How to grow strawberries (2023)


  • April: plant new plants from bare-root runners
  • April to June: plant pot-grown plants
  • June to July: net plants and place straw or mats around the plants. Harvest the fruits
  • July to August: once fruiting has finished, remove netting and clear straw or mats away. Start propagating from runners
  • September: plant fresh plants from home-grown runners or plant bare-root, mail order runners

Summer simply wouldn't be summer without strawberries. You can buy them all year round in supermarkets but, even in season, they’re expensive and rarely taste as good as home-grown fruit. Strawberries grow very well in pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, growing bags and strawberry planters as well as in the ground, which means they can be grown in small gardens, on balconies and even on a windowsill. They're a fun crop to grow with children.

You can buy strawberries as pot-grown plants at the garden centre in summer, or as mail-order runners in spring or autumn. Different varieties of strawberry crop at different times – there are early, mid- and late-season varieties available. If you choose a mix of varieties, you can harvest them over a longer season.

Alternatively, everbearing, remontant or perpetual varieties crop on and off throughout the summer, and produce smaller fruits. They are a good choice for a smaller garden as they have a long cropping season and don't take up too much space. Alpine strawberries are compact plants that produce tiny berries. They are a good choice for a semi-shaded spot or the front of a border and grow extremely well in pots.

Strawberry plants generally fruit well for around three or four years before they begin to run out of steam. They're easy to propagate from runners, though, so you'll always have a fresh stock of new plants.

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How to grow strawberries

Grow strawberries in a well-prepared strawberry bed, pot, growing bag or strawberry planter, in a sheltered spot that gets plenty of sun, for sweet, juicy fruits. Add plenty of well-rotted horse manure or garden compost to the soil before planting. Water plants well, especially in hot weather, and feed regularly with a high potash feed from early spring onwards. Harvest when the fruits are red all over. Replace plants every three or four years by planting fresh plants or propagating new plants from runners.

More on growing strawberries:

  • How to get an early crop of strawberries
  • The best strawberries to grow
  • How to make a strawberry bed
  • How to plant a strawberry hanging basket

Growing strawberries: jump links

  • Planting strawberries
  • Caring for strawberries
  • Harvesting strawberries
  • Propagating strawberries
  • Growing strawberries: problem-solving
  • Buying strawberries
  • Strawberries to grow
  • Strawberry recipes

How to plant strawberries in the ground

You can buy strawberry plants at the garden centre in late spring and summer. Prepare the soil well first by digging in plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure. Then scatter a high-potash general fertiliser over the soil. Plant the strawberry plants 30-45cm apart, in rows 75cm apart, so their roots are just buried, and firm the soil around them. Water in well and keep well watered for the first few weeks as they establish.

Watch Monty Don's video guide to planting up a new strawberry bed:

(Video) How to Grow Strawberries from Planting to Harvest 🍓🍓🍓🍓🍓

Growing strawberries in pots

How to grow strawberries (1)

Strawberries grow extremely well in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes. Choose a deep pot that's at least 15cm wide and plant one strawberry per pot. They thrive in moist but well-drained conditions, so use a soil-based compost with a deep layer of gravel or broken crocks in the base. Encourage flowers and fruit set by feeding with a liquid high potash feed (such as tomato food) every week or two from early spring onwards.

  • The best planters and containers for strawberries

You can also grow strawberries in growing bags. A growing bag will support six to eight strawberry plants, especially if you lay one bag over another, with holes cut around the bag, to allow roots to penetrate to the full depth.

Growing strawberries from bare-root runners

How to grow strawberries (2)

Mail-order runners are the cheaper, more traditional way to buy strawberry plants and a good option if you are starting a new strawberry patch. They are available in spring and autumn and are sold in bundles of 10-15 plants, with long roots and a tiny tuft of leaves on top. Prepare the soil well beforehand and plant the strawberries so their roots are just buried, about 30-45cm apart, then firm the soil around them. Water well for the first few weeks.

Strawberries need a cold spell to initiate flowers and fruit – ideally a fortnight below 7°C. So if you can, order and plant your runners in autumn. If you miss your chance, buy artificially chilled ‘cold-stored’ runners, available from mid-spring, which will fruit about 60 days after planting.

  • How to grow strawberries from mail order runners

Strawberry plant care

How to grow strawberries (3)

Water your strawberry plants regularly, especially when new plants are establishing or in hot weather. Avoid wetting the centre of the plant or wetting any ripening fruits, to prevent grey mould.

