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Growing strawberries in pots and hanging baskets is an easy way to enjoy super-sweet fruits all summer long. I keep a pot of strawberries on my sunny back deck as well as a few baskets in my polytunnel so I can graze as I putter in the garden. But why grow in containers? Why not plant them right in the garden? Strawberry plants are compact and perfect for tucking in small spaces like pots, planters, and baskets. Growing in pots is also a good way to foil pests like slugs that seem to know just when a strawberry is most sweet. Plus, strawberries grown in containers are generally less prone to bacterial and fungal diseases.
Best types of strawberries to grow in pots and baskets
You can grow any type of strawberry in a pot or basket and expect a harvest, but certain types of strawberries produce fruits once a year while others yield over months, not weeks.
- June strawberries – June-bearing strawberry plants produce a generous harvest of large, sweet berries for several weeks in early summer. They’re popular among home gardeners and there are many varieties available to grow. To extend the season, you can plant early, mid-season, and late-season varieties of June-bearing strawberries.
- Day neutral strawberries – These varieties yield a modest harvest of berries from late spring through autumn, and even offer a good crop the first year. The fruits, however, are smaller than June and ever-bearing strawberries.
- Ever-bearing strawberries – While the name implies ever-bearing strawberries fruit continuously, the truth is that they produce several medium harvests over the course of the season. I’ve also found the plants to be less winter hardy than June-bearing or day neutral varieties. Protect the plants in winter with a mulch of straw or shredded leaves.
Best containers for strawberry plants
It may seem like a small consideration, but container selection impacts the health of your plants and how much watering you’ll need to do. For example, choose a pot without drainage holes and you’ll quickly see the impact saturated soil has on plant health. Therefore, be sure to choose a pot with several good-sized drainage holes.
The container material also plays a part in maintenance. A porous material, like terra cotta, is gorgeous, but it dries out very quickly and you’ll need to be extra vigilant in keeping an eye on soil moisture. A plastic planter, on the other hand, retains moisture better than terra cotta. And if you really want the look of terra cotta, just find a plastic pot that fits inside the terra cotta one to boost moisture retention.
Best soil for strawberries in pots and baskets
Plants grown in containers need well-drained soil. In her container tip list, our container expert, Jessica recommends filling pots with a 50-50 blend of high-quality potting mix and compost. You can also DIY your own potting mix with our simple recipes.
Planting is also the right time to add slow-release organic fruit and berry fertilizer to your container. That way, you’ll feed your plants a little bit each time you water.
Planting strawberries in containers
Once you’ve assembled your strawberry plants, containers, potting mix-compost, and slow-release fertlizer, it’s time to plant! Many nurseries sell strawberry plants bareroot in spring or potted in 4 inch pots. For containers and baskets, I usually go with pre-potted strawberry plants as I only need a few and they generally are already growing well and have a head start over bareroot plants.
A typical 12 to 14 inch diameter hanging pot or basket can accommodate two to three plants. For strawberry towers or pots, tuck one plant per pocket. Plant so that the roots are covered, but the crowns of the plants are just above the soil. The crown is the short, thick stem where the foliage emerges on top and the roots below.
Water well and move your pot or basket to a location where it will get at least six to eight hours of sun every day. If you’re growing strawberries in a hanging basket, avoid hanging it in an area that receives a lot of gusty wind.
Growing healthy strawberries in pots and baskets
Ok, now that you’re growing strawberries in pots, planters, or baskets, it’s time to consider maintenance. Like all container plants, you’re in charge of watering, fertilizing, protecting, and, at the end of the season, prepping the pots for winter.
- Watering – Water regularly, especially when the plants are fruiting to ensure good-quality berries. Don’t overwater however. If you’re not sure if your pot needs to be watered, stick your finger into the soil to see if it’s still damp about an inch deep. If it is, don’t water. If it feels dry, water.
- Fertilizing – I like to work in a slow-release organic fertilizer when I plant, but you can also use an organic liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks over the growing season (read package directions for specific instructions).
- Pruning runners – Some varieties of strawberries produce runners which look nice when cascading down the side of a pot, but they do take energy away from the plant, reducing yield. Snip runners with sharp hand pruners as they appear to encourage maximum fruit production.
- Protecting the harvest – My container strawberries are bothered by fewer pests, diseases and even birds than my in-ground plants, but that doesn’t mean these things can’t occur. Keep an eye on your plants and if birds become a problem, drape the pots or baskets with bird netting.
- Winter care – In my northern region, strawberry plants won’t overwinter outside in pots and baskets. You can move them to a sheltered location like an unheated garage or basement. Do check every few weeks to see if the soil has dried out, watering where necessary. Or, you can pop them out of their container and tuck them into a garden bed to overwinter. Cover them with a mulch of straw or shredded leaves for added protection.
Are you growing strawberries in pots or baskets this season?
For further reading on growing plants in pots, be sure to check out these articles:
- Organic fertilizers for container gardening
- Container vegetable plants: the best varieties for success
- Growing berries in containers
- The 7 best herbs for container gardening