Take out the guesswork and learn how to plant strawberries either from bare root or by transplanting seedlings in this easy step-by-step tutorial.
Whether your strawberry bed is in-ground, a raised bed, or a pot, these tips will make the most of your efforts to get the maximum harvest. Included are instructions on how to care for strawberry plants in order to grow and keep them healthy all winter long.
Why You Should Learn How to Plant Strawberries
Have you ever been disappointed when you bought strawberries at the store? You bite into the bright red berry, and it has no flavor at all! No matter how beautiful a berry may look, it is the taste that counts.
Nothing says summer to me quite like fresh, ripe strawberries. They are not only good to eat fresh, but also delicious baked into desserts.
Try any of the following recipes using your strawberry harvest:
- Low Sugar Strawberry Jam Recipe
- Low Sugar Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Recipe
- From-Scratch Strawberry Shortcake
- Real Food Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake
Growing strawberries at home is the solution to the disappointment with store-bought berries. Allow me to teach you a few tips to show you how to plant strawberries so that you can have a successful berry harvest that tastes as it should.
Even if you have limited space, you can still grow strawberries. They actually do quite well planted in a pot or hanging baskets on your patio. I grow mine in my Greenstalk vertical tower garden (use code “PIONEERING” for $10 off your order!).
This gives you the flexibility to move them to a protected area during the winter months if needed, or follow the sun in the spring.
Strawberry Types and Varieties
Types of Strawberry Plants
There are several different types of strawberry plants. We plant a bed of each kind because they serve different purposes.
- June-bearing Plants – They produce one large crop from mid-June through early July. You harvest all of the berries at the same time, which is preferable if you are preserving the berries.
- Ever-bearing Plants – They produce two different crops. One is ready in the early summer and the other in early fall. This is a great option if you enjoy eating berries fresh.
- Day-neutral Varieties – These plants have a longer harvest season and are often grown on plastic mulch.
Varieties of Strawberry Plants
Within the different types of strawberries, you can then choose a variety based on your growing zone, flavor preferences, and even your long-term goals. A few common varieties that do well are:
- Earliglow – These are June-bearing, suitable for colder climates, and produce a firm, delicious berry. They are a vigorous plant and great for beginners.
- Honeoye – These are a very productive June-bearing variety. They have an excellent flavor, are disease resistant, and are easy to grow.
- Ogallala – An Ever-bearing type that is drought resistant and very flavorful.
Pro Tip: If you choose a few different types/varieties of strawberries, you will have fruit most of the growing season.
How Do Strawberries Grow?
Strawberries are a perennial plant that will continue to give you multiple years' worth of harvest if taken care of properly.
Each plant produces several flowers that have yellow centers and white petals. After the yellow center is pollinated, the white petals will die off, and the yellow center then develops into the berry.
Strawberries spread via runners that re-root and grow new plants. A container or raised bed can keep them contained in the area you want them to grow.
Best Location To Plant Strawberries
Strawberry plants will require at least six hours of full sun. They also prefer well-drained soil. Containers, pots, and raised strawberry beds are great options for strawberries. It gives home gardeners more control over the soil as well as allowing you to choose the sunlight location.
Pro Tip: If you are building containers or beds with wood, make sure any lumber you use is non-treated for your edible beds. Cedar is water-resistant and slow rotting, so it makes a great choice.
When is the Best Time to Plant Strawberries
The best time to plant bare-root strawberries is in the early spring as soon as the ground has thawed and is workable. However, if you have strawberry seedlings, the best time will be after the danger of frost has passed.
- Strawberry Seedlings or Bare Root Plants – Keep in mind seedlings should be planted after any danger of frost has passed.
- Soil – Strawberries don’t require heavy fertilization, but they will benefit from an organic compost potting soil mix. To learn how to make your own compost, check out these 7 DIY ways to compost at home. Additionally, strawberries need to be kept moist, but their roots don’t tolerate standing water. Good drainage is a must! If you have clay soil, make sure to amend it with a good compost mix. You can learn how to easily test and amend your soil here.
- Shovel – Strawberries don’t need to be planted too deeply, so a garden trowel works well.
- Sunshine – Strawberries require at least 6 hours of full sun per day, and will do even better with more.
