Strawberries are pretty easy to grow. They do well in raised garden beds, traditional gardens, or even in large planters or pots. But if you want to make your strawberry plants produce as much as possible, you have to make sure you give them everything they need to thrive.
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Types of Strawberries
Before you can really know what your strawberries want, you have to know what kind of strawberries you’re growing. There are three common types of strawberry plants: day-neutral, everbearing, and June-bearing.
Day-neutral strawberries produce smaller fruit than other varieties, but they are fairly abundant producers in their first year.
Everbearing strawberries typically provide two harvests, one in spring and another in the late summer.
June-bearing strawberries are the most popular variety and produce the largest berries. They usually begin producing fruit at the beginning of June, and the harvest lasts for about two or three weeks. There are also early, mid, and later season varieties of June-bearing, and planting a combination ensures berries all season long.
How Strawberries Grow
Strawberries are perennials, which means they come back every year, but not every year is the same. Understanding the lifecycle of the strawberry plant can help you plan a planting schedule to ensure you get a good harvest every year.
In the first year, after they produce their first fruits, the strawberry plants begin to spread and multiply. When winter comes and the temperature cools, the plants die back a bit and go into dormancy.
When the soil warms up to about 35 degrees or so in the spring, second-year plants begin to grow quickly, producing more fruit than they did the previous year.
By the third and fourth years, although the plants are still alive, they may not be able to produce fruit at all or the fruit they do produce will be bland and smaller in size. To try to prolong their production, you can try to keep them warm over the winter by covering them.
You can also increase your yield with runners. Depending on the variety, most healthy strawberry plants produce runners as a way to spread and propagate themselves. The runners are sometimes called daughter plants.
These thin stems appear about five weeks after the mother plant matures. They grow from the bottom base of the mother plant, then root and produce vertical plants.
If a mother plant has too many runners, they exhaust the energy of the plant and reduce the number of berries it can produce. Generally, a mother plant can handle as many as three daughter plants to increase the harvest without depleting the plant’s energy.
Remove any extra runners and replant them in another part of the garden. This method is a great way to extend the yield from a single plant that you already know is healthy. To do so, make sure the node stays in contact with the soil and be patient while it roots.
Soil and Light
To make sure you get the best possible harvest from your strawberry plants, you have to give them everything you need, including the right type of soil and lighting conditions.
As for soil, strawberries prefer it a little on the acidic side with a pH between 6 and 6.5. You may need to test the soil to be sure it falls within these parameters. Strawberries also need about eight hours of sunlight every day, so make sure you plant them in an area where they get this exposure.
How you plant the strawberries matters, too. You don’t want your strawberry plants too deep or they won’t produce much fruit. But you also don’t want it too shallow as this will stress the plant, which also stops it from producing a lot of fruit.
It takes a lot for a strawberry plant to produce flowers and berries, so make sure you use the right fertilizer to support its growth throughout the spring and summer.
Where and How to Plant Strawberries
If you’re planting your strawberry seedlings in the ground or in pots or containers, do so in early spring when the sun isn’t too harsh. Try late in the afternoon or on a cloudy day to make sure the young plants aren’t overwhelmed by the harsh heat and bright sun of the day right away.
As mentioned, how deep you plant your strawberries is essential. If they’re too deep or too exposed, they won’t produce a lot of fruit. Place them in the soil until the roots are covered and the crown has room to grow. Keep them about 18 inches apart from one another and at least two feet away from other plants.
Keeping the plants properly spaced can also help increase the amount of strawberries the plants produce. It ensures that each plant gets all of the nutrients it needs to thrive and make as much fruit as possible. If the plants are too cramped, none of them will get what they need and berry production will suffer.
While strawberries grow well in either a raised bed or a pot, pots are a great choice if your yard doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight. One of the big benefits of the strawberry pot is that you can move it wherever you need it to be to make sure it gets the right amount of sunlight.
Another good thing about pots is that you can move them inside or under shelter if the weather gets really bad or if there’s an unexpectedly cold night.
One way to make your strawberry plants produce more fruit is to stagger when you plant them. As most plants are more productive in their second year and begin to decline in their fourth, planting a new strawberry plant every year while also removing an old one delivers a consistent harvest, year after year.
Other than that, the best way to get more fruit is to make sure your strawberries always have what they need to thrive. Make sure they’re not planted too deep or too shallow in soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5.
Strawberries need about eight hours of sunlight every day, and you should fertilize them throughout the growing season to make sure they have the nutrients they need to produce the most fruit possible.
If you have a raised garden bed that gets enough sunlight during the day, your strawberries should do quite well. If not, try growing them in a pot so you have some versatility in where you can place them to be sure they get what they need.