usually really large and not allowed to fully ripen. The varieties of strawberries that we sell are listed here. Add some to your garden! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

justin

Hi, Why i’m just curious as to why my plant is coming out with fruits in winter? ?? I live in california but the temperature ranges from about 35 degrees to 70 degrees F. Is this abnormal?

Mary Beth

Hi Justin,
It sounds like the weather might be what is abnormal? Strawberries will flush out with growth and possibly even blooms & fruit if the soil is warming and the plant “thinks” it is spring. It might be a good idea to mulch well around this new growth and ensure that tender leaves are protected if the temperatures drop back down to colder levels. My guess is that it will continue to flourish when it is “supposed” to in spring as well. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Lindsey

Hi. My aunt has a raised bed full of strawberries. They are so healthy!! She was wondering though what she should do to care for them in the winter, since they are in a raised bed. They are very thick too, so it looks like it will be hard to mulch them. Thanks for your help!

Mary Beth

Hi Lindsey,
We are glad to hear they are doing so well! Send pics to the rest of our gardening community via our Facebook page. It’s great for encouragement and sharing tips. For your winter prep, here are a few thoughts: Because the crown of a strawberry plant may be killed at 15 degrees F, winter protection is essential. After 2 or 3 frosts have hardened off the plants, cover them with 4 – 6 inches of straw. Snow is an excellent insulator and will be sufficient where snow cover is reliable. Mulch should be removed in spring when growth begins, but may be left between rows to act as the summer mulch. If a frost is predicted after flowering begins, either recover the plants with straw or protect them with spunbonded polyester rowcovers. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Tony A

Hi
Never had a winter problem with Strawberries, even at -30 Celsius. They are one of the hardiest plants around, they are subject to rot in excessive water retention soils.
Incidentally, the name Strawberry comes from the old English name of Strayberry ( because of their runners) not because you mulch with straw.

Rick

Hi. We live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Have a big 45 x 25 garden. Having had great everbearing strawberries in Pennsylvania, we planted them when we moved here and also built a hinged cage with chicken wire to keep the birds out of them. The first year not much of a crop, the 2nd and 3rd years the crop was irregular with berries that were very small. Frustrated, we pulled them all up and will rototill the area. We want to plant everbearing so we get several crops, but want to make sure we get the right variety for our weather and soil. The caged area is 20 by 4. Thanks for your ideas!

Mary Beth

Hi Rick,
Your garden sounds very nice. That’s lots of space to play in. I’m sorry to hear about your frustrations with strawberries but let’s trouble-shoot a few options. First of all, the first year of planting shouldn’t produce fruit. In fact, if your plants bloom, you should pinch them off to allow more energy to be devoted to root development and strength for next year (I know, I know). If the production is irregular or misshapen, it’s often the result of improper pollination. While strawberries are self-fertile, you do need bees, pollinating insects, or wind to cause the pollen to get to necessary parts of the bloom. You can help with this by hand, or you can plant many blooming annuals and perennials around the chicken wire area to attract pollinators. You also want to avoid over fertilizing, as this causes lots of leafy green growth and not much flowering. Not to frustrate you by sharing options, but to tell you that it could be any number of things. I don’t think anything was probably wrong with the plants you removed, if you still have them…? When planting, be sure the crowns are not buried under soil and instead rest evenly with the soil line. Try planting a June-bearing variety and an ever-bearing variety to extend your harvests. This document from your state’s Extension gives localized advice. Look for our Quinault plants, too. If you like what you read here on our site, consider joining our Facebook community and e-newsletter subscription. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Rick

For some reason I thought I’d get a notice that you responded, but didn’t – so I came back and found it. Thanks for the info, will review.

