How to Plant a Strawberry Pot

Strawberry Pot Planted with Sedum

The Spruce / Marie Iannotti

A classic strawberry pot is a tall, upright, urn-shaped terra cotta planter with planting area on top and planting hole openings randomly scattered around the sides of the entire pot. These days, many different materials are used to manufacture strawberry pots, but the design is always the same. Strawberry pots are sometimes referred to as strawberry jars.

As its name suggests, a strawberry pot is often used to grow strawberries, but you can also use them to grow edibles and ornamental plants: low growing, trailing annuals like Moss Rose and perennials like Hens and chicks grow well in strawberry pots. Hens and chicks is a popular choice because they don't require much water and many cultivars can survive the winter in a container. Some gardeners use strawberry pots to grow herbs and leafy salad greens.

Strawberry pots require a planting technique all their own. You don't fill them with soil and insert plants only into the top of the pot; you also have to insert plants into the side planting holes. The planting technique is unique but very simple, and once planted, your strawberry pot will fill out and look great through the growing season.

When to Plant a Strawberry Pot

Strawberry pots are planted at the same time as any outdoor container—typically in the spring once all danger of frost has passed. Because the potting soil in a strawberry pot warms up fairly quickly, you might be able to plant a little earlier than in-ground garden plants. However, be ready to cover your pots or temporarily move them indoors or to a more sheltered location if spring frosts are predicted.

Working With Strawberry Pots

Many styles of strawberry pots are available, and some are constructed with lightweight materials. Plastics have become increasingly popular and some fabric grow bags are being designed with a strawberry pot configuration. Some terra cotta and plastic pots have a lip under each side planting hole, which helps retain soil as the plants become established. However, the lip also makes planting a bit tricky. It's a nice look, but it's not necessary, and any strawberry pot that strikes your fancy will work just fine.

To minimize the messiness of planting, consider placing the strawberry pot in a wheelbarrow. Strawberry pots are messy to fill because soil can very easily tumble out of the side planting holes.. Working in a wheelbarrow prevents you from wasting potting soil and requires less clean-up. The wheelbarrow also makes it easier to rotate the pot, and requires less bending for you.

When purchasing or selecting plants for your strawberry pot, small plants are your best choices. The reason for this is that you must be able to fit the plants into those small side planting holes, and its easier to do when a plant is small or young with a somewhat loose and pliable root system. To add plants to the side planting holes, you can work from the exterior or interior of the pot, like so:

  • From the exterior of the pot, gently push the root system through the hole into the interior of the pot
  • From the interior of the pot, gently guide the foliage through the planting hole until the foliage is fully exposed on the exterior of the pot with the root system remaining inside the pot

To fill your strawberry pot with soil, use a well-draining potting mix suited to your plants. A lightweight mix makes the pot easier to lift and move and will evenly distribute water throughout the pot.

Project Metrics

 Working Time  45 to 60 minutes
 Material Costs  $15 to $75

What You'll Need

Equipment/Tools

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Work or garden gloves
  • Trowel
  • Drill with 1/8- or 1/4-inch twist bit (if you are constructing a watering column)

Materials

  • Strawberry pot
  • General-purpose potting mix
  • Plants
  • Time-released fertilizer
  • 1 piece of 1.5" to 2" diameter PVC pipe; length depends on height of pot (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare a Watering Column (Optional)

    Because the planting holes in a strawberry pot are randomly scattered around the pot, it can be tricky to water all plants adequately—sometimes the plants near the top of the pot are the only plants that receive water, or the plants near the bottom of the pot are sitting in water. To ensure all plants are watered well, you can i insert a porous PVC pipe down the center of the pot.

    To create a watering column, measure the height of your strawberry pot and cut a piece of PVC pipe that is 1 to 2 inches shorter than the height of the pot. Drill a series of 1/8- to 1/4-inch holes into the pipe, spaced randomly about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

    Creating a Watering Pipe Well for a Strawberry Pot
    Creating a Watering Pipe Well

    Marie iannotti

  2. Prepare the Potting Mix

    Blend a timed-release fertilizer with a good quality standard potting mix. Most pots will hold about four quarts of potting mix, but different-sized pots take different amounts. The only way to gauge how much soil you'll need is to fill the pot and then dump it into a wheelbarrow or other container. Then, blend in slow-release fertilizer based on the quantity of soil and the recommended amounts on the fertilizer packaging.