In early spring, scatter a general-purpose fertiliser around your plants in the ground, following the instructions on the pack. From early spring onwards, encourage flowering and fruit set by feeding your strawberry plants with a high-potash feed (such as tomato feed) every week or two (follow the pack instructions).

Tuck some straw around the plants just before the fruits start to develop, or put a strawberry mat around each plant. This helps to keep the berries clean and deters slugs and snails. It also helps to keep weeds down.

Netting can be used to deter birds and small mammals from eating the fruits. This needs to be fixed carefully as birds, hedgehogs, slow worms and other animals can become trapped in the netting, and die. Ideally, you should use a fixed net cage with holes large enough for pollinators to access the strawberry flowers, which cannot stretch and become entangled. However, by paying careful attention to loose netting you can ensure no animals can become trapped.

(Video) How To Grow Strawberries From Seed | SEED TO HARVEST

Watch Monty Don's video guide to protecting strawberry crops with straw and netting:

To encourage strong growth for next year’s crop, after fruiting finishes, cut off foliage to about 5cm above ground level and give plants a good feed with a general-purpose fertiliser (again, follow the instructions on the pack). Take away all of the old straw around the plants to avoid a build-up of pests and diseases. Remove any netting so that birds can eat any pests in the ground.

After three to four years, fruit size and quality declines so you will need to replace your plants with new stock. The easiest way to do this is to propagate your own plants, from the runners that they produce.

Harvesting strawberries

How to grow strawberries (4)

Wait until the berries are fully red all over before harvesting, as they do not continue to ripen once picked. Simply pinch through the stalks with your finger and thumb to avoid bruising the fruit. As strawberries are perishable, it's best to eat them straight from the plant, ideally still warm from the sun. You can store unwashed fruit for a few days in the fridge.

Propagating strawberry plants from runners

How to grow strawberries (5)

Step 1
Choose a healthy runner which has produced one or more leaves, and remove any stems emerging from the new leaves, while keeping it still attached to the parent plant. Fill pots with multi-purpose compost. Place the strawberry runner on the surface and hold it in place using a u-shaped staple or a piece of wire.

How to grow strawberries (6)

Step 2
Don’t snip off the stem linking the new plant to its parent – keep this until the new plant has developed strong roots. Keep the compost moist at all times.

How to grow strawberries (7)
(Video) STRAWBERRY | How Does it Grow?

Step 3
As soon as the plants are strongly rooted, snip off the stem connecting it to the parent plant, and plant in into a larger pot, or out into prepared ground.

Growing strawberries: problem solving

How to grow strawberries (8)

Slugs and snails
Strawberries are prone to attack from slugs and snails. Putting straw around the fruit can keep them at bay, or you can try other organic pest control methods.

  • How to control slugs and snails organically

Birds, especially blackbirds, love strawberries. Cover fruits with secure netting to prevent them getting at the fruits.

Grey mould
Grey mould can be a problem on strawberries, especially in wet weather. Just as your fruits are beginning to ripen, the mould (a fungus called botrytis) can ruin them. Small brown spots form on the skin, then spread over the whole fruit, turning it soft and brown. As the fruit deteriorates, a fuzzy grey layer of mould develops. Water plants in the morning rather than in the evening to give them time to dry out and take care not to splash water onto the fruit when watering. Also keep the soil around your plants clear (the fungus survives on plant debris) and remove any damaged fruits to prevent the problem spreading.

  • Grey mould on soft fruits

Powdery mildew

If the leaf surfaces have a white, powdery look in summer, this is powdery mildew. It can be a problem in hot, dry weather. Keep the soil moist and remove any affected leaves promptly. Space out your plants to avoid over-crowding and to improve air flow. Remove weeds, as they can spread the fungus.

  • Dealing with powdery mildew

Frost damage

Strawberries are hardy plants, but a late frost in May can damage growth. If possible, put a layer of fleece over your plants if frost is forecast, or move pots under cover.

Vine weevil

Vine weevil can be a particular problem for strawberries growing in pots. The adults create notches in the leaves but the most serious damage is caused by the larvae which live in the compost and eat the roots, weakening growth and often ultimately killing the plants. The first time you notice a problem may be when the plants wilt, collapse and die.

Adult vine weevils can be caught by hand and squashed. The best solution is to buy a biological control to kill the larvae. This is best applied in late summer and autumn.

