Strawberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow in the home garden, and you can grow strawberries in pots, containers, or even window boxes if you don't have a lot of space. Strawberries generally don't mind growing in pots, and some people even plant them in hanging baskets and hang them from their porch the way other people hang fuchsias or ferns during the summer months. As long as you have full sun and are willing to water your containers, you can grow strawberries in many different kinds of pots.
Growing Strawberries in Pots, Containers and Window Boxes
Strawberries don't mind cramped spaces and will happily grow in many different types of pots or containers. The important thing to keep in mind is strawberries grown in containers are treated as annual plants rather than perennial plants. In a typical home garden, strawberries planted in beds in the ground remain productive for approximately three to four years, depending on their care, maintenance, and the variety chosen. Pots and containers lack the insulating qualities of the ground and roots may freeze during the winter months. You can take steps to winterize strawberries, but know you may need to plant them each year. Thankfully, strawberry plants are inexpensive and a small pot or two of strawberry plants will only set you back a few dollars.
Selecting Varieties for Pots
There are many different strawberries to choose among at the garden center. The best types of strawberries for pots are those marked "Alpine" and "Ever-Bearing." Alpines have smaller fruits than other types but are tough, hardy plants. Unlike June bearing strawberries that produce a large crop of berries during June and then none the rest of the summer, ever-bearing types produce smaller crops of fruit continuously over the summer months. Both are available nationwide at nurseries, garden centers, large home and garden chains and online from nursery catalogs. Check with your local County Cooperative Extension Office to choose the best ones for your gardening zone and region.
Many people have successfully grown strawberries in a wide range of containers. Hanging baskets and large planters or tubs offer many advantages. If you have a front porch or an overhang that faces south or receives full, bright sunlight, you can easily add a few hooks and hang many baskets of strawberries. This saves valuable ground space for other vegetables and fruits that cannot be grown in containers.
Window boxes may be used to grow strawberries as long as they are deep enough to hold rich soil. Be sure your window box has drainage holes and receives bright, full sunlight.
Another option is a large planter or tub. Plastic ones are inexpensive, and as long as it has drainage holes punched or drilled into the bottom, it should work find for strawberries. Adding a caster or dolly with wheels underneath enables you to move it around easily when it is filled and is heavy.
Strawberry jars and pots are unique-looking planter containers ideally suited for strawberries. Sometimes they are also used as decorative containers to grow succulents and sedums. A strawberry jar looks like a large terra cotta urn with multiple pouches off of the sides. Place soil into the center of the pot and into each pouch. The pouches increase the surface area and enable you to plant more strawberries than a simple pot. You can also make them out of wood, creating tiers in which more plants are added.
10 Tips for Success with Container-Grown Strawberries
No matter which type of container you choose, here are 10 tips for successfully growing strawberries in containers.
- Plant no more than five or six plants in a pot, leaving some room between them.
- Verify your plants receive full sunlight, defined as six or more hours of direct sunshine per day. Strawberries need full sunlight in order to flower and produce fruit.
- Use only good quality bagged potting soil in containers.
- Add composted manure or garden compost to the container.
- Fertilize strawberry plants once per month with 10-10-10 fertilizer after planting.
- Keep strawberries away from pepper and tomato plants, since many diseases that strike these vegetables also strike strawberries.
- Pick off the first group of flowers on the plants to encourage more flowers, strong root growth, and bigger berries.
- Pick berries as soon as they are ripe. The more berries you pick, the more the plant produces!
- Use a bird net placed over the pot if birds begin eating the strawberries.
- If slugs are a problem, use an organic treatment such as diatomaceous earth or a small saucer of beer placed near strawberries, which attracts and drowns slugs.
For more tips on growing strawberries, the Purdue University offers a free tip sheet. Strawberries are usually easy and carefree. Try your hand at growing them this year and taste firsthand the difference between store-bought and home-grown berries.