Berried Treasure® Red strawberry. Photo by Proven Winners.

Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits among home gardeners, and for good reason. One of the easiest fruits to grow, they also pack a nutritional punch. These juicy flavorful berries are high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants—offering a range of health benefits. Though fresh strawberries are available in grocery stores during spring and summer, the taste of homegrown fruit is far superior. There’s nothing like eating freshly picked, sun-warmed strawberries right out of your own garden.

A member of the rose family (Rosaceae), the most commonly grown garden strawberries fall under the species Fragaria ×ananassa, a hybrid of wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), native to North America and coastal (or beach) strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), native to Chile. There are also alpine and ornamental types. Since these compact plants can be grown in beds, containers, and hanging baskets, even those with limited space can add these tasty fruits to their yard, patio, or apartment balcony.

On this page: Basics | Planting | Care | Varieties | How to Choose the Right Strawberry

BASICS

Botanical name:

Fragaria

Zones:

3 to 10, depending on variety; winter mulching is recommended in zones 3 and 4.

Height/Spread:

Low mounding, bushy, vining habit, 6 to 16 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide; runners can extend to 40 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom time:

Spring to fall

Color and characteristics:

This short-lived perennial or annual is grown primarily for the edible berries. The deciduous or semi-evergreen leaves are three-lobed, green, with toothed edges. Small, five-petaled flowers are usually white, though sometimes red or pink, with centers of yellow pistils and stamens. Berries are most often red, but also occur in colors of orange-red, yellow, or white. Fruit is sweet and flavorful with a high natural sugar content. Plant lifespan depends on the variety; with proper care, most can produce for 3 to 4 years. New plants are produced through vining runners.

Toxicity:

All parts of the strawberry plant are safe for pets. If your pet enjoys the taste of the fruit, limit intake so they don’t ingest too much sugar.

Types:

It’s important to know the different types in order to choose the best strawberries for your garden.
  • June-bearing: Most common; produces heavy crop of large berries in June.
  • Everbearing: Not truly everbearing. Produces two main crops: late spring and again late summer to early fall. Fruit slightly smaller than June-bearers.
  • Day-neutral: Smaller consistent yields from late spring to frost, smaller fruit.
  • Alpine: Small, but intensely flavorful berries; everbearing or day-neutral varieties.
  • Wild: Berries with superior flavor, North American native.
  • Ornamental: Grown mainly for foliage, fruit is insignificant.

Learn more about the different types of strawberries.

HOW TO PLANT STRAWBERRIES

Bare root strawberry plants. Photo courtesy Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Strawberries can be grown in raised beds, garden beds, or larger plots. They can also be grown in hanging baskets, containers, window boxes, and strawberry pots. In spring, mail order and retail nurseries carry dormant bare-root plants, or more commonly, potted strawberry starts in tray packs, 4-inch pots, or gallon containers.

When to plant:

Plant in spring (around mid-April to mid-May) as soon as soil has dried out enough to be worked and air temperature is above 40 degrees F.

Where to plant:

Choose a sunny site with fertile, well-draining soil that will stay evenly moist. Don’t grow in beds where tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes have recently been grown, as the soil can harbor pathogens such as Verticillium and Phytophthora, which can harm new plants.

Planting in beds:

Loosen soil to a depth of 12 inches and add plenty of organic matter to the planting site. Dig a hole big enough not to bend the roots and place plants so the midpoint of the crown is at soil level. Spread roots out slightly and gently fill in the hole with soil; water well. Mulch plants with fresh straw to keep fruit off the ground; this will help prevent rot and slug damage.

  • Matted row system: Most often used for June-bearing varieties, plants are spaced 18 to 24 inches apart with three feet between rows. This allows room to establish new plants from runners beginning in the second year.
  • Hill method: Most often used with everbearing and day-neutral types, soil is mounded in hilled rows 8 inches tall, 24 inches wide, and as long as needed. Plants are spaced on the hills 12 inches apart in two staggered rows. Runners are pinched and not allowed to set new plants.

Planting in containers:

Use a high-quality potting mix and plant the same as for beds. Pots need good drainage. Plants should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart. These will require more water and fertilizing than plants in the ground.