    Adding Timed Release Fertilizer to Your Strawberry Pot
    Adding Timed Release Fertilizer

    Marie iannotti

    Gardening Tip

    It can be tempting to fill a strawberry pot with ordinary garden soil, but don't do it. Potting mix contains water-retaining materials such as peat moss or perlite and is porous enough to allow water to easily penetrate through the entire pot. Garden soil is too dense for pots, and it might contain soil pathogens that can harm your plants.

  3. Moisten the Potting Mix

    Dampen the potting soil before filling the pot. Doing so makes the potting soil easier to work with because there will be less dust, and the moisture will prevent the soil from tumbling out of the side planting holes. Thoroughly blend the soil with your hands so that it is uniformly damp and the fertilizer is evenly distributed.

    Mix the Fertilizer and Water into the Potting Mix
    Mix the Fertilizer and Water into the Potting Mix

    Marie Iannotti

  4. Begin Filling the Pot with Soil

    Begin filling the pot from the bottom up to the level of the first planting holes you encounter. Use your hands to lightly tamp down the soil.

    If you created a watering column, insert the PVC pipe into the center of the pot and press it into the soil so that it's anchored in place. Stuff a piece of paper or paper towel into the top of the pipe to prevent potting soil from falling into it.

    Inserting the Watering Pipe into the Strawberry Pot
    Inserting the Watering Pipe into the Strawberry Pot

    Marie iannotti

  5. Begin Planting

    To place each plant into its planting hole, remove it from its container, and gently compress and stretch the root ball. Be careful not to damage the root system; gently massage the roots into a more tubular shape. It's okay if some soil is dislodged from the root system.

    To add plants to the side planting holes, you can work from the exterior or interior of the pot, like so:

    • From the exterior of the pot, gently push the root system through the hole into the interior of the pot
    • From the interior of the pot, gently guide the foliage through the planting hole until the foliage is fully exposed on the exterior of the pot with the root system remaining inside the pot
    Mold the Root Ball to Fit in the Planting Holes
    Mold the Root Ball to Fit in the Planting Holes

    Marie Iannotti

  6. Continue Filling the Pot with Soil and Plants

    Continue adding potting soil up to the next level of planting holes. As you reach each level of planting holes, press gently to firm up the soil and insert your plants. Straighten the watering column pipe if it has tilted. Continue in this fashion until you reach the top of the pot..

    Finally, add the last layer of potting soil and add plants to the top of the strawberry pot, around the watering pipe. Plants with an upright growth habit work well for the top of the pot because they camouflage the pipe and won't trail down over the other plants.

    Planting a Strawberry Pot
    Planting a Strawberry Pot

    Marie iannotti

  7. Water the Plants

    It's time to give your plants their first drink of water.

    • If you constructed a watering column, apply water directly into the PVC pipe. The pipe will fill up and drain quickly, so fill it a couple of times to make sure water is dispersed evenly.
    • If you did not construct a watering column, use a watering can or garden hose to gently apply water to the top of the pot as well as to the side planting holes. Apply water until you see it draining from the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.

    Repeat these watering routines whenever the soil is dry to the touch.

    A terra cotta strawberry pot can quickly become dry because terra cotta wicks away moisture. During hot, dry weather it might be necessary to water the strawberry pot daily or perhaps twice a day. On very hot days, it might be helpful to trickle water down the outside of the pot to make sure water reaches soil in the side planting holes

    Watering Your Planted Strawberry Pot
    Watering Your Planted Strawberry Pot

    Marie Iannotti

  8. Maintain the Plants

    You now have a beautifully-planted strawberry pot. Within a few days, your plants will perk up and begin to grow toward the sun. Keep the plants watered and fed, turn the pot every few days so that all plants receive an equal amount of sunlight, and deadhead faded blooms and harvest edibles to keep your strawberry pot looking good growing healthy plants.

    Your Finished Strawberry Pot
    Your Finished Strawberry Pot

    Marie Iannotti

    Gardening Tip

    If you have perennial plants and a potting material that tolerates freezing and thawing, you can leave your pot outdoors for the winter. In colder climates (USDA Zones 5 and lower) you must provide some protection, to prevent plant roots from freezing. If you empty your pot at the end of the season, don't forget to store the watering pipe with the pot to reuse next year.

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Article Sources
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  1. Growing Strawberries in the Home Garden. University of Minnesota Extension