Mark

I have 30+ strawberry plants that are growing very good should I cut them back to their crowns in preparation for the winter

Mary Beth

Hi Mark,
Don’t cut the plants back, as you say, as they are forming the buds now that will become next year’s fruit. You may remove small or weak “daughter” plants that are baby plants off of long shoots (if they are not full of foliage and seem established enough to produce next year). When it is nearing hard freeze temperatures in your area, it’s wise to deeply mulch around the strawberry plants to give them a warm “blanket” for winter. In the spring, when temperatures begin to warm up, uncover the plants and spread that mulch around the crowns as a great weed barrier. Regardless of where you are located, this is a helpful article from Cooperative Extension in Nebraska that elaborates on our own “Growing Strawberries” article. Good luck!

curt

just bought sequoia starwberry plants…fully formed with flowers… can they be planted now?? do they need to be cut back?

Danielle Carroll

Hi Curt,
I would plant those strawberry plants as is. Be careful not to plant the strawberry plants too deeply. The video on this page will show you how deeply to plant them.
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Patty

I live in Phoenix and I am new to gardening. I just bought Quinalt strawberry plants and I have transplanted them into containers. They are very happy and should do well, as we have a warm fall. However, because I live in the dessert, I am wondering what I should do with the strawberry plants when summer rolls around again. We have summers that reach 115 and above. Should I plant the strawberries in the ground or keep them in containers and move them in the shade when it gets hot? Will the plants survive either way?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Patty,

I like your idea of keeping the strawberry plants in containers, which gives you the option of moving the plants into part shade during the really hot parts of summer. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Janice

I am making 2 strawberry rows. I am going to mix in some peat moss and mushroom compost because the soil has a lot of red clay. Is this ok? Also I want to leave the plants there for a few years. Is this ok? Oh and I am going to put a cover around them that keeps the grass and weeds out. Will any of this work?

Mary Beth

Hi Janice,
Amending your soil is the most important step in beginning a garden spot. It sounds like you are on the right path. Make sure that your soil contains plenty of organic matter to combat the brick-like effects of clay. You might enjoy this article on how to go about that, “Good Soil Means Good Vegetables.” Mushroom compost, old leaves, bags of compost or aged manure (which is fully composted manure mixed with sand) will all do well mixed in with your native soil. Strawberries grown in the ground as you intend are a great groundcover and will spread and ramble to fill the area. You can keep them in rows, if you like, by clipping off the daughter plants (or runners) and maintain healthy, large parent plants. Some gardeners plant in groundcover cloth as we mention here, while others choose to mulch heavily with straw as a weed barrier. Be sure to check out our special section on strawberries, full of videos and other articles of interest. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Ora Hill

Hi I bought some bonnie strawberries and have had them in a hanging container for this first year and we got a couple berries but not much. I know that the first year isn’t usually the best. So now I am wondering if I need to move the plant indoors for the winter and when and how to do that. Also next year I was considering moving the plant into a strawberry jar. I was wondering if you can plant the daughters right into the side of the jar if I decide to do that. Thanks.

Mary Beth

Hi Ora,
Since you’ve posted within this article, you probably already saw the direction for winter care depending on your gardening Zone. It sounds like you have cold winters, so you can bring the basket into your garage for the winter. The strawberry jar would be perfect for them next Spring and yes, you can plant the daughters into the side of the jar. They’ll root and grow just as sturdy as the mother plant in no time. Happy growing. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Lynda

I bought some strawberry hanging planters from Walmart this spring, they already had berries on them, and they’ve been producing all summer. What should I do with them now? My options are to plant them or store in a basement at 60-65 degrees. Which is best?

Mary Beth

Hi Lynda,
You can do either of those options, though you might enjoy planting them in the ground so that they can multiply with the “daughter” shoots. Follow our instructions on planting above, and be sure to mulch them heavily before it freezes for winter in your area. Your strawberry patch will double in size next year and you’ll enjoy it twice as much! Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

nicholas

I am growing ozark, sequoia, and quinalt strawberries and they are always super juicy but no sweetness at all what so ever. they are in organic soil and I feed them from time to time. is there any thing I can do to get sweeter strawberries?

