Strawberries are a delicious and healthy fruit that can be enjoyed fresh, in jams and desserts, or even dried. They are also relatively easy to grow, making them a great choice for beginner gardeners. Strawberries come in many varieties, so you can choose the type that best suits your climate and growing conditions.
If you’re limited on space or simply want to add a pop of color and sweetness to your porch or patio, consider growing strawberries in containers. Growing strawberries in pots are easy and don’t require a lot of space, making it a great option for small gardens, balconies, and indoor spaces.
This article will cover everything you need to know about how to grow strawberries successfully in containers. We will discuss the best types of strawberries to grow in containers, the ideal growing conditions, and how to care for your plants. By the end of this article, you will be ready to start growing your delicious strawberries at home.
What Are Strawberries?
Strawberries are a delicious red fruit that is enjoyed by people all over the world. They are multiple fruits, meaning that each fruit comprises many smaller fruits called drupelets. Strawberries are members of the rose family, producing runners – long, thin stems that grow from the main plant and take root elsewhere, creating new plants.
There are around 600 varieties, but the most common type is the Fragaria x ananassa, a hybrid of two other strawberry types. This hybrid was first cultivated in France during the 18th century.
The name “strawberry” comes from the Old English word streawberige, which means “strawberry.” This is because strawberries used to grow wild in fields and were often found strewn (or sprinkled) on the ground.
Strawberries are a popular ingredient in many desserts, such as strawberry shortcakes, pie, and ice cream. They can also be eaten on their own as a healthy snack.
History Of Strawberries :
Strawberries have been around for centuries and were mentioned in ancient Roman literature. In the 18th century, strawberries began growing in European gardens. Commercial production of strawberries started in the 19th century, and by the early 20th century, strawberries were being grown worldwide.
There are many different types of strawberries, including wild strawberries, garden strawberries, and alpine strawberries. Wild strawberries are the smallest type of strawberry and have a more intense flavor than other types.
Garden strawberries are the most common type of strawberry and are typically larger and sweeter than wild strawberries. Alpine strawberries are a type of wild strawberry native to Europe and have a tart flavor.
Nutritional Benefits of Strawberries :
Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C and manganese and contain small amounts of vitamins B6, folate, potassium, and magnesium. One cup of strawberries (about 150 grams) has only 50 calories and 7 grams of sugar.
Health Benefits of Strawberries :
The health benefits of strawberries are due to the presence of antioxidants and other nutrients in the fruit. These nutrients can help to protect the body against diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Strawberries’ antioxidants may also help reduce inflammation, improve brain function, and lower the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
In addition, strawberries contain ellagitannins, a compound that has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in test-tube and animal studies.
Strawberries are a good source of fiber, which is important for digestive health. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system clean and functioning properly, and it also helps to prevent constipation and keeps the colon healthy.
Some research suggests that eating Strawberries may help lower cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease.
Now that you know a lot about strawberries, here are the following steps to grow Strawberries Successfully in Containers. The first step in growing strawberries is to select from the types of strawberries :
Types of Strawberries :
The two main types of strawberries are June-bearing and everbearing. June-bearing strawberries produce a large crop all at once in early summer. This type of strawberry is best suited for areas with long growing seasons.
Everbearing strawberries produce smaller crops several times throughout the season, from spring to fall. These are a good choice for shorter growing seasons or if you want a continuous supply of fresh strawberries.
When choosing a type of strawberry to grow in your container, selecting a variety that is bred specifically for container growing is important. These varieties are typically smaller and more compact than other strawberries, making them ideal for small spaces.
What Type of Strawberry is Best for Pots?
The best strawberries to grow in containers are known as ‘alpine’ or ‘everbearing’ varieties. These include ‘Mara de Bois’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Sweetheart’, and ‘Aromas’.
Alpine strawberries are smaller than the more familiar varieties you see in supermarkets, but they more than make up for their size with their intense flavor. They are also effortless to grow, which makes them ideal for beginner gardeners.
Where to Buy Them?
Strawberry plants are available from garden centers and online retailers from late March onwards. If you buy plants that have already been grown in pots, they can be planted straight into their final home.
If you are buying bare-rooted strawberry plants, they will need to be prepared before planting. To do this, soak the roots in water for an hour or so before potting them up, and this will help them to establish more quickly once they are in the pot. Now comes the fun part :
Choosing a Container
Any type of container that is large enough to accommodate the roots of your strawberry plants and has drainage holes in the base will be suitable. Terracotta pots and hanging baskets are ideal, but you could also use plastic pots, grow bags, or wooden barrels. Choose a light-colored pot, as dark colors absorb heat, which can scorch the roots of your plants.
The container size will depend on the number of strawberry plants you want to grow. Generally, each strawberry plant will need a pot at least 20cm (8in) wide and deep. If you are growing several plants in one pot, make sure it is at least 40cm (16in) wide and deep.
Preparing the Container
Fill your tub or container with compost to 10cm (4in) of the rim. Use a good quality potting compost, such as John Innes No.3, specially formulated for containers. If you are reusing a pot that has previously been used for another plant, make sure you clean it out thoroughly before adding fresh compost.
