How to Plant a Strawberry Pot
Strawberry pots make wonderful container gardens. You can grow an entire crop of one plant, say strawberries, or you can plant a mini-garden. Hens and Chicks are a popular choice for strawberry pots, because they don't require a lot of water and many can survive the winter in containers.
Strawberry pots require a planting technique all their own. You can't just fill them with soil and stick some plants in the top. However, the planting technique is very simple, and once planted, your strawberry pot will just get better looking throughout the season.
The following step-by-step will demonstrate how to plant an herb garden strawberry pot, but the basic procedure can be used no matter what you're planting.
Here's what you'll need:
There are many styles of strawberry pots and, thankfully, some wonderful new lightweight materials. Some traditional terra cotta pots have a lip under each potting hole, which helps greatly in keeping the soil in the pot, as the plants become established. However, the lip also makes planting more difficult. 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, it helps to put these containers together in a wheelbarrow. Strawberry pots can be messy to fill since there are so many openings on the sides for the soil to pour out of. Working in a wheelbarrow prevents you from wasting soil. It also makes it easier to turn the pot around, and you need to do less bending.
A word about plants for a strawberry pot: start small. You are going to have to get them through those little planting holes. They can go through by the root end or the foliage end, but either way, the smaller the plant, the less damage to it.
Use a well-draining potting mix suited to your plants. A lightweight mix will make your pot easier to lift and move, and a well-drained mix will help distribute water throughout the pot.
Make Watering Your Strawberry Pot Easier
Because the plants in a strawberry pot are planted one on top of the other, it can be tricky to water the whole pot. Either only the top plants get watered, or the bottom plants are left sitting in water. Don't try to get around this by watering each opening; you'll just wash away the soil.
The best method for ensuring the entire pot of plants gets watered well is to insert a pipe into the center of the pot while planting. This is listed as optional, but it will make watering much easier and more efficient in the long run.
To create a watering pipe, measure the length of your strawberry pot and then cut a piece of PVC piping 1-2 inches shorter. A pipe about 1 1/2 inches in diameter works well for most size pots.
Next drill a series of 1/8 to 1/4 inch holes into the PVC pipe, using your hand drill. Space them randomly around the pipe, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
Adding Timed Release Fertilizer
At this point, you can add a timed-release fertilizer to your potting soil. Most pots will hold about four quarts of potting soil, but different pots take different amounts of soil, and the only way to gauge how much you'll need is to fill your pot with the soil. Then toss the soil into your wheelbarrow and mix in the recommended amount of fertilizer pellets.
One Final Step Before Planting
Dampen your potting soil before planting. This will make the potting soil easier to work with, because there will be less dust, and it will help keep it from falling out the potting holes. With your plants, watering pipe, and soil prepared, you are ready to start planting your strawberry pot.
Positioning the Watering Pipe
Begin planting your strawberry pot by filling the bottom of the pot with potting mix, up to the level of the first planting holes. At this point, insert your PVC pipe into the center of the pot and press it into the soil lightly, so that it's anchored. Stuff a piece of paper or paper towel into the top opening of the pipe, to prevent soil from falling into it as you plant.
Getting the Plants Into Those Tiny Planting Holes
To get your plants into the planting holes, you're going to need to squeeze or stretch the root ball. Try not to rip off or damage the roots. Instead, gently massage the root ball into a more tubular shape. It's okay if the soil falls off, but try not to tear off roots.
It's usually easier to plant from the outside of the pot in, inserting the roots through the planting hole and grabbing them inside the pot. However, if your plants are small enough and have a large root ball, you may opt to feed the foliage through from the inside of the pot.
Completing the Strawberry Pot
Plant all the lower holes first and then add soil to the next level of planting holes, firming the soil gently with your hands and positioning the watering pipe if it gets moved. Keep going in this fashion until you fill all the planting holes.
Finally, add some plants to the top of the strawberry pot, around the watering pipe. Upright plants work well here, since the camouflage the pipe and they won't trail down over the other plants.
Now You're Glad You Used the Watering Pipe
Now you can give your plants their first drink of water. Water directly into the watering pipe. It will fill quickly, and it will drain quickly, so you'll need to fill it a couple of times. You can also water the soil around the pipe and on really hot days, it's nice to run some water over the plants themselves.
Enjoying Your Pot for the Rest of the Season
And that's it. You have a beautifully planted strawberry pot. Within a few days, the plants will start to perk up and begin to grow toward the sun. Keep your pot watered and deadheaded or harvested, and that's all it should need for the entire growing season.
If you have perennial plants and a potting material that can take freezing and thawing, you can leave your pot outdoors for the winter. Colder climates (USDA Zones 5 and lower) will need to provide some protection, to keep the plant roots from freezing.
If you are going to empty your pot at the end of the season, don't forget to store the watering pipe with the pot, to reuse next year.