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.
Reasons to Grow Strawberries in Containers
Strawberries are a great choice for container growing for a few primary reasons:
- 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 strawberry plants off the ground will help cut down pest, bacterial, and fungal disease problems.
Type of Containers 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 to 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.
Tools and Supplies You Will Need
- Strawberry crowns or seedlings
- Planting container
- Potting mix
- Watering can
- Liquid fertilizer
Prepare the Plants
You can start strawberries from either bare-root crowns or seedlings, but seedlings started in small 3- to 4-inch pots will establish themselves in containers faster than bare-root crowns. Strawberry plants will spread out about 2 feet in every direction. Small containers will need only one to two plants, but you can fill all the openings in a strawberry jar.
Plant the Strawberries
Plant the strawberry plants so their crowns are just above the soil surface. Make a small mound in the potting mix and spread out the roots over the mound. Then, cover the roots up to the crown with the potting mix, and water the soil well. Add more potting mix, as needed, after the cover of mix settles from watering.
Place the Container
Set the pot(s) in a location that receives at least six to eight hours of sun each day to ensure plenty of flowers and fruits. If the sunlight is coming from only one direction, rotate the container every three to four days, if possible. Also make sure the plants are protected: Just because the 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.
Water the Plants
Water your strawberries whenever the soil feels dry about 1 inch below the surface. You don't want the plants to be sitting in water or soggy soil, but you also 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 necessitate daily watering, and, as the plants grow more roots, they will need more frequent watering.
Feeding Your Strawberries
All container plants benefit from some supplemental feeding. Feed your strawberries every three to four weeks with a liquid fertilizer that is high in phosphorous.
Provide 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.
When to Replace Strawberries in Pots
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 plants flower and fruit as much as they can and just replace them with new plants the next season.