- Water – Bare root plants will need to be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to an hour before planting. Take care to only submerge the roots in the water. For tips on garden watering strategies, check out the best way to water a vegetable garden.
How To Plant Strawberries
- If planting bare roots, soak in water at least 30 minutes before planting.
- For container planting choose a pot at least 8 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep for each plant. For in-ground and raised bed planting, dig a hole about 4-6 inches deep. The recommended distance between June-bearing strawberry plants is 15-24 inches and Ever-bearing plants is 10-18 inches apart.
Pro Tip: Strawberries can be susceptible to fungus, so keeping space for good air circulation is your best defense. If you plant them at the minimum spacing suggestions, you’ll need to keep the runners removed so your plants don’t become crowded. An additional benefit is the berries will ripen more quickly if they’re not crammed together!
- Firm up a cone of soil in the center of the hole.
- Place the strawberry plant on the cone and arrange the roots around the cone. Fill in the hole with soil, and tamp down lightly.
- Water the strawberry plant, making sure the crown of the plant remains at soil level or slightly above.
Caring For Strawberry Plants
- Spring – After you have planted the strawberries in early spring, make sure to pinch off any flowers that bud for the first few weeks. You want the plants to conserve energy for when they pollinate and produce fruit. Looking for more direction on what to do in the garden during the spring? Check out gardening in March, gardening in April, and gardening in May where I break down each garden task by month.
- Summer – During the summer, as the runners start to grow, turn them in the direction you want them to fill in your garden and press the ends gently into the soil. Continue to water and fertilize (compost) the plants throughout harvesting.
- Fall – When the plants stop producing fruit and the temperature drops, cover the plants with 6” of straw mulch to protect them through the winter months.
- Winter – For in-ground planting and raised beds, the straw mulch will be enough to protect the plants over the winter. However, you should move potted strawberries into a high tunnel, garage, or another shelter that will protect them from extreme freezing temperatures. Alternatively, you can bury plastic pots (not terracotta) so that the top of the pot is flush with the ground. Looking for more direction on what to do in the garden during the winter?
More Posts You Might Like
- Planting Berry Bushes & Fruit Trees (How Many to Plant Per Person)
- Your Gardening Questions Answered
- When & How to Plant Fruit Trees
- How to Prune a Blueberry Bush for a Larger Harvest
- Planting Raspberries – Soil Prep, Growing & Caring for your Raspberry Plants
- How to Grow Elderberries
- Low Sugar Strawberry Jam Recipe
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe
- Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
- Real Food Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake Recipe
We inherited a strawberry patch when we moved into our house. Sometimes it produces lots of berries, other times not. I am ignorant when it comes to taking care of the patch. Any tips?
Also – it seems to attract snakes. We already saw one out there the other day. Any tips on keeping these pesky guys away?
Oh yeah, now I remember we had birds eating them last year. Thoughts on that?
Hi, Barb. Are you pinching back the runners? Pinching off the new plants forces the energy into producing and ripening the berries instead of sustaining new plant growth. Also, if the plants have been there awhile, they might need some new compost mixed in with the soil.
Try some garden netting over the rows to keep the birds out, and if you secure the netting to the ground, it might keep out the snakes.
Hope that helps!
Botanical Guardian HISS OFF Snake Repellent is an All-Natural way to protect yourself and your family from snakes. Formulated with All Natural Plant Oils(Read More) our Snake Repellent creates an invisible shield protecting your home, campsite, tent, crawlspaces, gardens and flower beds.
Unique, All-Natural Formulation that is naphthalene free and will not harm vegetation. Formula is environmentally safe and keeps snakes away from gardens, flower beds, crawlspaces and patios. It works by confusing a snake’s sense of smell and taste, forcing them to go away.
16 fl. oz. concentrate saves over 80% from using individual spray bottles.
So excited to have our first garden this year (although I had one as a child, my hubby did not and since we have recently moved from the city to the country…). I am actually planning to plant strawberries so this was most helpful!
Awesome. Look forward to hearing about it, Amanda. I’ll have more gardening posts related to the season as we go. 🙂
Rabbits always eat my strawberries 🙁
Try netting them. Or moving into raised beds where they can’t reach. I’ve heard Bobex (organic safe spray) works well.
