How To Plant Strawberry Roots

Even in our zone 2 garden, strawberries are one fruit we can easily grow. In 2020, my husband and I planted 1500 bare-root strawberry plants.

We tilled up our lawn (mistake number one), made rows, and planted. I ordered the plants from a large nursery in Alberta, but we had to drive a considerable distance to get them. We made our share of mistakes, so you don’t have to.

We had planted strawberry roots before, with great success.

In 2016 I planted 75 June Bearing strawberry plants, and 25 Everbearing strawberry plants. These were just to feed our family. After realizing how much I enjoyed working in the garden, we decided to plant a lot.

Strawberries are a hot item no matter where you live, especially ones that taste as sweet and juicy as the ones from your home garden.

Selling strawberries on the side seemed like an added bonus to making money on our small homestead.

Strawberries aren’t hard to keep alive, but they need a lot of care. Weeding is the biggest time issue we have at the moment.

Our acre of strawberry plants takes 7 hours of continuous weeding every two weeks. That’s quite a bit. That doesn’t include the time spent picking the berries.

But hopefully, it will all be worth it.

These tips on how to plant strawberry roots will help you get bushels of strawberries into your diet.

I usually freeze a lot of strawberries, some with sugar, and some just whole for smoothies.

Types of Strawberries

Before buying your plants, you want to consider what type of strawberries you want in your garden.

There are three types, Everbearing, June bearing, and Day Neutral. It also depends on what zone you live in, and which ones will do best in your area. In Zone 2, June Bearing and Everbearing strawberries are very popular.

Fruit production and growth depend on the length of the day, temperature, and climate. You cannot tell the difference between the plants just by looking at them.

How they set fruit is what sets them apart.

Ever Bearing

Everbearing strawberry plants start producing buds when the day length is about 12 hours long.

For us, that means we often get a harvest in the early summertime, usually by the end of June. Here in northern Alberta, Everbearing strawberries will produce several weeks before June Bearing.

Everbearing are more suited to cool to mild climates, which is what we have. They will produce another crop in late summer, or early fall.

This is one reason to plant not only June Bearing but also Everbearing.

This gives you strawberries all summer long, instead of just one main crop. Day Neutrals are often confused with everbearing because the name implies that Everbearing will produce all summer long. In reality, they do not.

True everbearing strawberry plants will produce two crops, one in early summer and one in late summer.

We’ve had strawberries that got touched with an early frost and still survived.

They were all the sweeter because of it, so don’t let a short growing season keep you from planting overbearing strawberries.

Several popular varieties of everbearing strawberries are:

Seascape

Albion

Everest

blooming strawberry plants

June-Bearing Strawberries

June bearing strawberry plants are very popular.ar because of their production. They produce a lot of berries in a short amount of time. This was why we choose this variety when planting 1500 plants.

I had no interest in picking strawberries all summer long.

A busy three weeks of picking strawberries is plenty. But, by planting a mix of different varieties, you can have a lot of selection and strawberries throughout the whole summer.

More heat tolerant than other varieties, June-bearing plants do better in climates with hot summers. We’ve found that hot summers produce sweeter strawberries.

After they are done producing fruit, June-bearing plants put all their energy into producing runners.

June Bearing strawberries will usually produce a big crop in late June, to early July. A late spring will often push back strawberry production by a week or two.

At our place, we expect strawberries no earlier than the first week of July.

Last fall we had a mild fall with no killing frosts. Because of this, the June-bearing varieties actually produced some strawberries in October still! That usually never happens, but it is dependent on the weather.

Common varieties of June Bearing strawberries are:

Honeoye

Kent

Allstar

Jewel

Day-Neutral Strawberries

Day-neutral varieties are a type of everbearing strawberry (they are often confused as the same) that are often planted as annuals. they may be held over for a second year, but they don’t produce runners as profusely as June-bearing types.

They will continue to fruit as long as the weather holds, and have a firmer fruit than June Bearing ones.

Common types of Day Neutral strawberries are:

Tristar

Tribute

Whichever type you choose, make sure to buy healthy plants. Local garden centers usually sell strawberry plants in spring, and you can also buy them at Seed and Bulb Suppliers.

Choosing Your Planting Site

You want to choose and prep your planting site before you buy your plants. Strawberries do best in full sun, although they can tolerate some shade.

Prep the Soil

Are you planting into a raised bed, tilling a new garden bed, or laying down compost? Whichever planting site you intend to make, be sure to prep the site before planting.

Strawberry plants also do well in a hanging basket.

