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How to Grow Strawberries Just in Time for Spring

closeup of small red strawberries growing on green vines surrounded by brown stems and green leaves

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The only thing better than snacking on sweet, juicy strawberries is growing a crop of these ruby-red jewels in your own backyard. Best of all, growing strawberries is easy—and depending on the variety of strawberries you use, you can have fruit all the way through summer.

Strawberries are perennials, and they will regrow each spring to bear more fruit for up to five years. If you've got a sunny spot in your yard with fertile, well-drained soil that you don't mind devoting to strawberries for several seasons, it's best to plant them in the ground or in raised beds. You can also grow delicious strawberries in strawberry pots, towers, pyramids, or other containers on your porch, patio, or fire escape.

Here's how to grow your own strawberries at home.

Meet the Expert

Alexandra Jones is a certified master gardener in Philadelphia. As an indoor and outdoor gardener, Jones is an author in topics like gardening, climate, urban farming, and sustainability.

  • Working time: 1-2 hours
  • Total time: 1-2 hours
  • Skill level: Beginner

When to Plant Strawberries

You can plant strawberries in spring or fall, but the best time to plant depends on your growing zone. In cooler climates (zones 3 through 6), it's best to plant strawberries in the spring so they're well-rooted by the time harsh winter temperatures come around. In zones 7 through 11, where climates are milder, you can plant strawberries as early as midwinter all the way through April.

strawberry seedlings with leaves and roots being held by person with yellow gardening gloves in a garden

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Tools and Supplies You Will Need

Before you begin, gather the following materials:

  • Strawberry plants (plugs, potted plants, or bare root plants)
  • Strawberry pot, strawberry tower, or other plant pot at least eight inches in diameter and six inches deep (if planting in containers)
  • Trowel or hand rake
  • Gardening gloves (optional)

Bare Root Strawberries Versus Strawberry Plants

There are a few different ways strawberry plants are sold by nurseries and online stores. The most affordable types are bare root strawberry plants. These are sold without soil in a dormant state, meaning they won't have any leaves, and are typically kept refrigerated or frozen by the seller. Bare root strawberry plants should be planted as soon as you bring them home and can be planted earlier than strawberry plug plants.

Strawberry plants, on the other hand, should be planted in spring after danger of frost has passed. They're actively growing and come planted in soil or another growing medium, just like other seedlings. They tend to have a better survival rate and grow more vigorously than bare root strawberry plants. You may find them growing as plugs (seedlings growing in a small amount of soil) or as potted plants.

blue ceramic strawberry pot with green leavves and green strawberries growing out of holes in backyard garden

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Choose the Right Variety of Strawberries

The timing and duration of your strawberry harvest depend on which type of strawberries you choose. June-bearing strawberry varieties like Chandler, Allstar, and Earliglow will bear their fruit all at once over a few weeks (note that in warmer climates, fruiting may happen earlier in the season than June).

Ever-bearing strawberry varieties, like Albion and Seascape, produce a flush of fruit in the spring and another in the fall. A subgroup of ever-bearing strawberries called day-neutral strawberries produce spring and fall flushes, but they produce fruit throughout the season.

If you like to enjoy strawberry season to the fullest in late spring or early summer, June-bearing varieties are the way to go. If you prefer to have a smaller flush in the spring and then enjoy another in the fall, go for ever-bearing varieties.

If you'd like to have smaller amounts all summer long, go for day-neutral varieties. Note that day-neutral strawberry plants tend to have smaller fruits than other varieties, but they also tend to grow better in containers than other types.

The strawberry variety you choose to plant will also affect when you can harvest. It's best for the overall vigor of June-bearing strawberry plants if you pinch off all flowers in the first growing season to help the plants establish. However, ever-bearing varieties should be pinched off early in the first season, but you can harvest flushes of fruit that grow in the fall.

overhead view of black plastic garden pot filled with soil and strawberry seedlings. a white person's hand holds a seedling with white and yellow flowers growing from it

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Step 1: Prepare the Soil

Prepare the soil by mixing in a balanced fertilizer or organic compost to boost nitrogen levels. Dig a hole in the soil or container large enough for the roots of each plant to spread out and down. Space plants 12 to 15 inches apart if planting in the ground. If using containers, you can fit up to four plants in a 12-inch diameter pot.

Step 2: Plant the Strawberries

Place the strawberry plant in the hole so that middle of each plant's crown (the section where the stems and roots come together) is just above the soil line, with the top of the roots just below the surface of the soil. If using potted plants or plugs, gently use your fingers to remove soil from the roots and loosen them up before planting.

Step 3: Water the Strawberry Plants

Pat the soil gently around the base of the plants to keep them in place. Water the soil well after planting.

Step 4: Mulch the Plants

After planting, mulch in-ground strawberries with an organic mulch like straw, pine needles, shredded leaves, or compost to keep weeds down and maintain soil temperature and moisture. Take care not to cover the crowns with mulch, which can cause root rot and kill the plants. Strawberry plants grown in containers don't need to be mulched.

Step 5: Care for Your Strawberry Plants

Water the plants regularly to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Apply fertilizer four to six weeks after planting and again in late summer if plants are not thriving. Take care not to fertilize second-year plants in the spring, as this can negatively affect the texture and quality of the fruit.