Growing Strawberries in Strawberry Pots
The sweetest strawberries can grow right outside your door in a strawberry pot. Usually urn-shaped, the container is designed with three to twenty side pockets. These side pockets are perfect for the hanging habit of strawberries. The convenient pockets prevent the berries from touching soil that may contain soil-borne diseases. The strawberry pot is ideal for producing healthy plants and a beautiful outdoor living space.
- Types of Strawberry Pots
- Terra Cotta Strawberry Pots
- Plastic Strawberry Pots
- Ceramic Strawberry Pots
Types of Strawberry Pots
Strawberry pots, sometimes called strawberry jars, are made of different materials. Plastic, terra cotta, and ceramic pots of various shapes, sizes and prices are available. There are pros and cons of each type of strawberry pot.
Terra Cotta Strawberry Pots
Clay-based terracotta strawberry pots are usually a brownish-orange color. These beautiful pots are relatively inexpensive and last for years if properly maintained. When growing in these pots, more frequent watering is necessary. The porous property of this clay pottery readily sucks up the moisture in the soil. A do-it-yourself water reservoir system can be used to offset this.
Plastic Strawberry Pots
Plastic strawberry pots are less expensive than terra cotta and ceramic pots. These pots are lightweight and can be moved around easily, but they can also be toppled over easily, especially if filled with a lightweight soil mixture.
Ceramic Strawberry Pots
The best strawberry pots are the ceramic ones. Ceramic pots are heavy, retain water, and are attractive. They come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. These attractive pots will cost more than plastic or terra cotta pots. When purchasing ceramic strawberry pots, be sure to purchase only those with drainage holes on the bottom.
Proper Size of Strawberry Pot
Choose strawberry pots based on how many strawberries you want to consume. For fresh consumption, about seven plants per person are recommended. Ten plants per person are recommended if you plan to freeze some strawberries for later use.
Strawberry pots usually have three to twenty pockets. Each pocket can grow a plant plus three or four plants can be planted on the top of the pot. Purchase one or more pots to accommodate the number of people you want to feed.
Best Strawberry Types for Strawberry Pots
When growing strawberries in pots, a type that will bear fruit the first year is the best. Everbearing and day-neutral cultivars will produce berries the first year: June bearing strawberry cultivars will not. Everbearing and day-neutral cultivars also produce little to no runners. The confined space of a strawberry pot isn’t suitable for strawberry plant runners.
Another great reason to grow day-neutral strawberry plants is that they produce continuously throughout the growing season if the weather is not extremely hot. Choose varieties that are suited for your USDA Zone. Here are some of the day-neutral varieties:
- Tribute (USDA Zones 3-10)
- Elan (USDA Zones 5-8)
- Seascape (USDA Zones 4-7)
- Tristar (USDA Zones 4-8)
- Albion (USDA Zones 4-7)
- Tarpan (USDA Zones 5-8)
- Alexandria (USDA Zones 5-8)
Everbearing strawberry plants usually bear three crops every growing season in warm climates, but only two crops in the cooler climates. These non-runner strawberry plants are well suited to the confinement of a strawberry pot. Some of the everbearing strawberries that do well in pots are:
- Fort Laramie (USDA Zones 3-7)
- Ozark Beauty (USDA Zones 4-8)
- Eversweet (USDA Zones 5-8)
- Toscana (USDA Zones 4-9)
- Quinault (USDA Zones 2-9)
- Ogallala (USDA Zones 5-9)
Soil Mixture for Strawberry Pots
The soil from your garden should never be used for growing in containers. Garden soil could possibly contain pest larvae and disease that hinder the growth of strawberry plants. Garden soil does not drain adequately in pots and will stress the plants.
The best growing medium for strawberry pots is actually a soilless potting mixture. It should consist of 40 percent peat moss or coir (coconut fiber), 50 percent good-quality screened compost, and 10 percent perlite. Potting mixtures with all these items included are available or you can individually buy the items and mix them.
