Any type of strawberry will produce fruits in containers. June bearing strawberries will give you one main crop in early summer. Both day neutral and ever-bearing strawberries will give you a longer season than June bearing varieties. Day-neutral plants produce berries sporadically throughout the summer and ever-bearing strawberries will give you two to three harvests each season. However ever-bearing strawberries are not as hardy as the day-neutral varieties and will need protection to make it through cold winters.
3 Great Reasons to Grow Strawberries in Containers
- Space: Strawberries are a compact plant and even gardeners with limited space can have a few pots at hand.
- Convenience: You can have pots of strawberries close to your kitchen or outdoor seating area.
- Pest control: Growing strawberries plants off the ground will help cut down pest, bacterial, and fungal disease problems.
What Type of Containers Are Best for Growing Strawberries
Whether it is a strawberry jar, a hanging basket, or a planter, you will want a container with good drainage; either several drainage holes at the bottom of the container or multiple holes throughout the container, as with a strawberry pot.
Strawberries have a relatively small root ball and can be grown in containers as small as 10-12 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep. However, the smaller the container, the more frequently you will need to water.
Synthetic pots and light colored pots will keep the roots cooler than dark colors and natural materials that conduct heat, such as clay and metal.
How to Grow Strawberries in Containers
- Plants: You can start strawberries from either bare-root crowns or seedlings, but seedlings in small 3 to 4-inch pots will establish themselves in containers faster than bare-root crowns.
- Soil: Use a loose, loamy potting mix that will hold water, but drain away any excess.
- Spacing: Strawberry plants will spread out about 2 ft. in every direction. Small containers will need only one to two plants, but you can fill all the openings in a strawberry jar.
- Planting: Strawberries should be planted with their crown just above the soil surface. Make a small mound in the potting mix and spread the roots out over the mound. Then cover the roots, up to the crown, with the mix and water well. Add more potting mix if needed, after the initial planting mix settles.
- Site: Make sure your containers will receive at least six to eight hours of sun so that you will get plenty of flowers and fruits. If the sunlight is coming from only one direction, rotate the container every three to four days, if possible. Just because your strawberries are in pots does not mean pests can't reach them. Insects, birds and climbing creatures will still be attracted to your plants, so keep them protected with netting or fencing, if necessary.
Caring for Container Grown Strawberries
- Water: Water your strawberries whenever the soil feels dry about an inch below the surface. You don't want the plants to be sitting in water or soggy soil, but you don't want them to remain dry for days and start to wilt, especially while the fruits are forming. The soil in containers dries out faster than soil on the ground. Long periods of hot, dry weather may require daily watering and as the plants grow more roots, they will need more frequent watering.
- Feeding: All container plants benefit from some supplemental feeding. Feed your strawberries every three to four weeks with a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorous.
- Winter protection: Strawberries produce best if they are allowed to go dormant in the winter. However, the roots may freeze in colder areas and some containers will crack if left out in freezing temperatures. You can move your containers into an unheated garage or under a deck, for the season. Water only when the soil becomes excessively dry. You may also be able to mulch up and around the container and leave it in place.
One Final Tip
Even with the best care, strawberries are short-lived perennials and your plants will need to be replaced about every three years. If you really want to make growing container strawberries easy, grow them in containers as annuals. If you do not intend to keep them for multiple years, you do not need to do any pinching of the flowers. You can let the plant's flower and fruit as much as they can and just replace them with new plants next season.