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Planting Guides

How to Grow Strawberries in 5 Simple Steps

Nothing beats the taste of fresh homegrown strawberries in the summertime! Strawberry plants are a great crop for beginner gardeners; they’re super easy to plant and will keep growing year after year. In this guide, I’m going to cover 5 simple steps on how to grow strawberries, as well as include a few tips of my own to ensure you maximise your harvest come summertime.

I’ve also included a short video below of us planting strawberries in our new strawberry patch this year. Watch out for a certain uninvited guest that appeared partway through filming!

5 Steps for How to Grow Strawberries

1) Choose a Sunny Spot, Plant in Winter

Wintertime is the time to plant strawberries. Generally speaking, in warmer areas of New Zealand plant sometime between June and September (around the time you start longing for hot summer days!). In cooler climates where it’s likely to snow, aim to plant in August/September.

When choosing a spot to plant your strawberries, select a location that has full sun. A minimum of 6 hrs of sunlight is fine, but 9 or 10hrs is ideal. More sunlight will ensure bigger, more flavoursome fruit.

Strawberry plants have shallow roots which makes them a great crop to grow in garden beds. They also grow well in pots, hanging baskets or any form of container. I’ve seen people grow strawberries in old gutters, a retired wheelbarrow, even an old compost bin makes a great vessel for strawberry plants.

Access to Water is Key!

A quick side note here…One year I tried growing strawberry plants in vertical hanging pockets on my deck. Strawberries need to be watered regularly. In the heat of summer, they probably needed watering at least twice a day as they were in full sun. I watered everyday but with so little soil in the pockets, they dried out too quickly. In the end I got one single strawberry out of 9 plants that year!

So just a recommendation, if you’re considering a vertical garden but don’t think you’ll remember to water twice a day, it might be worth investing in a self watering planter. Otherwise try and find room in a garden bed. This way you can really enjoy an abundant crop over summer!

2) Prepare the Soil & Add Compost

As with all veggie gardening, the better the soil the better your plants will grow. If you refer back to my beginners gardening guide you’ll remember food is a key ingredient that plants need to thrive.

Once you’ve cleared all weeds and roots from your strawberry patch, add compost to the soil. Turn it over with a spade to mix it through evenly. In the video above we found a resident rat was living near our home compost bin who didn’t appreciate being disturbed!

If you have some sheep pellets, these also make a great addition to the soil. You can also buy purpose-made strawberry food called Strawberry Mix in bags from your local garden centre. This is high in potassium to encourage strawberry plants to fruit.

3) Create Mounds for Your Plants

Planting strawberries in a garden bed

Strawberry plants don’t like getting their feet wet so creating mounds about 4 inches (10cm) high and 15.5 inches (40cm) apart is a great way to help with drainage and prevent ground fruit from rotting.

Run mounds north to south in your garden to optimise the sun hitting your plants.

Allow 12 inches (30cm) between each strawberry plant. Before planting, consider soaking strawberry seedlings in an organic seaweed solution to give them an extra boost. Alternatively, in the video, I added some slow-release fertiliser to each hole before I planted my plants. Again this is all to maximise the nutrients in the soil and encourage a good crop for summer.

Garden Tip! After you plant, pick the first flowers that bud so that the plant focuses its energy on growth instead.

4) Cover with Straw

Seeing as the strawberry plant itself is named after ‘straw’, I would suggest it’s a rather necessary addition to a strawberry patch!

Adding pea straw works four-fold; it locks in moisture, prevents pests, minimises weeds, and help prevent fruit from rotting if it’s touching the ground.

After planting, spread straw evenly across your strawberry patch (or pot) and right up to the base of each plant.

Don’t make the mistake of using hay like I did one year. The hay was too fresh and started growing grass all through my strawberry patch!

5) Protect from Birds & Bugs

When you notice your plants beginning to flower, it’s time to bird proof your strawberry patch. If you don’t, the word will soon get out on ‘twitter’ and the local bird club will be feasting on all your hard work! A quick Google or Pinterest search will give you some great tools for bird proofing your berry crop.