  • How to control vine weevil

Verticillium wilt

Verticillium wilt is a soil-borne fungal disease that can affect strawberries. It causes sudden wilting, stunted growth and reddish yellow leaf margins. Prevention is better than cure – avoid growing strawberries on ground where you have previously grown other plants that are also prone to the disease, including chrysanthemums, potatoes, aubergines and tomatoes, and ensure that your soil is well drained. If you spot signs of the disease avoid treading on the soil, which may transfer it to other plants via your footwear – stand on a board or plank. There are no chemical controls available, so it's best to dig up affected plants. Varieties that are more resistant to verticillium wilt are available; plant them in a different part of the garden.

(Video) HOW to PLANT and GROW STRAWBERRIES, plus TIPS for growing strawberries in HOT CLIMATES

Advice for buying strawberry plants

  • Choose a variety of strawberries that fruit at different times, so you can harvest them over a longer season. There are early, mid- and late-season varieties to choose from. You can often find ready-selected collections available online or by mail order
  • For smaller gardens, 'everbearing' or 'perpetual' strawberries can provide a long strawberry season without taking up the space that several varieties would
  • You can buy ready-grown plants at the garden centre in spring and early summer, but for the best selection, buy from a specialist fruit nursery or order bare-root runners online in spring or autumn
  • Alpine varieties are often sold alongside herb plants at the garden centre; you can also grow them from seed
  • Check all plants for signs of pests and disease before planting

Where to buy strawberry plants online

Great strawberries to grow

How to grow strawberries (9)

Summer-cropping strawberries:

  • ‘Elvira’ – heavy crops and good disease resistance. An early variety
  • ‘Elsanta’ – heavy cropper with large, tasty, red fruits. A mid-season variety
  • ‘Hapil’ – large glossy fruits, even in dry conditions. A mid-season variety
  • ‘Honeoye’ – prolific fruiter with large, firm berries. A mid-season variety
  • ‘Pegasus’ – sweet, juicy, top-quality berries. A mid-season variety
  • ‘Symphony’ – good yields. A late-season variety

Everbearing strawberries:

  • ‘Aromel’ – abundant dark red, juicy berries
  • ‘Christine’ – sweet fruits that ripen in late May
  • ‘Mara des Bois’ – large, deliciously aromatic fruits

Strawberry recipes

How to grow strawberries (10)

Strawberries can be eaten in a number of ways: alone, with cream, and as ingredients in a smoothies, cakes and other desserts. Damp strawberries will quickly go mouldy, so only wash what you can eat and blot them dry on kitchen paper. Hull (remove the green calyx) them before using them – just slice it off with a knife. If you’re lucky enough to have a glut, whizz them into delicious smoothies or use to make jam. Some varieties are suitable for freezing.

You can also see some of our tried-and-tested gardening tools below, with a selection of great kit for planting and support.


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How do you grow strawberries successfully? ›

Quick facts
  1. Strawberries need full sun to produce maximum fruit.
  2. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart.
  3. Strawberries are self-fertile, but require bees for pollination.
  4. Remove some of the runners throughout the season or your strawberry plants will take over your yard.

What do strawberries need to grow? ›

Strawberries grow best in a deep, sandy loam soil rich in organic matter. The soil must be well-drained. Keep away from areas that remain wet late into the spring. The site should receive full sunlight and have a gradual slope.

What is the best fertilizer for strawberries? ›

Specifically, strawberry plants rely heavily on nitrogen. You can use a fertilizer containing only nitrogen such as urea (46-0-0) or ammonium nitrate (33-0-0). Another option is to use a balanced fertilizer such as a 12-12-12.

Can you grow strawberries if you burry one? ›

If you dig a hole, put a strawberry in it, and cover it up, you most likely won't ever see strawberry plants grow from the strawberry. In nature, the strawberries are eaten by birds and other critters, and the seeds are subsequently passed. This usually occurs during the spring or summer.

How often do you water strawberries? ›

During normal weather conditions, strawberries need water equal to 1 to 1.5 inches of rain each week. During hot, dry periods, water as needed to prevent shallow roots from drying out. Plants in containers may need daily watering. Always water early in the day so that foliage dries well before nightfall.

How often do strawberries need fertilizer? ›

Established strawberries should be fertilized once per year after the final harvest. Spring fertilization is not recommended because it can result in soft berries and overly vigorous growth that can increase the incidence of disease. Spread 8 ounces (one cup) 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 evenly over a 20-foot row.

Should I water strawberries every day? ›

Strawberry plants need regular water to thrive, especially during fruit bearing season, when they need an average of 1-2 inches of water daily. The best way to water strawberries is to use drip or soaker hose placed at least two inches away from the plant.