Water the compost well and allow it to drain before planting your strawberry plants. If you are using a terracotta pot, soak it in water for at least an hour before planting to help prevent the pot from drying out too quickly.
Preparing the Soil
Strawberries prefer well-drained, sandy soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5. Using a raised bed, you can mix your soil using equal parts topsoil, sand, and compost. You can also add some peat moss or vermiculite to improve drainage.
If you use a container, you must use a high-quality potting mix designed for strawberries. These mixes are typically made with peat moss, perlite, and composted bark, and you can find them at your local garden center or online.
When preparing the soil for your strawberries, it is important to avoid using fresh manure, which can contain harmful bacteria that can infect your plants. If you must use manure, ensure it is well-composted and has been used on other crops first.
Planting Your Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants are usually available to buy from early spring onwards. Choose healthy-looking plants that are free from pests and diseases. If you are growing strawberries from seed, sow the seeds in late winter or early spring.
Dig a hole in the compost to accommodate the roots to plant your strawberry plants. Gently loosen the roots and position the plant in the hole so that the crown (where the leaves meet the stem) is level with the surface of the compost. Fill in around the roots with compost and firm gently. Water your plants well after planting and keep them moist throughout the growing season.
Caring For Your Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants need to be kept moist but not waterlogged, so check the compost regularly and water when necessary. You may need to water your plants daily during hot, dry weather.
Feed your strawberry plants every two weeks with a high-potash liquid fertilizer such as tomato feed. This will encourage fruiting.
Remove any flowers that appear in the first year to encourage your plants to produce more fruit. In the following years, allow some flowers to set fruit, but remove any that appear later in the season so that the plants can put all their energy into ripening the fruits already developing.
Once the flowers have opened, you can help to prevent them from being blown away by the wind by tying them together with soft string or strips of fabric.
When the fruits start to swell, put a layer of straw around the plants to protect the fruits from contact with the soil, which could cause them to rot.
Common Problems With Strawberry Plants And Their Prevention :
The most common problem with strawberry plants is that they are susceptible to a fungal disease called gray mold (Botrytis cinerea). This can cause the fruits to rot and the leaves to turn yellow and die back.
To prevent gray mold, water your plants at ground level rather than wetting the foliage, and ensure good air circulation around the plants. Remove any affected leaves and fruits as soon as you see them.
Another problem that can affect strawberry plants is root rot caused by overwatering. The easiest way to prevent this is to ensure that the pot has drainage holes in the bottom and that you only water when the compost is dry.
Harvesting Your Strawberries :
Strawberries are ready to harvest when fully ripe and have turned a deep red color. To test if they are ready, gently press down on the fruit with your finger. If it is soft enough to dent, it is ready to pick.
Pick strawberries in the morning or evening when it is cool, as this will help them to stay fresh for longer. Cut the stem with a sharp knife or secateurs; do not damage the plant.
Enjoy your strawberries as soon as possible after picking the best flavor. If you need to store them, put them in the fridge, where they will keep for a few days.
– Place your pots or containers in a sunny spot. Strawberries need at least six hours of sunshine daily to produce a good fruit crop.
– If you are growing strawberries in hanging baskets, ensure you water them regularly as they will dry out more quickly than pot plants.
– To prevent strawberry plants from getting too wet, raise them on pot feet or bricks.
– To deter slugs and other pests, spread a layer of gravel or grit around the base of your plants.
– To protect your plants from birds, cover them with netting or grow them under cloches.
– Cut back your strawberry plants after harvesting to encourage new growth. Remove any flowers that appear so the plants can focus on producing fruit.
How To Select And Store :
Strawberries should be bright red, with a fresh, green stem. Avoid strawberries with lackluster or broken brown or mushy spots.
Eating strawberries as soon as possible after they are picked is best, but they can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Please place them in a container with the stems pointing up, and do not wash them until you are ready to eat them.
How To Enjoy :
Strawberries can be eaten in a variety of ways, including they can be eaten fresh, used in recipes, or made into a delicious strawberry smoothie.
Here are some ideas for incorporating strawberries into your diet:
– Add sliced strawberries to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal.
– Make a fruit salad with strawberries, oranges, and bananas.
– Enjoy strawberry yogurt for a healthy snack.
– Add diced strawberries to your lunchtime salad.
– Make a homemade strawberry pie or cake.
– Use frozen strawberries to make a refreshing smoothie.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
– Make a fruit salad with diced strawberries, mango, and kiwi.
– Pair sliced strawberries with low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt.
– Add diced strawberries to your morning oatmeal or pancakes.
– Toss sliced strawberries into a green salad.
Possible Side Effects
Strawberries are generally safe to eat, but some people may be allergic to them. A strawberry allergy can include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. People who are allergic to other fruits in the rose family, such as cherries and apples, may also be allergic to strawberries.
It’s also crucial to remember that strawberries can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and antidepressants. If you take any prescription drugs, it is always best to speak with your doctor before adding strawberries to your diet.
Strawberries are a delicious and healthy fruit that can be enjoyed in various ways. They are an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants and can also help boost your immune system. Strawberries are relatively easy to grow at home and make a wonderful addition to any garden.
As you can see, growing your strawberries is a simple and rewarding process. You can enjoy delicious homegrown strawberries for many years with a little care and attention.