Growing strawberry plants

by Adam Pasco

If you want fast fruit then look no further than strawberries...

Hand holding ripe and unripe strawberriesIf you want fast fruit then look no further than strawberries. From rather unpromising cold-stored runners, foliage will develop in days, flowers in weeks, with ripe fruit ready for picking in about two months.

Commercially available strawberry runners are stored in cold conditions, which encourages flower buds to form in their crowns — just as winter stimulates bud formation in strawberries grown outdoors. Once planted in warmer conditions, the plants undergo a surge of rapid growth.

I prefer growing strawberries in pots. If I had more space outside, I'd build a 'berry bed' with a proper net-clad frame over it to keep birds away from ripening fruits. Blackbirds in particular have a nose for strawberries. They're not very good at sharing, so if you are hoping for at least a few peck-free fruits then netting is essential. I'm not convinced that other supposed deterrents, such as cats or compact discs, are very effective.

No, it's strawberries in pots for me; large pots filled with a loam-based John Innes compost. Strawberries are perennials, so can continue yielding fruit for many years. They also produce extra runners, which can be pegged down into fresh pots of compost, fruiting the following year.

Cold-stored strawberry runners are available from mail order fruit suppliers for immediate potting. Kept on greenhouse staging, they quickly grow during spring. It’s important to be vigilant for signs of greenfly or red spider mite, and to treat affected plants immediately. Warm greenhouse conditions encourage early fruiting, and if planted in hanging baskets, strawberry plants are less likely to be attacked by slugs and snails.

Don't forget that cunning blackbirds, with their keen sense of smell, can find their way into greenhouses through open vents or doors left ajar. Peg a piece of netting over these to restrict their antics.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Growing strawberry plants
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 09/03/2009 at 19:32

hiya i planted strawberrys last year and had no luck ,this year i turfed them up about a month ago when i was making a veg patch in my front garden will they produce fruit this year and how can i help them ive already put loads of organic matter in the soil and when do i put the straw on to stop fruit rot

Gardeners' World Web User 09/03/2009 at 21:31

Strawberry plants produce a bigger crown for their second year, so hopefully you'll get a better crop. It sounds as if you have carried out good soil preparation, so a great start. The main point of using straw is to hold developing fruits clear of the soil, avoiding them resting on the ground or being covered with mud when it rains. Personally I'd avoid using straw, as the only time I have ever done this I introduced loads of weed seed into my plot! My main problem when growing strawberries is the blackbirds. You will probably have to develop methods for keeping birds away, possibly using netting.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/03/2009 at 06:06

Poor old Blackbird he seems to be getting the blame for the damage done to stawberry crops, I think slugs are the main culprit, leave some for the blackbird along with a nice juicey slug, that's what I say.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/03/2009 at 17:50

thank you adam do you think its worth me taking up the straw then,and to save some money this year ive got a massive drum and im going to make a cumphry and nettle feed because ive heard there both full of vitamins and minerals and when soaked in water for 2 weeks use the water and poor in on your veg will this help all of them or only certain types

Gardeners' World Web User 15/03/2009 at 17:10

can anybody help me i cant find or buy bifenthrin anywhere ass too all the problem solutions they say to use bifenthrin.

See more comments...