How can I make my strawberries grow bigger and sweeter? ›

  1. Purchase certified virus-free stock. ...
  2. Provide plenty of sunlight. ...
  3. Prepare a fertile and well-drained soil. ...
  4. Give them space. ...
  5. Water well but keep leaves dry. ...
  6. Mulch around each plant. ...
  7. Harvest ripe fruit on a sunny afternoon. ...
  8. Prune after fruiting.
Aug 25, 2016

What should strawberries not be planted by? ›

Plants to Avoid in your Strawberry Patch

Plants like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, melons, peppers, roses, mint, and okra may actually contribute to this deadly disease in strawberry plants. It is essential to note that strawberries should not even be planted in beds that have recently housed those plants on this list.

Do you put Miracle Grow on strawberries? ›

Your strawberries will display their most amazing growth if you treat them to the power combo of Miracle-Gro® soil and plant food.

Does Epsom salt help strawberries grow? ›

Adding Epsom salt to your fruits and vegetables soil will mean sweeter fruit and delicious vegetables. The Epsom salt will help to boost the chlorophyll levels in your fruit and nut trees. The more chlorophyl means more energy, and more energy means sweeter fruit.

What month do you fertilize strawberries? ›

Fertilizing strawberries in August will result in a bountiful crop of luscious berries next spring. As the daylight hours dwindle and temperatures grow cooler in the fall, fruit buds for next season's crop will develop. Fertilizer applied in August promotes increased root growth and, therefore, larger plants.

Can you get a second crop of strawberries? ›

Recommended Varieties

Vibrant is an early-season strawberry which produces heavy crops of medium to large bright red berries in early summer and a second crop may be produced in September if July temperatures are not too hot.

Is it better to plant strawberries in ground or containers? ›

Growing strawberries in the ground is easiest for long-term, perennial growing. While you can grow in containers, it may shorten the lifespan of the plant. Window boxes, flower bags, and hanging baskets are fine for a single growing season. You can also overwinter containers to continue growing in spring.

Can you grow strawberries from cut off tops? ›

We offer many tips on kitchen scrap gardening, so you may be asking, “can I regrow strawberries from strawberry tops?” The short answer is, no. Strawberry plants can't propagate.

What time a day should I water my strawberries? ›

Early morning is the best time for effective strawberry irrigation. This way, the plants have all day to dry before evening. If you're growing strawberries in containers, check the moisture daily; the potting mix will dry out quickly, especially during warm weather.

How do you keep strawberry plants healthy? ›

When growing strawberries, keep plants well-watered. Check soil weekly, and when the top inch is dry, it's time to water. Drip irrigation works well with strawberries because it keeps leaves and fruit dry, which helps reduce disease outbreaks.

Should I cut strawberry leaves? ›

In late Summer or Autumn, when the plants have finished fruiting it is a good idea to trim away all of the old foliage. Treat each plant individually and give it a good haircut with shears or a large pair of scissors.

What fertilizer makes strawberries sweet? ›

The choice of fertilizer here is key – you want one with lots of potassium because it has been proven than plants fed with a potassium rich feed develop more sugar and a better flavour! Tomato feed [Tomorite or similar] is the most well known fertilizer within this category, it's easy to find and use.

Should you put mulch around strawberry plants? ›

Apply straw mulch over strawberry plants in the late fall to prevent winter injury. Mulch saves the plants from drying out or being killed by cold winter temperatures. It also retains soil moisture the following spring and summer.

How do you enrich soil for strawberries? ›

Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost or well-aged manure over the bed up to one week before planting. Sprinkle 4 ounces of 16-16-16 fertilizer per 10-foot row over the bed. Turn the compost and fertilizer into the top 8 inches of soil so that the nutrients are available to the developing strawberries after planting.

How deep do strawberry roots go? ›

Roots. Strawberry roots are generally shallow. Most roots occupy the top 6 inches of soil except in very sandy soils, where they can reach down to 12 inches.

How long does it take for strawberries to bear fruit? ›

Generally, strawberry plants do take about a year to really begin producing good fruit.

What does 2 inches of water mean? ›

Editor: Since pots and pans vary in sizes, covering something with two inches of water means there should be two inches of water covering the top of the food, not that there are exactly two inches of water in the pot. This means that there is plenty of water to keep the food completely covered in water as it cooks.

Why are my homegrown strawberries so small? ›

Small seedy fruit and uneven growth are symptoms of poor pollination. If the seeds are not pollinated, they do not stimulate the growth of the berry around them. Very small seedy fruit are an indication that the flower was not pollinated and growth was stunted.