Other growing methods:

  • Runners: Established plants produce runners from the crown, which are long vining branches that form new plants.
  • Seed: Growing strawberries from seed is challenging and not recommended for novice gardeners. Most garden strawberries are hybrid varieties that won’t come true from seed. Wild, alpine, and open-pollinated varieties can be grown from seed.
  • Indoors: Strawberries can be grown indoors, but this is only recommended for the most experienced gardener. Plants will need artificial lighting and hand-pollination for successful berry production.
  • Hydroponics: Experienced gardeners may want to try growing strawberries hydroponically, where plants are grown in nutrient-rich water rather than soil. This method can be used indoors, allowing for year-round fruit production.

Strawberry companion plants:

Companion planting refers to the symbiotic relationship of how certain plants can benefit from close proximity of others. For strawberries, good companion plants include borage, caraway, and bush beans. Don’t plant strawberries near vegetables in the cabbage family such as broccoli, cauliflower, or kale, as growth can be stunted.

BONUS DIY:
GALVANIZED VERTICAL STRAWBERRY PLANTER

For those with limited space, growing solutions can be attractive as well as functional. Get creative and make vertical hanging planters from galvanized duct pipe as seen in this video from Garden Answer.

CARE

Soil:

Strawberries prefer rich soil that is well amended with compost or other organic matter. Soil should be slightly acidic with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8 (6.2 is ideal). Clay soil with poor drainage can cause root rot.

Amendments & fertilizer:

A few weeks after planting, apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer according to package instructions. For established June-bearing plants, fertilize after harvest is complete. Day-neutral and everbearing types can be fertilized after the second berry crop, but no later than September.

Watering:

Strawberries have shallow roots around 6 inches deep, so it’s crucial to water regularly, particularly during fruit development to promote bigger, juicier berries. Plants need about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water per week.

Maintenance:

For early harvest up to three weeks ahead, cover planting area with a cloche or row cover after planting to retain heat. Once flowers begin to bloom, remove the cover on warmer days to allow for insect pollination. Once berries start to develop, cover area with netting if necessary to deter birds. After the first hard frost, cover plants for the winter with a 6-inch layer of leaves or straw. Remove mulch in spring when plants begin to turn green.

Pruning:

Strawberries develop runners, which are thin vining branches that grow from the crown. Remove runners in the first year to put energy back into the plants. Allow runners to grow and develop new plants in the second or third year so they can replace older, non-producing plants.

Thinning and rejuvenation:

Beginning in the second year, cut or mow June-bearing types 2 to 4 inches above the ground immediately after harvest, then fertilize to promote new growth. Thin to allow 4 to 6 inches between plants. For all types, allow runners to establish new plants in the second or third year and remove older unproductive plants.

Harvesting:

Harvest fruits when they are fully colored and firm; don’t allow to become overripe, as fruit will become mushy or moldy. Use soon after harvest or remove the leaf core and freeze for later use.

Diseases and pests:

Diseases include fruit rot, mold, leaf spot, leaf blight, verticillium wilt, botrytis, anthracnose, powdery mildew, and root rot. Pests include slugs, snails, spider mites, cut worms, aphids, whitefly, weevils, or grubs.

Deer resistance:

All parts of the strawberry plant are attractive to deer. Protect plants as necessary and make sure to wash berries well if your plants have been grazed, as deer can transmit E. coli and other diseases.

STRAWBERRY VARIETIES

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Berried Treasure® RedPreorder from Proven Winners beginning 12/1/20
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 4-9

Height/Spread: Upright spreading habit with trailing runners, 12 to 16 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring through fall

Color: Red flowers, green foliage, red berries

This everbearing annual variety produces showy semi-double red flowers that are attractive in their own right. Flowers and berries are produced from the time of planting until the first hard frost. Grow in an ornamental edible plot, container, raised bed, or as edging. Runners can be trimmed back or allowed to sprawl.

Photo by: ButtermilkgirlVirginia / Shutterstock

‘Allstar’
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 4-8

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8 to 10 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring

Color: White flowers, green foliage, red berries

This June-bearing variety produces fruit during mid-season. ‘Allstar’ is both frost and heat resistant, growing well in most regions of the U.S., including the south, midwest, and northeast. Produces large, juicy fruit with sweet, mild flavor that is great for fresh eating or freezing. Excellent resistance to fungal diseases.

Photo courtesy Burpee

‘Earliglow’Buy now from Burpee
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 4-8

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8 to 10 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring

Color: White flowers, green foliage, red berries

The earliest June-bearing variety, ‘Earliglow’ produces vigorous plants with lots of runners. The large firm berries have excellent sweet flavor. Disease-resistant and cold-tolerant plants are well-adapted to the mid-Atlantic, midwest and northeast regions. The fruit can be used for fresh snacking, preserves and freezing.