Add plenty of organic matter to your soil. The best type of soil for strawberries is a sandy loam, with at least 3% of organic matter. Strawberries thrive in a sandier soil that has a lower content of nitrogen, as too-rich soil will grow a lot of rich dark leaves but fewer berries. 

Strawberries like lighter soil, but they still need nitrogen to produce large berries. Read here for more info on the best type of soil for strawberries.

You want to plant your strawberry plants in a weed-free bed, as much as possible. Grass can overtake a strawberry bed rather quickly, so make sure to remove any grassroots.

Laying a thick layer of straw mulch helps immensely with weed control.

Another option for a strawberry bed is laying down drip irrigation, followed by black plastic. This does prevent new strawberry plants from rooting though, which is why we have not done it this way yet.

A lot of commercial growers do this, as they plant day-neutral verities every year.

Home gardeners will usually plant them in the soil with a thick layer of straw mulch. This also helps to prevent winterkill from extra cold winters.

Using wood chips is also an option as a mulch, but there is a risk of it being a breeding ground for fungal diseases.

straw mulch over strawberry plants

When To Plant Strawberry Roots

Strawberry planting is usually done in the springtime, as well as in early fall. The best time to plant bare-root strawberry plants is in early spring.

This gives your plants plenty of time to grow a strong root system. While some recommend pinching off the blossoms of first-year strawberry plants, I don’t.

Given several months to grow, strawberry plants are capable of producing some berries in the first year, while growing strong roots.

They won’t produce a lot of berries the first year. The third-year is usually the most productive, and given good care, they can continue producing for up to 7 years.

How to Plant Strawberry Roots

Preparing Bare-Root Strawberry Plants

When you buy your strawberry plants, place them in a shallow dish with water.

You want to rehydrate bare-root plants before you plant them. You can leave them in there overnight, or just give them a quick five-minute soak. Either works.

How deep to plant Strawberries

The most important step in planting bare root strawberries is not planting them too deep.

Planting strawberry crowns too deeply can cause crown rot, which will kill your plant. Plant in a small hole, about 12-18 inches apart. Make a hole with a small shovel.

Carefully place the root of the plant into the hole.

Cover with soil up til the crown of the plant, leaving the crown exposed. Pack down the soil gently around the plant. Water generously and you’re done! Simple as that.

How Far Apart to Plant Strawberry Roots

A lot of home gardeners make the mistake of overcrowding plants. Strawberry plants produce new plants every year, which are called runners.

These daughter plants grow off the parent plant. They will root on the soil surface and produce berries the following year.

Plant your strawberry roots about 12-18 inches apart to allow space for the young parent plant and its runners to grow.

Will bare-root strawberry plants produce the first year?

If you do not pick off the blossoms of first-year strawberry plants, they will produce the first year. It will not be a lot, but you should still get a handful of berries. The second-year is where they really start producing well.

Caring For Strawberry Plants

A little bit of care and love can help strawberry plants produce bountifully.

Watering

Strawberries need about an inch of water every week.

They like a lot of water during fruit-bearing season, but too much can cause fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. In very hot weather, water them twice a week.

After they are done with fruit production, I usually don’t water them. If you live in a very dry climate, make sure to water them weekly.

Weeding

Weeds are inevitable, and strawberry plants don’t do very well with weed competition. While some weeds won’t prevent strawberry growth, weeds can overtake a strawberry bed very quickly.

For best results, weed your strawberry patch once a week.

Training Runners

Your plants will produce runners, which are new plants that will produce next year.

Guiding these weekly will keep your bed neat and clean without looking like an out-of-control jungle.

I gently guide the runners into the middle of the row. This way they fasten themselves on the soil over there instead of in my walk space.

Harvesting

Harvest when they are ripe!

Harvesting will happen throughout the summer for some varieties, and for others only in June and July. For some varieties, this is once every three days, and for some, it’s not as often.

Unwashed Strawberries will keep for a week in the refrigerator, but washed strawberries need to be eaten or frozen as soon as possible.

Protecting for the Winter

Proper winter protection is crucial to prevent strawberry plants from being killed by cold weather. Caring for your strawberry plants properly at the end of the season will help them make it through the winter.

Our strawberry field is thriving at the moment. There are many blossoms that are promising a bountiful harvest.

Knowing how to plant strawberry roots properly will help ensure you have a successful strawberry harvest. We love fresh strawberries around here. Fresh strawberries, a splash of cream, and a pinch of stevia make for a delicious and healthy dessert.

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