Mary Beth

Hi Nicholas,
Taste can vary for a few reasons, such a the variety that you grow, watering amounts, and sunlight. Since you are growing three varieties that are known to be tasty and they are all lacking sweetness, we know it’s not the variety. You mention that they are very juicy, so it leads me to believe that they are getting a lot of water and perhaps growing in less sunlight than optimal. Has it been cloudy or shadier where they are planted? I would make sure they are in full sun and cut back on watering to 2x per week. Let us know how it grows! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Mohammad Khan

I bought a strawberry plant I’m not sure if I should plant them now and cover it with mulch or if I should put it in a pot with mulch and plant them in the spring.

Mary Beth

Hi Mohammad,
It should be fine to plant it now and mulch around the plant. Later, mulch it heavily or take care to cover it with hay or straw — when nearing the time for heavy freezes of winter (if that happens where you live). Right now the plant should remain uncovered as it’s forming buds for next year and hardening off for the cooler season. Hope that helps! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Kate Firoved

Hi! I have some Bonnie strawberry plants and they are in their second year. The strawberries taste great but are often misshapen. Some of them also have little holes in them. I live in a dry climate so there are not many bugs. I haven’t seen any… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a slug here. (I’m in Colorado) The strawberries have always been small, but like I said they taste good. Any idea what might be wrong? I hate throwing the ones with the holes away!

Mary Beth

Hi Kate,
There is no comparison to the taste of fresh, homegrown strawberries, right? Glad you have enjoyed these. The berries will be smaller or misshapen, as we note in this article, if they are not pollinated fully. They are still edible, though. As for the holes, you may try finding slugs by putting out a saucer of beer in the garden soil. They will come out at night and crawl straight into it to their bitter end. If it’s not slugs, it might be what folks call “roly poly” or mealy bugs. They like decaying matter, so keep your berries off the ground by mulching with straw and keeping them clean/dry. Hopefully this will solve your mystery of little holes! Keep an eye on them and let us know what you find. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Kate Firoved

Thanks so much! We do have roly poly so I bet that’s it… I’ll try for the slugs too though just in case.

Christine Schrey

I planted quinalt strawberries this spring and they are doing well. Can I leave them in the ground (we’re in zone 5) over winter? What do I need to do to protect them?

Mary Beth

Hi Christine,
You can mulch your strawberries very well with 6″ of pine straw for winter protection. Strawberries in the ground are usually mulched heavily to begin with, as it helps provide a weed barrier. Just cover them in a nice blanket of straw as soon as frost hits and keep it on all winter. Come spring, and warmer temps, you can uncover them and use the straw as bedding mulch for weed barrier while the plants put out new green growth and blooms. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Angela

How can I determine how many “daughter” plants to cut off? My sberries have not bloomed but are producing offspring at an alarming rate. I would like to get berries in the fall, what’s the best way to set up for that?

Thanks, love your website.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Angela,

We recommend keeping no more than 3 daughter plants per summer, so clip the rest. The best way to get fall fruit is to plant an everbearing variety such as Ozark Beauty or Quinault. Fertilize plants in fall to promote bud growth for a better crop next spring. Thanks for the comment on our website, and happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Adam Lewis

I’ve got second years Ozark Beauties growing in containers and I’m not getting any fruit off them so far this year. They aren’t even showing signs of any berry trusses coming up. They are producing runners like crazy which I’ve been clipping so they would produce fruit but so far no luck. I have them in two other areas in the ground and they are both producing fruit though interestingly enough the ones that get more shade have been producing well and the ones in full sun produced a few early and are just now starting to flower again. Also, should I prune berry trusses off once all the fruit is gone from it or let them wither and dry up naturally?

