Have you ever thought about growing strawberries in your backyard? If the answer is no, then you are missing out!
Simply use containers to grow the fruit and start enjoying every bit of deliciousness they will produce for you.
Strawberries have shallow roots, and that is why it is easy to grow them in pots. The best part about the whole ideal is that you get to eliminate the laborious process of growing strawberries in fields.
Some of the main reasons why you should consider growing the fruits in pots include:
- The process is convenient
Growing the fruits in containers doesn’t limit you to the specific spot where you planted them. You can place the pots anywhere you want like, for example, at the entrance of your living room to act as decorations. Meanwhile, you will be eagerly waiting for them to mature so that you can enjoy the fruits.
- It becomes easy to control pests
By now, you should be aware that land harbors all sorts of pests and diseases. That means you will have to spend a fortune controlling them. Well, that won’t be a problem when you grow your strawberries in pots. The process is known to cut the pest control expenses significantly!
- Container Gardening requires minimum space
So far, this is one of the main reasons why people grow strawberries in containers. Sometimes space can be minimal, thus deterring you from growing anything. With containers, you can manage your garden space way better and plant as many strawberries as you wish. Instead of going horizontal, you can manage your gardening space vertical.
What kind of soil is best for Strawberries?
Just like any other plant, Strawberries require rich soil that is full of nutrients.
The soil should be slightly acidic, which is best for the plant with a PH of 5.5 to 6.5. If the soil is neutral or alkaline, you shouldn’t worry about it. You can manually make your soil acidic if you don´t want to get new soil.
The plant also requires soil that has good drainage. This way, the strawberries will have an easy time growing, and the roots will be able to absorb the required nutrients so that it can develop perfectly.
The soil should also have great moisture retention capabilities.
Strawberries require adequate moisture throughout their growth cycle. You should, however, make sure that the soil does not become soggy in the process.
If you get the part with the soil right, then your strawberries will be able to grow, flower, and develop fruits without any problem.
How to make your soil acidic
As mentioned above, strawberries only require slightly acidic soil for perfect growth. In case your soil is not acidic, then you will have to induce the acidity manually. This can be done in numerous ways, for instance:
- Add Sulfur compounds moths before planting
This method is only applicable when you still have some time before planting your strawberries. To be precise, use sulfur compounds when you have at least three months to planting day. The most common sulfur compounds to use include the common sulfur, aluminum sulfate, and ferrous sulfate. You must be wondering why the soil needs to remain unused for three to six months before planting. This is because bacteria will first have to oxidize the soil before sulfur compounds go-ahead to acidify it. This process usually takes quite some time.
- Use Phosphorus fertilizer on planted strawberries
In case you find out that your soil is not acidic enough after planting your strawberries, go ahead and use any fertilizer that is rich in phosphorus. The fertilizer will acidify the soil without harming your plants. You can also make use of aluminum sulfate, but this comes with strict rules. Only use it when the soil is a bit dry. That way, the fertilizer will become much more effective.
- Mix the soil with compost manure
Compost manure is known to be acidic. So in every pot, make sure that you mix the soil with the manure to achieve the required PH. To be certain your soil has a PH of 5.5 to 6.5, use a PH testing kit, you can always find one in your local store. Without the PH testing kit, you might find yourself making the soil too acidic for the plants.
- Use coffee leaves
If you have a way of acquiring coffee leaves, then go for them. Coffee leaves are known to work miracles. They can boost your soil PH to the acidic level required to grow your strawberries in no time. What you have to do is mix the decomposed coffee leaves with soil. Once the mixture is ready, test the PH to check whether it is as recommended. If it is yet to attain the required acidity, go ahead and add more coffee leaves.
There are also other methods you can use to make your soil achieve the required acidity. Simply mix the soil you are planning to use with all sort of organic matter that is known to make the soil acidic.
You can go ahead and use leaf mold, blood meal, or bone meal. You should, however, refrain from using organic matter that will end up harming your plants in the long run. So make sure you inquire from an expert before you opt for any other organic matter that is not mentioned above.
Why Using organic matter is preferred to make the soil acidic than fertilizers
What makes organic matter the best method to make the soil acidic is that it comes with additional nutrients that the plant needs.
Such nutrients added to the fertilizer will make your strawberries grow remarkably well. You will be achieving the right acidity for your soil while improving the number of nutrients required in the soil.
How to use fertilizer when planting strawberries in containers
It is important that you don’t confuse making the soil acidic with feeding it with nutrients.
Acidity is just a way of ensuring the conditions are favorable for the growth of strawberries. The soil can be acidic and still lack the appropriate nutrients for the plant to grow healthy. That is where fertilizers come in. So how do you fertilize the soil for planting your strawberries?
How to Fertilize the Soil for Planting Strawberries
Vermiculite and Pearlite are very important fertilizers whether you are planting your strawberries out in the field or pots.
As mentioned above, the soil you use for planting the fruits should have the ability to retain moisture without being soggy. The only way to achieve such properties is by using either Vermiculite of Pearlite fertilizers.
Both of them perform the same function so you can use one in place of the other but don´t use both!
