How to Grow Strawberries – ( Easy Step By Step )

Have you ever wondered why homegrown strawberries are so much more delicious and succulent compared to those purchased from stores? Consider embarking on the journey of learning how to cultivate these exquisite fruits, the crown jewel of the berry world, right in your own backyard. Here’s some encouraging news for those who believe that mastering the art of growing and nurturing strawberries at home is a formidable task. In reality, it is a straightforward and cost-effective endeavor to indulge in the pleasure of cultivating strawberries within the comforts of your home.

Let’s briefly explain how to grow strawberries. You can easily grow strawberry seedlings from seeds. Sprinkle the seeds in a pot containing multipurpose compost mix. Water the seeds, don’t let them dry out. Put in the direct sun until seeds germinate. Transfer seedlings to individual pots once they are 3 inches in length. For growing strawberries from runners, peg the runners in the ground while still attached to a mother plant. Once the plantlets grow 3 to 4 leaves, transfer them to individual pots and follow the mentioned aftercare guidelines.

So, all the strawberry lovers, get ready to grow your own.  In this article, you’ll learn how to grow strawberries at home, in a container, or directly in the soil. How to prevent your strawberry plants from diseases and many more.

How to Grow Strawberries from Seeds?

If you’re new to gardening and embarking on your green-thumb journey, it’s advisable to begin by learning how to plant strawberries in containers. Once you’ve gained some experience, you can then explore growing them in-ground or in raised beds.

Those tiny speck-like formations on the outer surface of a strawberry fruit are its seeds.

To cultivate strawberries from seeds in containers, the first step is to germinate seedlings from the seeds and subsequently transplant them into individual containers. The optimal temperature range for successful strawberry growth is between 64 to 77oF (18 to 25oC).

However, it’s important to note that growing strawberries from seeds is a time-consuming process. It’s possible that you may not harvest any fruits until the following growing season, as this outcome is heavily influenced by factors such as your location and the length of daylight. Therefore, exercise patience and provide proper care for your plants. As the wise Aristotle once proclaimed, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

Step 1. Collect Strawberry Seeds

Obtaining a strawberry seed pack from a reliable online garden store or your local garden center is a convenient option. However, there’s also the possibility of collecting seeds directly from the strawberry fruit itself, and here’s a helpful tip. When choosing a strawberry for seed collection, it’s preferable to opt for a homegrown fruit rather than a store-bought one. It’s worth reaching out to your neighbors or friends who cultivate organic strawberries in their gardens. Store-bought strawberries are predominantly hybrids, and their seeds may not yield desirable results.

For a 100% germination rate, select a strawberry with slightly raised or pop-out seeds. Such seeds are bigger and have all the nutrients from the mother plant necessary to start a new life. You can plant these seeds in containers, raised beds, or hanging pots.

Usually, the most effective method of seed collection is:

  • Take a ripe strawberry and prick the seeds gently using something sharp like a garden knife or a toothpick.
  • Place the seeds on a white sheet of paper and separate the flesh from the seed.
  • Let it dry for the next 3 to 4 days.
  • Don’t use a paper towel if you’re using this method, as the seeds will stick to the paper towel when wet and will be hard to separate after drying.

Step 2. Strawberry Seed Sowing

  • After seed collection, take a medium-sized pot, a container, or a seedling tray with the drainage holes at the bottom. Strawberry seeds are water sensitive. Therefore, holes for water drainage at the bottom of the container are a must for successful growing.
  • Add the multipurpose compost to the container and gently press it down.
  • Sprinkle the strawberry seeds over the multipurpose compost.
  • Slightly cover the seeds with the multipurpose compost.
  • Gently water and make sure not to wash away the seeds.

    Optional: Cover the pot with a cling wrap to retain moisture.

  • Leave the container in the full sun until the seeds germinate.
  • If you feel that the soil is dry, gently spray some water. Never give too much water at once, as you might wash the seeds away.
  • After 7 to 21 days, depending on the conditions, the seeds will germinate, and you’ll see small shoots coming out in the container.
  • Uncover the container if previously covered with cling wrap once the seeds germinate.

Step 3. Transfer of the Strawberry Seedlings

Let’s look at the points below to learn the complete process of replanting the seedlings into individual pots.

