Grow delicious strawberries from bare roots, potted plants, or seed and avoid the expense and plastic packaging that comes with shop-bought fruit. Easy to grow and very versatile, you need very little space to enjoy your own homegrown berries. They’re even happy in hanging baskets. Here’s everything you need to know to get bumper harvests from your strawberry plants.
There are three main types of strawberry to choose from: alpine (wild strawberries), summer-fruiting, or perpetual-fruiting strawberry varieties.
If you have plenty of growing space, planting rows of early, mid, and late season strawberries maximises your harvest, keeping your fridge stocked all summer long. Take a look at our 'Full Season Collection' for inspiration.
Strawberries favour a sunny, sheltered position in fertile, free-draining soil. To give your plants the best start, make sure you work lots of organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting. If your garden suffers from lack of sunlight, you can still grow strawberries. Summer and perpetual fruiting varieties won’t produce such a big crop, but they will grow in semi-shade. If in doubt, sow alpine varieties which actually prefer a slightly shadier location.
Plant your strawberries during the spring or autumn. For ease of access and optimum cropping, it’s best to give your strawberries plenty of space. If you’re putting strawberries straight into the ground, use a trowel to dig a hole big enough to accommodate the roots of each plant, and space them 45cm (18") apart, leaving 75cm (30") between rows.
Take care when planting strawberries. If you plant them too deep, they might rot, but if you leave the crown protruding from the soil, the plant will dry out and die. Always spread the roots out in the hole and make sure the crown is level with the surrounding soil. Firm your plants in well and water thoroughly.
Strawberries are well-suited to hanging baskets, patio containers, and strawberry planters, and are ideal for those with limited space. Growing your strawberries like this also keeps them safely away from slugs, snails, and small animals which enjoy the fruits as much as we do.
For a 12" hanging basket it's best to limit yourself to three or four strawberry plants so they’ll each have enough light, water and nutrients to thrive. Do incorporate water-retaining granules and slow-release fertiliser into the compost before planting.
Always remember to check the compost daily in hot weather – water if the top half-inch of compost feels dry. For more information on creating your own hanging baskets, check out our article on how to plant up hanging baskets.
For bumper crops of juicy strawberries, you need well-manured soil. If your soil is particularly poor, then work in some slow-release fertiliser in the spring. Then it’s all about watering, tending your plants and keeping hungry pests at bay:
After cropping, remove any straw and netting to allow better air flow around the crown of the plant. As the summer progresses, keep on top of weeding and continue to remove any runners. Clear away dead foliage as this can harbour pests and diseases over winter. Each spring spread a general purpose fertiliser around your plants along with a mulch of well-rotted manure or compost.
It’s best to replace strawberry plants after the third season because otherwise they lose vigour, making harvests smaller and the plants more susceptible to pests and diseases. If space allows, also move your strawberry beds to a different part of the garden to stop pests and diseases accumulating in the soil.
Growing strawberries from seed takes a little bit of patience because they take up to a month to germinate and will usually crop the following year. Nevertheless, this is a good way to grow more unusual varieties that aren't available as plants. A particular favourite, 'Florian', has pink flowers and produces fruit both on the parent plant and the runners, making it ideal for hanging baskets.
Growing strawberries in a greenhouse or conservatory means they’ll fruit up to a month earlier than outdoor plants.
Do remember to pollinate indoor strawberries. To do this, lightly brush a soft paint brush around the central yellow part of each of the flowers. Also remember to feed your plants with a balanced fertiliser every two weeks until flowering begins, at which point you should switch to a high-potash liquid fertiliser for the best fruiting.
That’s how to grow a scrumptious harvest of summer strawberries. All you need to do now is add a dollop of cream and reach for a glass of Pimm’s. Head over to our strawberry hub page for more information. Or try our fruit hub page which is filled with advice on growing other delicious berries and exotic fruits too.