What Vermiculite or Pearlite do is that they retain moisture while maintaining the drainage properties of the soil.
So proceed by pouring the right amount of the fertilizer to the soil that is already slightly acidic. Mix it perfectly to ensure that it is well distributed throughout the soil.
The better the distribution, the more the mixture will retain water while maintaining perfect drainage.
What Kind of Container is best for strawberries?
Picking the type of container to use for your plants can be quite challenging if you don’t know what to look for.
There are quite a huge number of containers to use, but the basic type should be a pot that is shaped like an urn with a variety of holes in the container. These holes guarantee the necessary drainage while also keeping the soil aerated.
When it comes to the material of the container, you are at liberty to use plastic containers, ceramic pots, or clay pots.
Plastic pots are known to be light and thus easy to move around. They are also easy to perforate when needed.
Clay pots tend to last for a short while since most of them are not waterproof although they are usually good to plant strawberries.
Ceramic pots, on the other hand, are great but very heavy.
When you are picking your pots, that you would like to use to plant your strawberry plants, keep the factors, I just mentioned above, in mind. Other than that you are absolutely free to choose whatever container, that you want to use. But also keep the size of the pot in Mind.
The size of the pot matters big time! Strawberries can grow in quite small containers. A container of 10 to 12 inches in diameter and about 8 inches deep, would already be enough. The bigger the pot the better, however.
If you are planning to plant a couple of strawberries in one pot, you will need to get a large container. This is because the strawberries have to be planted in a spacing of 10 inches to 12 inches from one another.
This will enable every individual plant to grow without distraction. In case you need only one plant per pot, then go for a small container.
What kind of strawberry variants are there
There are quite a huge variety of strawberries. So it might be a little bit of a challenge picking the best strawberry variant to grow.
That is why you are always advised to find out what types of strawberries are available in your area and which of these variants may grow better in your climate.
So far the main varieties include Honeoye, sparkle, Tristar, seascape, allstar, jewel, Chandler, Ozark beauty and earliglow among many others.
For commercial purposes, people tend to prefer Honeoye because it is known for producing a great harvest. Honeoye also produces large berries, and the yield tends to remain the same throughout the seasons.
Earliglow is yet another popular strawberry variant that is known for its fast setting and early ripening abilities. There is no other variety available that can outdo Earliglow when it comes to quick ripening.
It, however, reduces in yield after every produce. Those two types are the main varieties of strawberries most people go for due to their numerous advantages.
The choice on which plant you want to grow is entirely yours.
How to plant strawberries in pots
Once you have prepared the soil and everything else is ready. You now move on to planting the strawberries.
You will need:
- The Container or Containers of your choice
- Slightly Acidic soil (PH 5.5 to 6.5)
- Watering Can
- Liquid phosphorus fertilizer
- Strawberry seedlings or crowns
Step one: Put the prepared soil in the pots
You should have your soil ready to use. The mixture should also have the perfect PH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5.
Fill the pot until it’s approximately one inch from the brim. This will give the plant adequate room to grow.
If you are planning to use bigger pots, make sure you first fill the bottom with rocks before adding the soil. This will help with the drainage.
Fill the last inch of the container with loose soil. Loam is preferred since it is good at holding water and draining excessive amounts.
Step two: Plant your strawberries
You need to have either strawberry crowns or strawberry seedlings.
If you are using the crowns. Dig a hole in the soil mixture. It should be a bit shallow, just above the surface. Take your plant and spread the roots then gently place it in the hole created. Cover the roots and make sure the soil goes up to the crown. That way, it will be able to hold effectively.
If you have seedlings. Dig a shallow hole and place your strawberry seedling into it. Finally, cover the seed with loose soil. Alternatively, you can first raise the plant in a nursery pot until the seedling is strong enough for the bigger container.
Step three: Place the pot in a good location
The positioning of the pot after planting your strawberries is very important.
For maximum yield, the plant should be placed at a spot that guarantees 7 hours to 8 hours of sunshine. This is because strawberries require this amount of sun to grow healthy.
You should also ensure that every part of the plant receives the same amount of sunlight. If the sunlight can only reach on one side of the plant, go ahead and spin the pot periodically. This should be done roughly after every fourth day.
Congratulations you have planted your very own strawberry plant. But how do you take care of it properly?
Make sure the plant is watered
This is an important part of how to care for your strawberry plant.
Watering is mandatory. You should, however, be very keen when doing it. This is because too much water will make the soil soggy while too little water will affect the growth of the plant.
So always make sure that the soil is dry to about one inch below the surface before you water the plant. You should also note that your watering routine will change as the plant grows bigger.
When the plant is ready to produce fruit it will start absorbing more water than it used to. This means that you’ll have to increase the rate at which you water the strawberries too.
During hot summer days, you will have to water the plant more than normal as well.
Insufficient watering will hinder the plant’s growth and it may even die if you are not careful.
Fertilize your plant!
Just like any other plant, strawberries require nutrients to ensure they grow strong and healthy. This is where the liquid phosphorus fertilizer mentioned above comes in.
If you did some little gardening or agriculture, you should already be aware that phosphorus is one of the most important nutrients that nearly all plants require.