Mary Beth

Hi Adam,
I shared your experience with our Ask An Expert service. Our best diagnosis is that they may have been overfertilized to induce such growth; overfertilization will cause poor berry production. I’d expect some berries this fall, if all goes well. There is no need to prune the berry trusses off once the fruit is gone. You can actually clip them off and plant the crowns in a new strawberry bed, if you choose. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

stephanie davis

Hello this is my second time trying a garden first time gofers ran me out of my own yard they kept eating the veggies so now Im doing containers, you see so many websites feed this not that is there a basic way to grow veggies like water every two days or dont put in sunlight or fertilize with this and get great results I am so confused, I live in sunny calif so I shouldn’t have many problems with great weather, but I do HELP.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Stephanie,

We have lots of info about growing veggies in containers. Read about this topic in our Container Gardening section. One of the most important articles is titled “What Size Pot?” So many gardeners try to grow veggies in too-small containers. I hope this info helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

TJ

I have six strawberry plants growing in a row planted last year. Last year they produced a small number of fruit, but they did produce. This year the berries will turn red but not grow much bigger than the size of a marble. They are also all misshapen. What can I do to fix this?
Also I have runners off every plant that have already taken root. Should I still pick/clip them at this stage? Thank you for your help!

Mary Beth

Hi TJ,
It sounds like they might not have gotten enough water. Sometimes your fruit may be small because of heat and drought. As the weather improves, the new fruit should grow back normal size. Since the runners have already rooted, they’ve already stolen a good bit of the energy that could have gone into fruit production, so I’d leave them alone at this point and let them grow into new plants. You’ll double your harvest with these “daughter” plants. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Jenny

Can I take the “babies” that are coming off the plants I have and root them?

Mary Beth

Hi Jenny,
Yes, you can. In fact, the description you use is close to what most people say…The “mother” strawberry plant puts off “daughter” plants that will then root and grow next year’s crop. You can easily multiply your berry patches by clipping off those daughter plants from the runners and rooting in a new plot. Just be cautious to avoid burying the crown.
~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

Chris

Hi, I planted the quinalt strawberry in a hanging basket and it is producing red fruit for us. However, everything after I pick them and washing them, they become sift and mushy. Why does it do that? The fruit looks healthy. Is there a trick on the right way of picking them or the right time? Thanks for the help.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Chris,

We do recommend picking in the morning before daytime sun causes fruit to soften. Also, your strawberries may be more watery if picked just after a rain or after watering, and this could be a cause for mushiness. Try picking first thing in the morning and see if this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Jane

In April, my daughter-in-law set out strawberry plants in my raised garden. They are Bonnie brand from Home Depot, and are producing lots of fruit. They are also putting out long straight stems going straight up. They look like weeds with clusters of yellow flowers which turn to white fluff balls. Is this normal? This is my first experience with strawberries.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Jane,

Strawberry plants produce flowers but they don’t look like what you’re describing. This sounds like weeds. What did you use for mulch around your strawberry plants? Maybe the mulch had some weed seeds in it? Look closer to see if these are really part of the strawberry plants or coming from the soil beneath. If you find that they’re weeds, go ahead and pull them. Straw mulch is a good option for mulching around plants because it doesn’t contain weed seeds, keeps soil moist, and prevents problems with pests such as slugs and snails. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Rachael

i live in PA and i started growing strawberries on June 22, is that too late for them or too early?
thanks…
(p.s. i am a newbie) :)

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Rachael,

You could’ve planted your strawberry plants a bit earlier but you should be fine planting now in your area. I hope you enjoy your strawberries! Check out our special strawberry page for links to our favorite strawberry-related articles and recipes. You can also read the articles in our Gardening Basics section with lots of helpful information for newbies and old-hats alike. Also, sign up for our newsletter and “Like” us on our Bonnie Facebook page to receive more info that will help you grow as a gardener!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Cathy Reulbach

My strawberry plants are growing large with lot’s of runners, but no fruit. Last year the produces lot’s of berries, but this year almost none. What am I doing wrong?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Cathy,

You need to clip those runners so your plants can focus on growing fruit instead of producing offspring. Read a little more about the Strawberry Life Cycle above. We recommend clipping runners so your plants produce no more than 3 offspring a season. This encourages more fruiting. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Asia

