The garden perennial called a strawberry plant can be grown in USDA Zones 3 to 11. Stolonaceous plants, strawberries produce runners that will develop a new plant on the tips – this is their primary means of reproduction. They do best in fertile, well-drained, slightly acid soil and need regular water. You’ll need to fertilize for the best production. Replace plants every four or five years.
Parts of A Strawberry Plant
Like most plants, strawberries have distinct sections or parts that serve specific functions. These are:
- Roots – anchor the plant and absorb water and nutrients.
- Crown – leaves, flower buds and runners arise from this structure.
- Stems/Leaves – each plant has multiple stems topped with three leaves
- Flowers/Fruit – blossoms develop into fruit after fertilization.
- Runners – these arise from the crown and develop into new plants.
Strawberry plants are ground-huggers – you rarely find plants more than six inches tall unless they are growing in shade. The crown of the plant grows above soil level. Stems, flowers and fruits spring from this crown. The plants will also produce runners after fruiting. Each runner ends in a miniature plant that will root where it touches the ground.
Strawberry leaves are usually dark green, although a few varieties have lighter green leaves. The leaves are shiny, with a noticeable central vein running from stem to tip. Three leaves grow from each stem in a cloverleaf fashion. The edges are serrated and are generally rounded on the ends or lance-shaped. Healthy leaves have a glossy finish.
Strawberry flowers develop from buds formed the previous year. The typical flower has five petals, but different varieties may have up to eight. In most varieties the petals are white, but some have pink or reddish blossoms. The center of the flower holds the yellow or white domed surface of the pistils. Surrounding this are the feathery, yellow, pollen-bearing stamens.
What we call a strawberry fruit is actually an enlarged flower stem. The red flesh we eat is simply a vehicle for what we call strawberry seeds. The surface of this “fruit” contains many embedded seeds. These seeds – technically called achenes – are the true fruit. Each contains a tiny strawberry plant. Pollinated by wind and insects, strawberries will not come true from seed and are propagated with runners.