The fertilizer is known to help in rooting of the plant. With big roots, the plant will be able to absorb adequate water and nutrients. The roots will also provide the strawberry with enough strength to support the whole plant, including its fruits after maturity.
Phosphorus also helps the plant to set flowering buds. These are the parts that eventually grow to become strawberries. It is thus obvious the more the strawberry plant flowers, the better the harvest.
To prevent starving your plant, make sure you provide it with liquid phosphorus after every two to three weeks. This should be done gently and carefully.
If your plants go for a long time without the nutrients, it will end up being weak, and you will end up with a poor harvest.
Protect your strawberries from freezing weather
If you live in areas where the winter is always comprised of freezing weather, then you should make sure your plant doesn’t get affected.
During such periods, transfer your pot to a place that is cold but not freezing. You must be wondering why not just keep it in a warm environment? During winters, strawberries usually undergo hibernation. If you want the plant to develop strawberries, then let them hibernate.
When winter comes, minimize the amount of water as well as the number of nutrients you give to the plant. They will thus undergo hibernation until when winter is over.
If you let your plants hibernate the strawberries you will be getting in the following summer will be sweeter than otherwise.
Prepare your Strawberries for a rich Harvest
Every strawberry plant should be prepared for the Harvest.
When the initial flowers appear, pluck them out. This step will ensure that you have the best harvest when the plant flowers again. When the next flowers appear, let them be. These flowers will be more plenty, then the first round and they will develop in your tasty Strawberries later.
Although it will take you quite a long time, your patience will be worth your while. This is also when you have to replenish the nutrients in the pot.
Remember, potting soil doesn’t replenish nutrients like land. Therefore, it is mandatory to change the soil once in a while.
Take care of the runners
Runners are usually long curly vines that come out from strawberry plants.
How you deal with the runner depends on one question. Do you want to grow other strawberries?
If yes, then go ahead and keep the runners or cut them from the plant after they developed roots and plant them in new containers.
If no, pluck them out. You should, however, keep in mind that runners tend to minimize the number of nutrients taken to the fruits.
Runners may be taking a lot of the required nutrition from the main plant if you leave them be. Keep that in mind!
You will also have to increase the number of nutrients you provide the plant as well as the amount of water you give it if you keep the runners.
Harvesting the Strawberries!
After doing all the above, your berries will grow to be healthy, and the yield will hopefully be nothing but perfect.
You should now wait until the berries are red enough for you to harvest them. The harvesting process is simple.
You will have to twist the fruits gently to avoid breaking the branches in the process. Make sure you also get rid of any rotten strawberries. This will leave the plant ready and undisturbed for the next harvest.
What pests to look out for and how to get rid of them
Strawberries are special types of plant that when left uncared for will end up succumbing to pests. It is obvious that when you plant them in pots, they tend to become less vulnerable than when cultivated on land.
This, however, doesn’t mean that you should not keep the necessary vermin control measures in place. You must ensure that your strawberries are pest free and healthy at all times.
If you want to know whether your strawberries are infested by pets or not, check the stalks, the buds, fruits, and the leaves. Those are so far the main areas that pests will go for.
You may also find the leaf´s having spots that are powdery while other pests cause discoloration of the leaf´s if you notice holes on the strawberries themselves that is also a sign of an unwanted visitor.
If the flowers and the buds are damaged then it is very likely, that your plants have been infested.
How to Identify which Pest has been attacking your Plant
Every vermin usually gets attracted to a specific part of a plant. In the case of strawberry plants, the pests are mainly drawn to the leaves and the fruits.
Those two parts are known to be the main target for vermin. For potted strawberry plants, root pests are usually uncommon, but that doesn’t mean they don’t attack once in a while. You should thus be on the lookout always.
There are so many types of pests that pose danger to strawberries. Below are some of the most common types of pests and diseases and how to get rid of them.
If your potted plants are placed next to a bushy moist area or debris, know that you might end up dealing with slugs sooner or later. These pests are known to feed on the fruits leaving behind a huge mess. Your leaves will also end up having a slimy trail on them that indicates the presence of slugs. To take care of this problem, minimize the number of times you water your strawberries. Also make sure your pots are not placed near moist areas, bushes or debris.
- Strawberry weevils
These are among the worst pests. If you don’t take care of them soon enough, your strawberries will never produce fruits. This is because the weevils tend to feed on the flowers once they are produced. They then leave behind eggs to feed on the buds. What you have to do is remove any infected buds and spray them with pesticides to keep them away.
Caterpillars are known to feed on the strawberry’s leave and stalk. They also feed on the fruit when they develop. You will always find them coiled on the leaves of the strawberry plants. To do away with them, spray pesticides directly to the leaves. This should be done both early in the morning and late in the evening. That way you will get rid of any caterpillars and keep your strawberry plant healthy.
That is about it on the most common pests. There are a few more pests, that can befall your plant but these are the common ones and I have rarely seen any other pests befalling my plants.
That was my complete guide on growing strawberries in containers. I hope I answered all your questions and I wish you fun with growing your own Strawberry plant!