I have 5 strawberry plants that need to be planted ASAP. I bought a topsy turvy but, after reading reviews I decided not to use it. I saw a neat idea to plant the strawberry plants in a reusable grocery bag. I do have a small garden which contains onions, 1 tomato plant, 1 squash plant, 2 pumkin plants, 1 bell pepper plant, 1 hot pepper plant, 1 sweet pepper plant, 2 rows of corn (3/row), 1 row of 6 pole bean plants, and two rows of collard greens. I should add that this is my first time planting a garden so I’m learning as I go. My questions are:
1. When I sat my strawberries out in the sun the flies totally killed every strawberry on the plant. What can I use to prvent flies from harming my strawberries?
2. The leaves of my pole bean plants are starting to look withered should I place something over then to shield them from the sun?
3. I planted multiple collard green seeds in each hole (5 per hole in 1 row and maybe 10 per hole in the other row) and now there are several sprouts bunched together. Should I pull some of them up or wait until they grow bigger?

Thanks so much for your help. Sorry this is so long.

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Asia,

Congrats on growing your first garden! Be sure to read our article “Seasoned Advice for First Time Gardeners” and other advice in our Gardening Basics section. Now, let me try to answer your questions one by one…

1. Flies can become a problem with strawberries that are left to ripen too long on the plant. Check your plants every morning for new ripe berries. It’s best to harvest in the morning when berries are cool. Warm, ripe berries are more attractive to flies. Make sure you’re not overwatering, which can also create conditions attractive to flies, and be sure your plants are well mulched to avoid problems with pests. Straw mulch is great for strawberry plants. You can find it at your local garden center. (Be sure to use straw and not hay.)

2. Have you fertilized your pole beans recently? You might try feeding them to see if this perks them up. You can use a liquid fertilizer made for vegetable plants, such as our Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. Also, overwatering can cause a plant’s leaves to turn yellow and it can also cause root rot in bean and pea plants. Be sure you’re not giving your beans too much love. Read our article “How Much Water Do Vegetables Need?

3. Yes, you should thin your collard plants out a bit to allow the plants to grow in the small space. According to this article from the University of Illinois, you should thin your collard seedlings to about 6 inches apart.

I hope this helps, Asia! It’s great to hear from new gardeners. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Jake

I’ve planted several strawberry plants and they all seem to have been growing great, but one by one they seem to be dying off. the leaves turn brown(not hard/crispy, burned like, but still soft ) and then the stems start turning brown and then the plant dies, then the same problem seems to start with the plant right next to it. Any ideas whats going on?

carol

I have many old strawberry plants, which don’t produce much and when they do, the strawberries are sweet but small. How can I tell which are new and which old, so I can throw away the old and nurture the new?

Kelly Smith Trimble

Hi Carol,

When you have many plants of varying ages, it’s really hard to tell which are the oldest. You could start by removing the poor producers, but if most of your plants are 2-3 years old or more, then your best bet for quality berries is to remove all the old plants and replace with fresh new ones. A few new strawberry plants will be much more productive than many old ones and will produce higher quality strawberries, too. I hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

John Hobbins

Do I need to use anything to wry off insects, squirrels, chipmunks or deer form consuming my strawberries? Thank you.

Kelly Smith

Hi John,

Read our article Protecting Strawberries from Birds for information about protecting those precious berries from a few potential predators. Keep strawberry plants mulched well to ward off slugs. The squirrels, chipmunks, and deer might be a little harder. Surrounding you garden with fencing could help with deer. Our friend P. Allen Smith has a few other suggestions for squirrels. Watch his video about Defending Your Garden from Groundhogs, Rabbits, and Squirrels for ideas. Happy growing!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Debbie Boullion

what weed killler can i use in my strawberry bed to kill creeping charlie and sorrell seem like the more i pull the the worse it gets

