How to Grow Strawberries:
An Edible Garden Treat

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Red berries, white flowers, glossy leaves -- knowing how to grow strawberries gives you access to one of the most useful and beautiful plants in your edible landscape.

Facts about strawberries:

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Blooming strawberry flower and fruit
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Plant size: up to six inches tall, main plant 12 inches across. Propagates with runners.
  • Edible parts: Fruit, flowers, leaves
  • Fruit color: Red (one variety has pale pink fruit)
  • Flower color(s): White with yellow centers; some varieties pink
  • Leaf color(s): Dark green, turn orange-red in the fall
  • Leaf shape: round with serrated edges
  • USDA zones: 1-13
  • Prefers: full sun or partial shade, moist soil
  • Tolerates: full shade, mild drought, extreme cold
  • Dislikes: soggy soil, extreme drought
  • Uses: Flowering ground cover, container gardening, hanging strawberry pots, children's gardens, borders, raised strawberry bed

Do you already know how to grow strawberries? Show off your strawberry garden here!

How to grow strawberries: selecting the right plant

Strawberry plants come in everbearing and "June bearing" types. June bearing strawberries give one crop sometime in June. Of course, this name was given by people in the northern hemisphere: June bearing strawberries will grow in spring and bear fruit around December in the southern hemisphere (which is fun for Christmas and other winter festivals).

This "all at once" fruiting pattern is useful if you need all your strawberries to mature at the same time for canning or making jam. If you don't want to a lot of strawberries all at once, choose an everbearing type.

You can grow strawberries year-round, but the best time to plant strawberries is in the spring (for harsh winters: say, zones 1-5 -- this gives the plants time to mature before winter) and in the early fall (for those with milder winters).

I haven't had much luck growing strawberries from seeds ... the easiest way is to buy strawberry plants. Most nurseries that sell fruit plants will have strawberry plants for sale.

Need advice on which strawberry to grow? Click here.

Strawberry flowers and leaves

Specifics on how to grow strawberries

Set plants 18 inches apart; be careful not to put dirt over the area where the stems meet (this is called the "crown"). If your soil has poor drainage, mound the soil up first before planting.

If you're new to growing strawberries and/or have limited space, you might try one of the many strawberry pots on the market, or a hanging strawberry basket.

Once the plants mature, they will send out runners with new little plants on them. The more runners the plant sends out, the fewer strawberries it makes, so if you want more strawberries, clip these runners off and plant the baby strawberry plants in other places. These babies will make strawberries and send out runners as well. Let them grow and fill in the area as a ground cover if you like, cutting the runners if you don't get as many strawberries as you like.

Sometimes one of the original plants will die. Put one of the babies in its place. Add compost to the hole before planting.

Strawberry plants don't need much winter protection once established, but new plants should be protected from frost, especially if planted in the autumn.

Need more advice on how to grow strawberries? Click here.

How to grow strawberries safely and pest-free

Keep runners and fruit off of walkways, as they can be slippery when stepped on.

Use mulch to keep down weeds. In wet areas, snails and slugs can be a nuisance (they love strawberries as much as you do!). If you’re finding moist holes in your strawberries from underneath it’s probably slugs.

Don't use poison! Diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the plants deters them (get the kind for gardens, not for pools). Sprinkle a generous amount -- when slugs crawl over it, the sharp edges on the diatomaceous earth particles hurt them, so they stay away. The use of rough rock as mulch helps too.

Another trick is to place a bowl in your garden with an inch of beer in the bottom in it and bury it deep enough so a curious cat won’t tip it over. Snails and slugs love beer, and will climb in and literally drink themselves to death!

Birds may peck at your strawberries -- these marks are dry and on the upper side of the strawberry. If you have problems with this you can buy strawberry netting to cover your plants when the strawberries are ripening, or put strawberry sized rocks painted red around your plants to fool the birds into thinking your strawberries aren't good to eat.
It's easy to learn how to grow strawberries like these

You can eat your strawberries fresh, dry or freeze strawberries, or use them in jam, preserves, and desserts.

The dried leaves make a tasty tea -- just put them in a tea ball and steep in hot water.

Do you grow strawberries? Share your best strawberry recipes here!

To talk more about how to grow strawberries in your edible landscape, join the Tasteful Landscape community, a free email list of people who love edible landscaping as much as you do. Just fill out the form below and follow the instructions:

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