Planting in Strawberry Pots
Planting in strawberry pots is different than planting in the typical container. The steps to successfully planting is relatively simple. Here is how to plant strawberries in a strawberry pot:
- A water reservoir is helpful in maintaining the proper moisture level at all levels of the strawberry pot. A water reservoir can be made from a narrow PVC pipe. Cut the pipe slightly longer than the height of the pot. Drill holes every two inches along the sides of the pipe.
- Terra cotta planters, with its sponge-like behavior, absorbs moisture from the soil inside its walls. If using a terra cotta pot, lay the entire pot in water for an hour before planting. This will prevent the pot from absorbing all the water out of the soil in the pot.
- Place metal screening, pea gravel, or broken terra cotta pot pieces over the drainage holes of the strawberry pot. This will prevent the potting soil from washing out.
- Position the PVC pipe water reservoir as you begin to fill up the pot with potting soil. The pipe should not be directly over the drainage hole. Fill the pot with potting soil to the level of the lowest side pockets.
- Place strawberry plants into the lowest pockets. Carefully stretch the roots into the pot and be certain the plant’s crown is just above the soil level. Firmly pack the potting soil around the roots.
- Fill the pot with potting soil to the next level of side pockets. Place plants into the pockets in the same manner as the first group. Repeat this process until all of the pockets are planted.
- Fill the strawberry pot with potting soil until you reach 3-4 inches below the rim of the pot. Plant three or four strawberry plants in the top opening as you would a regular pot. The crown of the plants needs to be just above the soil level.
- After the pot is completely planted, pour water down the PVC pipe and water each pocket slowly. Be careful not to dislodge the roots of the plant, especially when it is newly planted.
Fertilizing Plants in Strawberry Pots
Plants in containers need frequent fertilizing. The frequent watering necessary for potted plants can cause nutrients to leach out of the pot’s soilless growing medium.
Strawberry plants in pots grow best when using a balanced liquid organic fertilizer that contains nitrogen and potassium. The first application of fertilizer should be applied when the plants are first planted. Apply the amount the package label recommends. Fertilize every two weeks from late spring to late summer.
Strawberry Pot Location
Strawberry plants do best in warm, sunny locations. Place strawberry pots in areas that receive 6 to 10 hours of direct sunlight per day. Locate the pot so that all plants receive sunlight at all times. If not possible, rotate the pot regularly so that the sunlight will reach all the plants. Pots on caddies make moving convenient.
Watering Plants in Strawberry Pots
Potted plants require more water than plants grown in the ground. Even the ideal soilless medium can quickly dry out in a strawberry pot. They must stay moist. Unless there is rain, watering once and sometimes twice a day is crucial. Fill up the water reservoir and carefully water the plants in the side pockets.
Overwintering Pot-Grown Strawberries
Strawberries are grown as perennials in the ground in all USDA Zones, but growing them as perennials in pots can be a challenge in colder climates. In the coldest regions, most strawberries grown in containers are treated as annuals. Every spring new plants are started in fresh soilless potting mixtures.
Strawberry plants usually survive in temperatures that do not drop below 20°F(-7°C) for long periods of time. When low temperatures threaten, there are some actions that can be taken to protect plants. Here are some suggestions to protect plants from freezing:
- Wrap insulation around the pot.
- Move the pot into a garage, greenhouse, or home.
- Mulch plant with straw, newspaper, or pine needles.
- Place row cover plastic over the pot.
Other Uses of Strawberry Pots
Strawberry pots can be used to grow plants other than strawberry plants. Herbs, flowers, and succulents with shallow growing roots can be grown successfully in strawberry pots. Some gardeners choose to plant every pocket with the same kind of plant: others choose to plant a different kind of plant in each pocket.
Using strawberry pots can be an enjoyable way to grow your favorite plants. All the herbs you need for meals can be planted in one pot and located just steps from your kitchen. The strawberry pot can also accommodate your favorite colored flowers that transform an ordinary deck into something beautiful. The strawberry pot’s use potential is almost endless.