Such helpful information! Thank you for providing it. I have June-bearing strawberries that are way too crowded according to this. I can immediately make some changes 🙂 I am going to go out and buy me some Everbearing ones also since my youngest and I like to pick and eat any strawberries that we can find fresh.
So happy the article helped you, Joan. Let me know what you think of having both varieties.
LOVE this! Love the wonderful ideas you have on your site. Have saved it and will be back.
Yea! So glad to meet you Mary and look forward to hearing more from you. 🙂
Would love to grow strawberries but they seem to be a lot of work. I have thought of having a big round strawberry patch but never got to it.
Karen, they’re really not that much work. I haven’t done a thing to them in the two weeks since I planted them. 🙂
I’ve always wanted to plant strawberries but just don’t know if I have to space.
Theresa, you can even just do four plants in a whiskey barrel planter, or try one of those hanging strawberry planters.
Greetings from Southwest Kansas! We’re growing our first container garden this year. We bought a pink plaatic kiddie pool and drilled 1/4 ” holes in the bottom for drainage. We planted ever-bearing “Tristan” strawberries around the middle of May. We’ve had such a cool start to our summer, but they are really starting to produce fruit now. They aren’t very sweet, but maybe because they are so tiny. Just wanted to share what we’re trying.
Hello! So happy to hear about your planting and thanks for sharing.
I was given a hanging strawberry plant last year as a gift and I was pretty disappointing with the berries it produced. We only got a handful of really tiny berries so I’m not sure if it was the type of plant itself or what. I’m going to look into getting more this year. Thanks for the tips!
Linda, we tried the hanging tomato plants one year, but they didn’t do well either. We had a hard time keeping the soil moist. Strawberries don’t produce as much their first year, so that might have been part of it. Do you know what kind of berries they were?
If you mulch them heavily (woodchips), it helps them to stay moist. When the seasons done, put a thin layer of your woodchips on them through the winter and before you know it, new ones will sprout in spring and old will die and decompose into the ground! Very low maintenance…no weeding involved! Win, win!
Excellent tip! Any way to cut back on weeding is a win indeed.
shirley..June 27 2013
Thank you Melissa for all this information on strawberries.
my patch is quite overgrown
, and soon as I get some nice weather
I will go out and remove a lot of the runners..I did this last fall but there are a lot on them now…I need the berries to grow larger….
Can strawberry’s be planted in metal tubs?
You can, but you need to follow some guidelines and line the tub properly as it can offer some health risks if you don’t. Here’s a good article on how to do the metal tub route. http://www.gardenguides.com/111137-plant-strawberries-rusty-galvanized-tubs.html
101 Vegetable Gardening Tips & Ideas | Mom with a PREP
[…] Strawberries […]
What is the best soil to plant strawberries in? This is our first time to plant.
When and How to Plant Fruit Trees
[…] If you plan on moving an established fruit tree or fruit plant or planting a bare root or potted tree, be sure you dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep. Create a cone shape of dirt in the bottom of the hole and spread the roots out and down this dirt cone (same technique in How to Plant Strawberries) […]
I have two berry spots. One plant I put in the front of an 18″ pot nested with a smaller container in the center. It has come back two seasons to produce nicely. The other patch I created in a clay pot using runners from the first plant. The berries do well in June, so I assume I need to look for an ever bearing set of plants. Thank you for the info. Great page!
(I signed up for your booklet, but the page is giving me a 404 error – page not found! Please, advise! =) Thanks…)
Sorry you’re having difficulties with the booklet, but good job on the berries! Here’s the freebies page (I actually have quite a few freebies) if this doesn’t work, let me know. The freebies will come via email. https://melissaknorris.com/freebies/
Guy St Hilaire
Thank you so much for the tips .So important especially for the times we live in .Cheers and Bless your heart!
Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of pests (bugs) in a strawberry patch? Last year I had a problem with something eating the almost ripe fruit. Not sure what it was.
Hi Melissa! Thanks for all the tips!! I have a question about storing the containers of strawberry plants in a shed/garage/high tunnel and how often you need to water them? Thanks!! Alexis