How to grow strawberries
Nothing beats the taste of succulent home-grown strawberries
Strawberries are a summertime staple, and a perfect addition to any garden or balcony. They’re also a great way to get kids into gardening as they grow in most outdoor spaces and are easy to look after.
Best time to sow from seed: January to April
Harvesting season: From June to September
Growing tip: Strawberry plants need regular watering and feeding to produce a good, juicy crop
Ideal for growing in: Raised beds or hanging baskets and containers on a sunny patio
You have lots of options when it comes to choosing where to plant your strawberries. They grow well in raised beds, borders, pots, strawberry planters and hanging baskets.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to grow your own strawberry plants from seed and plant them out into a raised bed. If you don’t want to grow yours from seed you can buy young strawberry plants in store, we’ll also tell you how to plant those out in this guide too.
You’ll need to sow your strawberry seeds between January and April and keep them undercover whilst they germinate and grow. The tiny seeds can take up to a month to germinate but will reward you with your first crop around August or September, and the plants will crop even better the following year.
When they’re big enough you can move them in to larger pots before gradually acclimatising the young plants to outside conditions.
Once they’re ready to be planted out choose a raised bed, hanging basket or container. The trick to choosing the perfect outdoor spot is plenty of sun, shelter from strong winds and well-drained soil.
To sow strawberry seeds
To plant out strawberry plants
- Strawberry plants, available in-store or grow your own from seed
- Peat-free multipurpose compost and well-rotted garden manure
- Strawberry planter
- Plant netting
- Garden canes, to support protective netting
- Fertiliser, we recommend strawberry plant food granules or a tomato feed
- Weed control fabric or straw
- Garden hand trowel
- Gardening gloves
Sow the seeds into a seed tray or small pots filled with seed compost. The seed pack will tell you how far apart and deep the seeds need to be.
Cover your seeds with a thin scattering of seed compost and gently water. Place your seeds somewhere sunny and warm like a heated greenhouse, propagator or windowsill.
After 21 to 28 days, the seedlings should appear. When they are large enough to handle (about 2cm tall), transplant each seedling into its own 7cm to 9cm pot filled with multipurpose compost.
Grow them on in a cool, but frost-free spot keeping the soil moist. In May / June, gradually accustom the young plants to outside conditions, avoiding any late frosts, before planting out into raised beds, hanging baskets or containers.
Read the next sections on how to plant strawberry plants for more information about planting out and spacing, as well as feeding and harvesting your tasty strawberries.
Strawberry hanging basket kit
This all in one kit has everything you need to get you started: seeds, a hanging basket and compost. Simply fill the basket with the compost, firm it down gently and scatter the seeds before covering with a thin layer of compost. Water and wait for your seeds to germinate before hanging outside.
Young strawberry plants can be purchased and planted out any time from March through to September, but you’ll want to make sure the ground isn’t frozen or water-logged. If you have lovingly grown your plants from seed, the young plants will be ready to plant outside during May and June. Spring planted strawberries will provide some fruit in the first year, but you’ll get more the following year once the plant has had time to bulk up and establish.
Strawberries prefer to be planted in full sun and protected from the wind in a well-drained soil. Here’s how to plant out your young plants in a raised bed.
Prepare the raised bed and dig in some manure or compost into the soil. Don’t forget to remove any weeds. If using strawberry food granules or a slow-release fertiliser, scatter the granules into the bed (following the product application instructions) and gently fork or rake the granules into the soil.
Step 2: Remove the strawberry plants from their pots and plant them in rows. The rows should be 60cm apart with the plants 30cm apart along each row. The crown of the plant is planted at soil level and firmed in.
Planting in hanging baskets
Growing strawberries in a hanging basket not only looks good, but it also helps to keep the fruits out of reach of slugs and snails. Plant about six plants around the perimeter of the hanging basket so the strawberries can tumble down over the edge. Plant more if it’s a large basket. As the fruit is off the ground there’s no need to add straw. Just remember to water daily whilst they are growing.
Water the plants in well.
Keep strawberries well watered through dry periods, but avoid over watering them. Keep the foliage, flowers and fruit as dry as possible when watering to avoid rot.
Keep the soil weed free with regular hoeing around the plants.
When the first flowers have formed into small green strawberries, feed with a liquid tomato feed.
This is also the time to place straw or a weed control fabric under the fruit trusses to prevent the fruit from lying on the damp soil and rotting.
If birds are a problem, cover the strawberry plants whilst they’re fruiting with protective netting raised above the plants with garden canes.
After harvesting your strawberries (see below), remove the netting to allow birds to pick off pests until the following year.
As long as you follow a few simple guidelines, strawberry plants are easy to look after and maintain.
When the strawberries ripen, try to pick your strawberries every couple of days. If you leave them on the plant for too long, the fruit will soon rot and, if not protected with a net, the birds will feast on them. Excess fruit is always best shared with family and friends.
Pick and enjoy fresh
Pick your strawberries gently to avoid bruising. Don’t forget to keep the green stalk in place on the fruit when picking.
When fruiting is finished on new, first-year plants, cut off all the leaves and runners to promote better growth and a larger crop for the following year.
After the second year’s crop, the established runners can be cut from the parent plant in September and rooted into new pots to make new plants for the following year.
After about three years, you will find that the quantity and quality of the strawberries is reduced. Simply pull out the older parent plants, leaving the newer plants to carry on growing and rewarding you with more, better fruit. This will keep encouraging better plants and more strawberries.
Every March, apply a slow release general fertiliser and mulch the plants with manure.