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-bearing varieties and ever-bearing strawberries.
- Everbearing 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.
- Alpine strawberries – These pint-sized strawberries may be small on size, but they’re big on taste! The berries grow about an inch long and offer a luscious pineapple-strawberry flavor. The plants form compact clumps that don’t take over the garden making this a great edging plant in food and flower gardens. I also grow alpine strawberries in pots and planters where they can persist for many years.
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.
For a sunny deck or patio, there are some very cool stackable strawberry pots, hanging planters, or baskets for strawberries. Even fabric bags can be used to grow strawberry plants.
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 full sun: at least six to eight hours of direct light each day. If you’re growing strawberries in a hanging basket, avoid hanging it in an area that receives a lot of gusty wind.
Growing strawberries in pots and baskets
Ok, now that you’re growing strawberries in pots, planters, window boxes, 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 strawberries in pots
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. Moist soil means don’t water. Dry soil means it’s time to water.
Fertilizing potted strawberries
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 strawberry runners
Some varieties of strawberries produce lots of 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 fruit 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.
Caring for potted strawberries in winter
In my northern region, strawberry plants won’t overwinter outside in pots and baskets. You can move the pots to a sheltered location like an unheated garage or basement. Do check every few weeks to see if the soil has dried out, watering when 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:
- How to grow alpine strawberries from seeds or transplants
- Organic fertilizers for container gardening
- Container vegetable plants: the best varieties for success
- Growing berries in containers
LOL! am I growing strawberries? well! back in February, I lost my mind and ordered 75 (yes, 75!) plants, both June & everbearing – and I already had a nice grouping of June bearing & everbearing plants. Gamely, I soldiered on, planting. and planting. and planting. Finally gave up and gave a friend the last 15 plants. I have an entire raised bed devoted to them – here’s hoping I get a decent harvest!
This is my first year trying to grow berries. I bought 3 baskets, each have 3-4 plants. I potted 3 runners (left attached to mama) and snipped the rest. I plan to move some of them to my raised beds which have space where my spinach bolted. In fall, I plan to dedicate 2 4×4 raised beds to strawberries.I’m a bit worried about pests though.
Next spring I’ll also buy a few more for pots. . I’ve already had squirrels or something chew off some stems while the baskets were on my deck steps. I’ve moved them up since then. I read elsewhere that container grown strawberries don’t produce as well. Is that true?
I read somewhere else that the container vs bedded plants is due to care. ie roots are better warmed in the ground, and less susceptible to too much heat or cold (thus why wrapping your pots or helping them in the winter is essential). As well, many people do container gardening but do not fertilize, and so nutrients are not replenished as often (another reason it is recommended).
Moira Fraser says
Can I over winter my potted strawberry plants by planting them into a raised bed and covering with mulch?
It depends where you are of course, but I had great success with this method last winter in zone 5B and will definitely be doing the same this winter. Be sure to use something light like straw (leaves can get a bit too heavy and might smother/rot the plants).
Sharon Bratt says
I live in Alberta, Canada. Winter temps definitely dip below -20C. Can I still leave my plants in the unheated garage? Also, if I bring them inside how do I avoid bringing in aphids and other pests?
Niki Jabbour says
You could likely keep them in your garage if you stored them in a box filled with straw to further insulate them. Or, if you planted the pot (container and all) in a garden and covered that with a deep layer of straw or leaves. If you bring them indoors, you’ll need to check for pests and keep them under grow-lights. There’s not enough winter light when you place them just in a sunny window. – Niki
I am brand new to gardening. For Mother’s Day, my daughter bought me two strawberry plants. They look healthy. Do I replant them into another planter pot or can I leave them in the pots they came in? Thank you in advance for your reply.
Jackie Lynn says
What is the best way to transplant strawberry hanging plants
What happens when the strawberry plant flowers do you leave it or what do you do ?
Niki Jabbour says
That’s good… flowers turn into berries. Just leave them 🙂