Proper Name: Fragaria
Common Name: Strawberry
Type: Fruiting Perennial
Mature Size: 10 - 30 cm Tall, 15 - 60 cm Wide
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Type: Well-Drained, Rich, Loamy
Soil pH: Acidic (5.8 to 6.2)
Blooms: Late Spring, Early Summer
Hardiness Zone: 0a to 9a
Strawberries are the 3rd most popular fruit among Canadians, and it's easy to see why. Beyond just the colour, fragrance and taste, there are many health benefits to be had, including reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Not only are they low in calories, but they're also very rich in vitamins B6, C and K, folic acid, fibre, potassium and amino acids.
The Common Strawberry is an easy to grow perennial plant that produces about 500 g of Strawberries each year. The typical Canadian consumes approximately 2000 g of Strawberries each year. Making the target 4 to 5 plants per person you're trying to support. This is easy to do in as little as 30 x 30 cm of space by growing them in a Strawberry Tower.
45 cm / 90 cm
Bought as Stolons
Strawberries are meant to be planted in rich, moist soil with 10-10-10 fertilizer about 45 cm apart. Doing this will leave room for your runners to spread across your patch. Planting them outside during the Spring months in our Canadian climate will ensure that they're well-rooted and great producers the following year. It's recommended that you pinch off the blooms in the first year to encourage plant root growth rather than fruit production.
Once you plant your Stolons with the roots covered and the crown exposed, be sure to mulch throughout the patch. Mulching not only deters weeds but also helps retain moisture and keeps the soil temperature low. NEVER use Black Plastic to mulch as it will raise the soil temperature. Ideally, you'll want to use Straw, as it will keep the soil cool which is required for optimal fruit production and will keep your fruit out of the dirt.
NEVER plant your Strawberries near or where Peppers, Tomatoes, or Eggplants have grown, as it can spread Verticillium Wilt to your Strawberries.
Strawberries require 6 to 10 hours of sunlight per day to produce fruit. We suggest at least 8 hours of light a day as any less will stunt your fruit production. The more direct sunlight your crops get, the larger your fruit harvest will be.
Strawberries require a Rich and Loamy soil with an Acidic pH (5.8 to 6.2) for maximum production. Remember to cover the roots of your stolons with dirt leaving the crown exposed. If you bury your stolons too deeply, the entire plant will wither, rot and die.
Strawberries require a lot of water to produce rich and juicy berries. For juicy berries, you'll want to water your plants daily with a target of 2.5 to 5 cm of moisture weekly. Be sure to water regularly through the entire growing season, but it's most crucial during flowering and fruit production.
Strawberries require a temperature of between 15 to 27°C to produce fruit. Your plants will be able to survive in temperatures as low as -5°C if protected from the frost with proper coverage.
Strawberries are at serious risk in high humidity as this is a primary cause of Powdery Mildew. Always try to keep lots of air circulation around your plants and avoid moisture on your leaves during high humidity.
Strawberries prefer compost-rich organic soil with 10-10-10 fertilizer at planting. Then be sure to fertilize again once flowering beings. DO NOT over-fertilize aim for 50 g/m2, or you'll end up with lots of leaves but no flowers for fruit. NEVER fertilize late in the season as the frost will damage any new growth and stunt the plant the following season.
June-bearing plants will produce a single crop over a 2 - 3 week period, typically in June or sooner in warmer climates. Removing the flowers during the first year will stimulate root growth and will substantially increase future yields.
Even though the name would lead you to believe that Ever-bearing varieties will produce year-round, this is untrue. Ever-bearing types will offer two harvests, typically in June and again in the Early Fall.
Day-neutral types will produce fruit all through the season but in smaller quantities than other varieties. Production is not determined by the length of the day like additional types but rather by temperature. This variety will produce buds in temperatures as low as 1°C but will stop fruiting at temperatures over 24°C. Day-neutral types will offer smaller berries and substantially fewer runners than June-bearing.
Strawberries will begin to produce fruit over two to three weeks at the end of Spring, depending on the variety. Strawberries are the sweetest when they have been fully ripened on the plant. Be sure to leave your berries on the plants for 2 to 3 days after they've fully coloured. Doing this will typically ensure the sweetest berries, but a taste test is the only way to be sure!
REMEMBER to always be gentle with Strawberries as they bruise easily. Cut the stem directly above the berry instead of pulling on it, and keep your harvested berries in a chilly location until you use them.
Pruning is very different depending on the variety of Strawberries you're growing. June-bearing plants will produce a lot of runners that you should leave alone. Meanwhile, Ever-bearing and Day-neutral should be snipped off as the runners offer inferior fruit.
It's a good habit when planting Strawberries the first year to pick the blossoms off the plant. Doing this stimulates extra root growth in the first year, developing a healthier root system. Doing this will significantly increase fruit production from the second year on.
Strawberries are perennial and will continue to come back year after year if wintered correctly. Propagation occurs through stem runners that sprout from the parent plant and root themselves in the soil. Once the runner has taken root, the connecting stem can be cut, and you can carefully dig up and transplant the new stolon wherever you wish. Pinning a runner in the soil will speed up the rooting process, and the best time to dig and transplant is in the Early Fall.
In colder climates like here in Canada, you must mulch over your Strawberry plants to prevent injury to the crowns. You should wait until the outside temperature touches -7°C and then cover the plants with several inches of Straw or other mulches. Be sure whatever mulch you choose to use can be easily removed in the Spring.
Pests & Diseases
Strawberries are a high-maintenance plant that can suffer from several diseases including, Sun Scorch, Gray Mold, Root Rot, Fruit Rot and other Foliage Diseases. Common pests include Mites, Aphids, Nematodes, Slugs and Strawberry Weevils, not to mention Birds. Many different varieties of Strawberry are bred to be resistant to common diseases. Be sure to consult with your Local Garden Centre about the best selection for your region.