Kelly Smith

Hi Debbie,

You can use an herbicide that has these weeds listed on the label. Be sure to apply according to label instructions and avoid getting any on your strawberry plants. You can call your regional Extension office for specific recommendations. Also, are your strawberry plants mulched properly? Mulch is very important for strawberry plantings, both to keep moisture in and to keep weeds out. You can use straw mulch, or some gardeners swear by black plastic. Hope this helps!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Jenne

Can I move my strawberry plants or will it hurt them? This is my first garden and I made three raised box gardens. The one with two strawberry plants also has a cucumber plant that is growing like crazy, a newly flowering cantaloupe plant, a straightneck squash plant not yet doing much, and a zucchini plant with lots of flowers, but no female fruit. The original research suggested I could plant this much in my 4×4′ boxes, but now I’m concerned that they are too crowded. One of my boxes has no plants yet, should I move the strawberry plants? They are producing very small berries so far. Can you help?

Kelly Smith

Hi Jenne,

Yes, you should be able to carefully move your strawberry plants to the second bed. Be sure to watch our How to Plant Strawberries video first, and then fertilizer them after planting. It sounds like your current bed is going to be full of vines! We typically suggest planting cantaloupe 4 to 6 feet apart and planting squash and zucchini nearly 3 feet apart. These plants can grow huge! You can add trellises to help the plants grow vertically and maximize the space. I hope this helps.

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Missy

DO NOT PLANT CANTALOUPE AND CUCUMBERS TOGETHER!
Last year I planted my Cantaloupe and Muskmelon next to a row of cucumbers.
I had to throw every single Cantaloupe in the garbage because they tasted like cucumber!
The flavor is hard to describe, but, IT WAS TERRIBLE!
I’m not sure if there is anything you can do about it now,Sorry!

Missy

Sorry Jenne, I replied to the wrong post. I meant to reply to your post. I sure hope your cantaloupe taste better than mine did last year after planting next to a row of cucumbers!
Please read the comment below Kelly’s reply to your questions.

Star

I bought the plant a couple of years ago, and it flowered, but I never got any fruit. This year, I discovered why, it seems to be only producing female flowers and is not self-fertile. It would have been nice to have known that before I bought it, so I didn’t waste years waiting for strawberries I’m never going to get.

Kelly Smith

Hi Star,

Actually, strawberry plants are self-pollinating. Strawberry pollination is aided by wind or insects, though. Do you see bees and other insects buzzing around your garden? If not, this might be the cause of your pollination problem. Pollinators are often scarce in cool, wet weather, but there are ways to attract bees to your garden. Read our article “You Need These Bees in Your Garden” for more information.

Also, be sure to fertilize your plants. You may also want to snip the runners that create daughter plants, so you can keep the energy going to your primary plant. I hope this helps you grow some strawberries!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Janet

I have my strawberries in a hanning pot I just noticed ants all over mt plant, Will this hurt my plant? What should I do?

Kelly Smith

Hi Janet,

I got this answer from our Ask an Expert service:

Ants can be a problem. Read this link from the University of Georgia Extension Service that should help you with the ants. Use only the recommendations in the Homes gardens section. Also, make sure the insecticide you use is labeled for strawberries and follow all label instructions.
Ants can be an indicater of other pests such as aphids, scales, white flies, etc., so keep an eye out for other pests in your garden too.

I hope this helps! Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Valerie

I bought the quinalt variety of strawberries back in early spring and planted them in a strawberry topsy turvy. I have about 15 plants and they seem to only be producing small strawberries. I didn’t know if this is normal in the first year or could it be that they are doing this because I divided them when I bought them to stretch them out and save money? All the help would be greatly appreciated. They were Bonnie plants also.

Kelly Smith

Hi Valerie,

Our strawberry transplants are far enough along when you plant them that they should produce the first year, rather than having to wait until the second year. Your berries might be smaller the first year, though, as you’re finding out. Fertilize your plants with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food and you should see good results.

Happy growing!
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

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