Photo by: Brendan Delaney / Shutterstock

‘Honeoye’
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 3-8

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8 to 10 inches tall and 8 to 18 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring

Color: White flowers, green foliage, red berries

This early to mid-season June-bearing variety has exceptional winter hardiness, growing well in the northeast and upper midwest. Plants are vigorous and disease-resistant, producing high yields of large, firm, sweet-tasting berries. Eat fresh or preserve; one of the best varieties for freezing.

Photo courtesy Oregon Strawberries

‘Shuksan’
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 5-10

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 6-8 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Mid-late spring

Color: White flowers, green foliage, red berries

This late season June-bearing variety bred in the Pacific Northwest produces medium-large, dark red berries with excellent flavor. Great for eating, preserving, cooking, or freezing. This prolific producer grows well in many other regions, with heat and cold tolerance. Also tolerant of poor drainage, alkaline soils, and is disease resistant.

Photo courtesy Johnny’s Selected Seeds

‘Seascape’
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 4-9

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8 to 10 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: From late spring until frost

Color: White flowers, green foliage, red berries

Developed in California, this day-neutral variety has consistent production from spring to fall, producing a high yield within a few months of planting. The large, deep red berries are firm yet juicy with outstanding taste. One of the most disease-resistant day-neutral types, ‘Seascape’ is both heat and cold tolerant. A good choice for containers or raised beds.

Photo by: Kassia Marie Ott / Shutterstock

‘Alexandria’
Fragaria vesca

Zones: 5-8

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8-10 inches tall and 14-18 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring through fall

Color: White flowers, green foliage, red berries

This heirloom alpine type produces an abundant crop of thumbnail-sized fruit with exceptional flavor. Plants produce berries in their first year, with harvest lasting into fall during the following year. The compact runner-less growth habit of this day-neutral variety makes it a good choice for containers, raised beds, window boxes, or indoor gardening.

Photo courtesy Burpee

‘Tristan’Buy now from Burpee
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 4-8

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8 to 12 inches tall and 14 to 24 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring through fall

Color: Rose-pink flowers, green foliage, red berries

A unique combination of deep red berries and rose-pink flowers makes this everbearing variety as attractive as the berries are tasty. The compact runner-less plants look great in containers or small kitchen plots, producing an abundant harvest of elongated sweet fruits throughout the summer.

Photo by: Anya Douglas / Shutterstock

‘Eversweet’
Fragaria ×ananassa

Zones: 4-9

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8 to 16 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring through fall

Color: White flowers, green foliage, red berries

Bred for the southeastern U.S., this day-neutral variety (sometimes listed as everbearing) produces berries in heat up to 100 degrees F without sacrificing quality or flavor. The large, sweet fruit can be eaten fresh or frozen. Heat and disease tolerant, ‘Eversweet’ can be grown in many U.S. regions. Produces a big crop early in summer, then smaller crops every 6 weeks into fall. Plant in beds or containers.

Photo by: luis abrantes / Shutterstock

‘Pineberry’
Fragaria x ananassa

Zones: 5-8

Height/Spread: Low spreading habit, 8 to 12 inches tall and 10 to 18 inches wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom Time: Late spring through fall

Color: White flowers, green foliage, creamy white berries with red seeds

Recently introduced, this novelty everbearing variety produces rounded white fruits that smell and taste like pineapple. The unusual color and flavor are perfect for gourmet cooking, whether in salads or for snacking. Not to be confused with white alpine strawberry, which looks similar. Grow in a container or raised bed.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT STRAWBERRY

For edible plots and raised beds:

Garden and alpine types are most suitable.

For slopes and hillsides:

Alpine and ornamental strawberries make excellent ground covers and help to stem erosion. Make sure to leave areas where you can step if you plan on harvesting the berries.

For containers:

Alpine and other smaller varieties are best, though any variety can be grown in containers if given adequate space and nutrients. Because water and fertilizer can leach out quickly, plants will need more frequent attention.

For Trellises:

Varieties with long runners such as ‘Mt. Everest’ and ‘Skyline’ can be trained to grow vertically on a teepee or trellis.

There are hundreds of strawberry varieties that perform differently depending on region, so it’s best to select cultivars that perform well where you live. Consult your local garden center, extension service, or this state-by-state guide.

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