This ever-popular classic British fruit has a sweet taste that’s loved by young and old. Home-grown strawberries are tastier, healthier and much better value than shop-bought fruit, plus they’re easy to grow. The whole family can enjoy seeing the fruit appear in containers, in the ground and even hanging baskets.
Strawberries are typically grown from either small potted plants or bare-root plants.
When to plant strawberries
Strawberry plants can be planted from autumn to May, although winter planting in wet soil isn’t recommended.
For best results choose sunny, wind-sheltered spots and well-drained soil.
The different types of strawberries
- Summer-fruiting strawberries – these have large fruits and a heavy crop over a few weeks.
- Perpetual strawberry plants - these have small fruits, from late May to early autumn and are often called ever bearers.
How to grow potted strawberry plants
Strawberry plants that arrive as potted plants, usually from late spring, are ready for planting straight away. They can be planted directly into the ground, raised beds or troughs, grow-bags, containers or hanging baskets.
Try not to plant in places that are likely to get frost or in soils that have already grown tomatoes and potatoes as these could carry the verticillium wilt disease.
How to plant strawberry plants
- If planting in the summer, you should get your strawberry plants in the ground by the end of season, before the end of the first week in September; they can also be planed around mid-spring.
- Before planting, dig some well-rotted manure into the soil and add fertiliser.
- In beds, troughs or grow bags, plants should be placed 16inches (40cm) apart and with the rows 3ft (1m) away from each other.
- Dig a hole deep enough to take the roots (trim them to about 4inches, or 10cm, if needed) and spread the roots in the hole.
- The plant’s crown, which is the part above the roots, should be level with the soil.
- Firm the soil back in around the plant and water well. Try to keep excessive water away from the crown.
- Special strawberry fibre mats or straw can be gently placed under the plants once they grow. This protects them and helps keep weeds away.
- Use netting over the plants to work as protection from birds and animals. Add a fleece cover when there’s a risk of frosty nights.
- With perpetual (ever bearer) varieties, remove the first flowers that appear.
- Pick the fruit when it’s a rich red all over, ideally at the warmest point of the day.
- Plants will generally last for three to four years before needing to be replaced.
How to grow bare-rooted strawberries
Bare-rooted strawberries, also known as runners, are a very popular and great-value way to grow your own strawberry plants. They’re perfect for any new strawberry patches.
Bare-root plants arrive with lots of long roots and with short and stumpy leaves above the crown. They may appear unhealthy, but don’t worry – these plants will soon spring into life and bear lovely crops!
- Bare-rooted plants should be planted in late summer or the middle of spring. Prepare the soil in the same way as for potted plants (see above).
- When runners arrive, remove from the packaging and gently soak the roots in tepid water for three or four minutes.
- Plant using the same method for potted varieties. Bare root strawberries can also be grown in bags, containers or baskets – just make sure there’s enough depth for the roots.
- Strawberry plants in baskets and pots will need more watering.
- When picking the fruit, it’s better to cut or snip off at the stem rather than pull off.
- Adding tomato feed, according to pack instructions, is very helpful after you see the first flowers appearing.