Image shows Dobies Malling Centenary strawberries with a close-up on 7 bright-red fruits against dark green leaves

Quintessentially English, fragrant and sweet, strawberries are delicious eaten fresh from the plant, still warm from the summer sun. Strawberry plants are easy to grow and low-maintenance, so suitable for growers of all abilities. Great for the garden, patio pots, window boxes or hanging baskets, grow a healthy harvest in any size of outside space.

When is the best time to plant strawberries?

Plant strawberries before or after the growing season, in spring or autumn

Your plants will need time to establish before flowering and fruiting. Potted plants should be planted as soon as possible following delivery in the spring.

Bare root plants can be planted in either in mid-spring or later summer/early autumn, before the first frosts. Planting in August and September generally gives plants the most time to establish before flowering the following year.

What are bare root strawberry plants?

Bare root strawberries are delivered without soil

Bare roots are a cost-effective way to buy strawberry plants. Supplied as bundles of dormant plants with long roots and little foliage or soil, they can be planted in autumn or spring.

How to plant strawberries in the ground

Strawberries benefit from protection from slugs and snails

For the best crops, plant strawberries in fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic soil in full sun. Strawberries will tolerate some shade but choose Alpine varieties for the best crops in light shaded areas of the garden.

Important: to avoid verticillium wilt, strawberries should not be planted in ground where tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes or chrysanthemums have previously been grown.

Bare root plants:

  • Plant approx. 30-45cm apart (depending on variety)
  • The soil should be well-prepared
  • Spread out the roots and cover with soil so that they’re only just buried
  • Avoid planting them too deeply as this may cause them to rot
  • Firm down the soil
  • Water well for at least the first few weeks

Potted plants:

  • Plant as soon as possible following delivery, in late spring
  • Position plants every 45cm in rows spaced at 75cm
  • Water-logging can be problematic in winter, so create a raised ridge of soil to plant your strawberries on
  • Avoid planting them too deeply as this may cause them to rot
  • Firm down the soil
  • Water well for at least the first few weeks

How to grow strawberries in containers

Strawberry plants are a great choice for containers and hanging baskets
  • Choose a container, hanging basket of window box that’s deep enough for the roots to establish
  • Fill with peat-free multi-purpose compost or soil-based compost
  • Position plants 45cm apart
  • Avoid planting them too deeply as this may cause them to rot
  • Firm down the soil
  • Water well for at least the first few weeks
  • Feed plants every two weeks during the growing season

How to care for strawberry plants

Strawberry fruit supports hold fruit away from the ground
  • Feed container-grown plants every two weeks during the growing season
  • From early summer, remove any runners as these weaken plant vigour
  • Protect developing fruit from pests:
    • Spread straw around each plant to protect the fruits from rain splash 
  • Position a net over plants helps prevent crop damage by birds – check regularly to make sure no animals or birds have become trapped
  • Water plants regularly while they’re establishing and especially during dry spells
  • Avoid watering the leaves as this encourages fungal attack

What to do when your strawberries have finished fruiting 

Once you’ve harvested the last of your fruits, it’s time to tidy up and prepare your plants for the winter and the following year. Strawberry plants are very hardy, happily surviving all but the very coldest winters.

  • Remove netting and straw to improve air flow and sunlight to the plant’s crown
    • This also enables garden birds to remove any pests
  • Cut off dead and dying leaves
  • Mulch strawberry plants with well-rotted manure in spring
  • Feed ground-grown strawberries with a high-potassium plant food – tomato feed is ideal – early in the spring
  • Late frosts can damage strawberry flowers, so protect plants with a covering of horticultural fleece
  • Strawberry plants will continue to fruit each year but the crop will become reduced. It is advisable to completely replace strawberry plants every 3 years

Now you know how to grow strawberry plants!

Easy and rewarding to grow, regardless of the size of your outside space, start growing homegrown strawberries for a super-sweet harvest this summer. Fancy growing other fruits? Check out how to grow berries and currants in our blog.

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