Slugs and snails are also keen strawberry addicts. Straw is one way to prevent these guys from sneaking around, but if you do notice a lot of them there are a few different pest control solutions:

  1. Spread some snail and slug pellets around each plant, or for a more natural solution create a beer trap.
  2. To make a beer trap, simply dig a small plastic cup into the ground so it’s sitting at ground level. Then fill it with beer. Snails and slugs love the stuff! Just don’t forget to change it regularly or it will start to stink!

The great thing about growing strawberries is that once you’ve planted them you can more or less leave them to it. But to ensure a bumper crop come summer, here are my top strawberry growing tips.

person picking strawberries in a strawberry patch
Cover your strawberry patch with netting when the fruit starts to come on (although it won’t protect them from little people)

6 Tips on How to Grow Strawberries

  1. Plant 5 plants per person to ensure enough strawberries to go around.
  2. Water, water, water!
  3. Feed regularly (every 4-6 weeks) with a seaweed solution or potash rich fertiliser to boost plant growth. When flowers appear this is the most important time to fertilise so they focus their energy in producing berries!
  4. When possible, it’s a good idea to plant different varieties of strawberries to maximise the harvesting window.
  5. Over summer your plants will start to produce runners (offshoots from the main plant). You can pick these and plant them directly in the soil to grow a new strawberry plant. Whether you replant them or not, it’s a good idea to remove runners while the plant is fruiting so that it directs all its energy into growing fruit.
  6. Strawberry plants are perennials which means they’ll keep producing year after year. Compared to the first year, the second year and third year will be your best yield, but they should continue to produce after that. Some say to replace your plants every three years but see how you go as there are many different conditions and strawberry varieties out there.

FAQ’s for How to Grow Strawberries

What is the best way to grow strawberries?

To grow strawberries successfully, choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil, space plants 12-18 inches apart, and keep the soil consistently moist. Regular watering is key! Add pea straw to suppress weeds and fertilize in spring and after the first harvest. In addition, it’s a good idea to remove runners and old foliage for better fruit production. Watch for pests and diseases, using organic bug sprays as needed.

Do strawberries grow better in pots or ground?

Strawberries can thrive in both pots and the ground, but each has its benefits. Growing strawberries in pots is ideal for small spaces and offers control over soil quality, making it suitable for balconies or limited outdoor areas. On the other hand, planting strawberries in the ground allows for natural spreading, potentially higher yields, and access to natural soil nutrients. Ground planting also provides better moisture retention.

What month is best to plant strawberries?

The best time to plant strawberries depends on your climate. In most regions, planting in early spring or late summer to early fall is ideal. This allows the plants to establish before the harsh conditions of winter or summer. Check your local frost dates and aim to plant strawberries 4-6 weeks before the last frost in spring or in late summer to early fall for a fall harvest.

What’s the difference between using pea straw and hay on strawberries?

Pea straw and hay are both commonly used as mulch for strawberries, but there are some differences between the two. Pea straw is made from the leftover stems and leaves of pea plants after harvesting the peas. It’s lightweight, easy to spread, and rich in nitrogen, which can benefit the soil.

Hay, on the other hand, is typically made from grasses such as timothy, alfalfa, or clover. It’s heavier and denser than pea straw and may contain seeds that can sprout and become weeds (as I have personally experienced!)

While both can suppress weeds, retain moisture, and protect strawberries from soil splashing onto the fruit, pea straw is often preferred for its nutrient content and weed-free nature.

Final Words on How to Grow Strawberries

Other than that, all that’s left to do is wait for summer! When it comes to learning how to grow strawberries, these 5 simple steps will set you up for a productive harvest. Happy planting everyone!

profile picture of Gabrielle

About the Author

Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.

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Home-grown strawberries are the best! Read on to follow my 5 simple steps on how to grow strawberries at home, as well as my proven tips to maximise your harvest this summer! Everything a beginner vegetable gardener needs to know to ensure success. #howtogrowstrawberries #growingstrawberries