  • After the seedlings develop 2 to 3 true leaves, you can transfer them to bigger pots for final planting so that the roots have enough space to grow.
  • Prepare the soil mix for final planting by adding 50% garden soil and 50% multipurpose compost. Mix it well.
  • Take a container with drainage holes at the bottom.
  • Add the soil mix into the container and slightly press it down.
  • Spread the soil mix and make a hole in the center. The hole must be deep and wide enough to hold the roots.
  • Take out the seedlings from the old container.
  • Separate the seedlings. Try to keep the root intact, but don’t worry if some roots get damaged.
  • Place the seedlings into the new containers. The crown should be right at the soil level, but the roots should be well covered. Then gently press its sides to provide support.
  • Water the newly planted strawberries heavily the first day. This will ensure all the large air gaps in the soil after transplanting will fill up with soil mix.
  • The newly planted strawberries might look sad for a couple of days, and old leaves might wilt. However, the crown will produce new leaves, and the plant will spring back to life.

If you want to grow a strawberry from a store-bought plant, just follow the same caring process as the steps below.

Step 4. Aftercare of the New Strawberry Plant

Let’s look at the points below to learn the complete process of strawberry plant care.

  • The new plant should receive 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Temperature around 64 to 77oF (18 to 25oC) is the best for the ideal growth of strawberry plants.
  • Water the plants when the soil seems to be dry.
  • After 4 to 6 weeks of flowering, the fruit will be ready to harvest.
  • Once the fruit becomes red, you can harvest the strawberries.
  • Leaving the ripe fruit on the soil for too long will result in rotting. You can use a layer of straw mulch over the topsoil to prevent ripe fruit from rotting.

How to Grow Strawberry from Runners?

Growing strawberries from seeds, in comparison to growing them from runners, is a relatively straightforward and uncomplicated process. If you intend to grow strawberries from runners, it’s essential to already have established strawberry plants. Alternatively, you can acquire runners from nurseries or garden shops.

For beginners, let’s delve into an explanation of what runners are. Developed strawberry plants have the ability to produce multiple runners that spread across the soil surface. At the end of a runner, you may observe the emergence of tiny roots, indicating the growth of a young plant. This small plant can be nurtured into a fully matured strawberry plant.

Focus on the points below to learn how to grow strawberries from runners.

  • Closely look at your strawberry plants and find the tiny plant connected to the runner.
  • You’ll also notice the roots emerging from that tiny plant.
  • You can plant it in the garden or in a container. If you use the container, fill it with 50% garden soil and 50% multipurpose compost.
  • Replant the roots of that plantlet into the soil mix while still attached to the parent plant.
  • Simply peg the plantlets into the container or soil outside.
  • Ensure that the plantlets are firmly planted in the soil or the container.
  • After 4 to 6 weeks, you’ll see the new leaves growing from the daughter plant.
  • At that point, cut the runner from the parent plant.
  • Now, you can replant it anywhere you want, in the soil or another container.

Pro Tip: New strawberry plants can produce runners in their first year. Runners use many of the plant’s resources, so they should be cut off from where they grow for the first two years to focus their energy on fruit production.

Strawberry Pests and their Control

Birds and pests also want to taste your strawberries. They can be a big headache for your strawberry plants. Let’s discuss what kind of pests usually attack strawberries and how to control them.

Most strawberries can withstand a higher number of pests than you think. But if your strawberry plants are suffering, you can use these steps to control the pests:

  • Slugs are not just pests. They are destroyers. These invaders drill deep holes in the fruit and open the fruit for a snack to other insects. Slugs are more problematic during wet weather. The best way to control this destroyer is to attract slug-loving beneficial creatures like frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles, and hedgehogs.
  • Aphids are the tiny, soft body, sap-sucking, problematic insects of almost every garden. Aphids feed in groups while attaching themselves to the stems, flower buds, or underside of the leaves. Due to the sap-sucking, leaves, stems, and buds start to curl and decolorate. The best way to control the aphids is to attract their natural predators, such as ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps. You can also use neem oil or garlic extract spray to remove aphids naturally.
  • Whiteflies are triangular-shaped small insects with body lengths of 1 mm to 2 mm. They cause stunted growth, yellowing, wilting, and drooping of leaves. The best way to control these pests is to attract their natural predators, such as ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies, and pirate bugs. Mix dishwashing soap to a water gallon and spray on plants at a cooler time of the day.
  • Spittlebugs. You can identify spittlebug infestation if you notice any foamy secretion under the flower bud. The nymphs produce these bubbles and hide in them. While these bugs do little damage to the strawberries, they still feed on the plant juices and ultimately weaken the plant. The easiest way to control them is by using a spray bottle and flushing them off the plant onto the ground. Without the protection of the foam, spittlebugs will quickly dry up.
  • Strawberry Clippers. These are also known as “strawberry bud weevils.” The adults feed on pollen. However, their larvae feed on the flower buds. The females lay a single egg in the flower bud. The female then chews through the pedicel, which holds the flower bud, and drops it onto the ground. The larvae develop by feeding inside the dropped flower bud.
    While the loss of the buds is painful for the growers, research suggests that strawberry plants compensate in fruit size for the damage the clipper makes. So, it’s unclear if it is essential to prevent and control the strawberry clippers.
    If you decide that control is necessary, avoid pesticides. The clippers are most active during the dark. So, the best way is to handpick them in the late evening.  Collect them in the bucket with soapy water.