Why do farmers plant onions with strawberries? ›

The name is a misnomer. The rows of mild-variety onions at each end of many strawberry fields have nothing to do with strawberries, other than they benefit from the plentiful water and fertilizer that farmers use to bolster their crops of red berries. The onions soak up water and nutrients like sponges.

What do you put under strawberry plants? ›

Tuck some straw around the plants just before the fruits start to develop, or put a strawberry mat around each plant. This helps to keep the berries clean and deters slugs and snails. It also helps to keep weeds down. Netting can be used to deter birds and small mammals from eating the fruits.

What grows well next to strawberries? ›

COMPANIONS: Strawberries grow happily with beans, borage, chives, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes and spinach.

Can I use potting soil for strawberries? ›

Potting Mix for Containers

Use a good-quality, peat-free all-purpose mix. We never advise using garden soil as, in a container, it will just compact and become slow to drain, which strawberries definitely won't like. Strawberry plants prefer a free-draining mix – something that stays moist enough but never gets sodden.

Why aren't my strawberries fruiting? ›

Not enough fertilizer

In general, you should use a balanced 12-12-12 NPK slow release fertilizer or compost at the beginning of the growing season for optimum strawberry plant health. If you see lots of healthy leaves but no flowers, your plants probably have enough nitrogen and phosphorus but lack potassium.

How do you sweeten strawberry plants? ›

Did you know that your strawberry plant needs at least eight hours of sunlight every day? Of course, that might not be possible if it's raining out or the day is cloudy, but getting as much sun on your plants as possible will help them produce sweeter strawberries.

Should you cut off strawberry runners? ›

Strawberry Runners

Runners take a lot of the plant's energy to produce, so in the first two years of life they should be cut off from where they emerge to concentrate the plant's efforts on fruit production. From year three some of the runners can be used to propagate new plants.

Is vinegar good for strawberry plants? ›

This not only helps the plants, but it keeps the strawberries clean and decreases the likelihood of fungal/pathogen infection. Sphagnum peat will also add acidity as it breaks down, but the process is a slow one. Finally, another simple organic way to raise the soil acidity is to use diluted vinegar.

Are coffee grounds good fertilizer for strawberries? ›

So coffee grounds are good for strawberry plants because they provide a good source of nitrogen to it. The slight acidic nature of the brewed coffee grounds helps improve soil acidity. This makes it suitable for strawberry plants that prefer slightly acidic soil to grow well.

Do you feed strawberries when they are fruiting? ›

If growing strawberries in pots or hanging baskets, feed them with a balanced fertiliser every two weeks during the growing season. When flowering begins, switch to a high-potash liquid fertiliser to encourage fruiting.

How late can strawberries be planted? ›

Strawberries are best planted in the early spring between now and the end of May. Right now, many garden centers have them in individual 4-inch pots or in bare-root bundles of 25 roots.

Do strawberries need manure? ›

Strawberries like fertile, alkaline soil and never grow well on acid, peaty soils or shallow, poor soil. Often the soil can be improved by the addition of manure or good garden compost, but if conditions are really not ideal it is best to grow them in raised beds or pots and containers.

How do you grow strawberries without bugs eating them? ›

Cover rows of strawberries with floating row covers in summer to prevent adult insects from laying eggs in your strawberries. Use a homemade spray made from garlic or hot pepper mixed with water to spray plants. Use neem oil or a citrus-based insecticidal oil to prevent infestations.

Do strawberry plants come back every year? ›

Strawberries are perennial plants — they go through a period of dormancy in the winter and return in early spring ready to go again for another growing season. With a minimal amount of preparation for getting them through cold temperatures, your strawberry plants in pots can be as productive as in-ground plants.

How do you maintain strawberry plants? ›

When growing strawberries, keep plants well-watered. Check soil weekly, and when the top inch is dry, it's time to water. Drip irrigation works well with strawberries because it keeps leaves and fruit dry, which helps reduce disease outbreaks.

What is the best time to grow strawberries? ›

Strawberries are best planted in the spring, as early as several weeks before the last frost date. By selecting a range of strawberry varieties you can spread your harvest from late spring through to early fall.

What keeps animals away from strawberries? ›

Undoubtedly the most effective way to protect strawberries from birds is to drape the strawberry patch with bird netting, an inexpensive plastic mesh with ¼-inch holes.

Why am I not getting strawberries on my plants? ›

Not enough fertilizer

In general, you should use a balanced 12-12-12 NPK slow release fertilizer or compost at the beginning of the growing season for optimum strawberry plant health. If you see lots of healthy leaves but no flowers, your plants probably have enough nitrogen and phosphorus but lack potassium.


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