Strawberry Diseases and their Control

Gray Mold (Botrytis)

Gray Mold (Botrytis) is a fungus that looks like a pale discolored patch on the leaves, stems, and flowers, progressing to a grey, fuzzy growth. Botrytis is a widespread disease that thrives in moist or humid environments. Spores penetrate plants from cuts, infected tissue, or open flowers. The disease will damage fruit growth, and it is the most common disease in strawberry plants. Usually, it appears in the areas near the cap and destroys berries within 48 hours.

Control of Grey Mold

  • Cut out the infected areas to protect the rest of the plant.
  • Ensure ventilation to avoid mold on the fruits.
  • Ensure to keep your plants clean by using straw mulch to avoid any infection and mold.
  • Use fungicide spray, if necessary. Fungicidal sprays should be used properly and must be repeated if the problem still prevails. Only registered and recommended chemicals should be used to eradicate the problem efficiently.

Prevent Grey Mold

  • Gray mold likes to attack injured plants, so avoid that while transplanting.
  • Keep the plants as dry as possible. Water strawberries in the morning, letting them dry before the night. Watering late in the day is not a good idea.
  • Proper air circulation should be provided by pruning and maintaining row to row distance of 24 inches (60 cm) and plant to plant distance of 12 inches (30 cm). Remember to keep the spaces between your plants tidy.
  • Clear all the clutter, such as cuttings and dead leaves.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew can cause a significant problem in strawberry fruit production. It looks like a white powdery spot all over the leaves. The white mildew produces a vast number of spores, which the wind can transport. Disease production is aided by dry air, high humidity, and temperatures between 59 and 80 oF (15 and 27 oC). Powdery mildew spores are usually carried through your garden by air.

Control of Powdery Mildew

  • Powdery mildew can be treated with acid, lime sulfur, and neem oil. In addition, potassium bicarbonate mix will effectively kill powdery mildew on contact.
  • It’s challenging to get rid of the disease once plants are heavily infected. Concentrate on stopping it from spreading to other plants.
  • Remove all affected leaves, roots, and fruit from the plant and dispose of them in the garbage or burn them.
  • Contaminated plants should not be placed into the compost since the disease will remain in the compost and be transmitted by the wind.

Prevent Powdery Mildew

  • Powdery mildew-resistant plants are ideal for your strawberry garden.
  • Powdery mildew thrives in shady areas, so plant in the sunniest spots possible.
  • To further lower relative humidity, prune crowded areas to improve air circulation around your plants.

Strawberry Companion and Enemy Plants

Most plants have companion plants and enemy plants. Companion plants help each other in different ways when planted in proximity. The benefits of companion plants include pest control, habitat for beneficial insects, increased crop productivity, pollination, and many more.

Not all plants like each other, some plants compete for the same resources, which reduce growth and productivity.

Below is the list of plants that could be planted as companions and a list of plants that should be avoided near strawberries.

Strawberry Companions:

  • Onions
  • Thyme
  • Lettuce
  • Beans
  • Sage
  • Chives
  • Spinach
  • Caraway
  • Borage

Strawberry Enemies:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Melons
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Mint

Final Tips

  • Strawberry plants remain productive for three to five years. Keeping the strawberry plants for more than five years is not recommended. It will cause reduced taste and lower fruit production.
  • The preferred soil pH for strawberries is between 5.4 to 6.5, but they will grow outside of this range.
  • Creating a pollinator garden will ensure that each strawberry flower is pollinated.
  • As fruits start to develop, use mulch, ideally straw, underneath the fruit to keep it clean.
  • Netting will be required to protect strawberries from birds.
  • Wire mesh will be required to protect strawberries from squirrels.

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