Growing bare root strawberries is easy and an economical way to establish a strawberry bed in your garden.
We moved last year, and we left behind our strawberry patch that we planted seven years prior. I never planted strawberries last year because moving takes a lot of time, but this year, I put planting bare root strawberries on my to-do list for the spring.
I love having a strawberry garden bed. While picking strawberries at U-pick farms nearby is a fun family activity, it’s not cheap, and our family eats a lot of strawberry jam.
We use at least one to two dozen jars of strawberry jam a year, so I need plenty of strawberries. Plus, we like strawberry jelly, strawberry pie, and so many other delicious recipes that use strawberries.
Not having a strawberry bed isn’t an option, so I planted the beds this year. I want to show you how to plant bare root strawberries in your garden. Best of all, if you want to add fruits to your small homestead, strawberries are one of the best choices because they grow so well in containers!
What are Bare Root Strawberries?
If you buy strawberry plants at your local garden nursery, chances are you’ll have actual plants, so you might wonder – what are bare root strawberries and why should I plant them?
Bare root strawberry plants are dormant plants that aren’t in soil. They look like shriveled up roots with some wilted foliage attached; you might be skeptical that it will survive once planted in the ground.
Online garden nurseries and seed companies typically sell bare roots because they’re much easier to ship. I purchased our bare root strawberry plants from Stark Bro’s; their quality is excellent!
Before you try planting bare root strawberries, make sure you have a healthy plant that is alive, even if it doesn’t look like it. Your bare roots should meet these standards.
- Absolutely no signs of mold or mildew should be on the plant.
- Make sure it doesn’t smell musty or rotten.
- It should be free from damage with foliage intact.
- The roots should not be light or dried out entirely; they should be heavy and slightly damp.
When Should I Plant Bare Root Strawberries?
While strawberry plants often need to be planted after the danger of frost passes, bare root strawberries should be done sooner. It’s best to plant them in late March or early April. If you plant in May or June, you won’t get a crop at all that year, even if you plant overbearing plants.
You won’t receive a harvest from June bearing strawberry plants the first year anyway, so make sure you know what type of strawberries you’re growing.
The 3 Types of Strawberries to Grow
When you grow bare root strawberries, you get to pick what type of strawberry plants you want in your garden. Here are the three types you have to consider.
1. June-Bearing Strawberries
The most popular type of strawberries grown are June-bearing plants. The berries ripen over the course of four to five weeks in the early summer. You can expect a huge harvest from these plants during these weeks.
When growing June-bearing strawberries, expect the plants to produce the largest berries compared to the other types. They also produce a large number of runners, which are baby strawberry plants. You can use these strawberries to make strawberry jam, strawberry jelly, or eat them fresh.
2. Ever-Bearing Strawberries
I’m not sure why they call these plants ever-bearing because they don’t actually produce strawberries all year long. They typically have two large harvest: mid-summer and early fall.
When compared to June-bearing strawberries, ever-bearing plants produce much smaller berries and fewer runners. The berries are still delicious and perfect for preservation.
3. Day Neutral Strawberries
These are the plants that should be called ever-bearing, in my opinion. If you want fresh strawberries from spring until fall, these are the plants you want in your garden.
However, these tend to be the least popular choice for gardeners and homesteaders.
First, they are more ideal for fresh eating than preservation. If your goal is to preserve the strawberries, you’ll have to wait a longer time to get enough strawberries to make batches of jams or jellies.
Second, these plants produce the smallest strawberries out of the three types. So, if you’re looking for big, juicy berries, don’t plant day-neutral plants.
Last, these plants don’t produce many runners at all. That can be bad or good. It means they’re much easier to maintain; they won’t spread all of your garden beds. The downside is that they aren’t producing new plants for you, so some people grow day-neutral strawberries as annuals rather than perennials.
Consider growing a combination of these strawberries. Grow some June-bearing strawberries so you have berries to preserve in the early spring. Then, add some ever-bearing and day-neutral so that you can enjoy strawberries throughout the summer and fall as well.
Planting Bare Root Strawberries
Your goal should be to plant your bare roots as soon as you receive or buy them; they won’t break their dormancy period until planted in the ground. However, sometimes, you don’t plan well, and you have the roots earlier than you’re able to plant.
Make sure to store your bare roots in a cool, dark location, and mist the roots regularly. You don’t want the roots to dry up.
1. Prepare Your Garden Bed
Before you start planting bare root strawberries, you need to prepare a well-draining garden bed with plenty of compost mixed in the soil. Strawberry plants require full sunlight, meaning they need six to eight hours of sunlight per day.
For best results, plant your strawberries in a sandy, loamy soil that is at least 12 inches deep. This gives the roots time to spread out and grow into the ground.
Keep the soil pH range between 6.0-6.5, but some say a range from 5.5 to 7.0 works as well.
2. Soak the Roots
When you’re ready to plant, soak the bare roots for 30 minutes to one hour beforehand. You don’t need to submerge the entire plant, just the roots. I put some water in a large bowl and place the bare roots into the bowl. Soaking the roots dehydrates them and helps to break their dormancy cycle.
3. Trim the Roots
I always trim the roots when I’m planting bare root strawberries. You should cut the roots back by 1/4 to 1/3, but not more than that.
Trimming the roots helps to prevent overcrowding of the roots and stimulates new growth.
Also, take this time to carefully separate the roots, untangling them, and this is a good time to examine the plants you have.
You’ll see that the bottom of the bare roots is the roots. This is what needs to be buried under the ground. In the middle, there is the crown, a hard round ball where all the roots connect. The crown needs to stay above the ground, and then there is the new plant on top.
4. Dig a Hole for the Strawberry Plant
Dig a hole that is six to eight inches deep and two times as wide as the length of the roots. They need space to spread out in the next step.
When planting multiple strawberry plants, each plant should be spaced 18 inches apart with rows that are three feet apart. Remember that June-bearing plants will produce runners, so each “mother” plant typically has three to four child plants from that. You need to leave space for those.
5. Spread Out the Roots and Plant
Fan out the roots, spreading them out in all directions. It’s easy to do this one side at a time. Once all of the roots are fanned out, cover the plants with soil, leaving the crown and leaves on the top of the plant exposed.
Never bury the crown of the strawberry plant!
Planting your bare root strawberries at the right depth is important. Keeping the crown just at soil level is vital; if you plant them too deeply, you’ll damage the fruit and runner production. It will affect your plant’s overall health.
6. Water and Mulch
Strawberry plants like to be kept well-watered, and it requires patience to grow strawberries. Unlike tomatoes, you won’t see your harvest for about a year, and if you’re growing everbearing strawberries that produce in the fall, you’ll only have. small harvest in the first year.
It often takes time for strawberry plants to establish, so don’t give up hope. Continue to water them regularly, and an occasional watering with fish emulsion helps the growth.
You should also mulch the strawberry plants soon. You often see strawberry farms using black plastic, but I prefer to use wood shavings. Use whatever mulch you want, but mulching helps to reduce weed growth and retains moisture in the soil.
7. Remove All First-Year Blossoms
It feels disheartening, but you should remove all the blossoms in the first year on your June-bearing plants. Doing this feels terrible; you’re removing future berries! The goal is to tell the plant to focus its time on growing and establishing rather than fruiting.
If you’re growing everbearing or day neutral berries, this is different. Remove the spring blossoms until mid-July, and then let the rest of the blossoms develop into a harvest in the fall. You’ll have a smallll harvest
FAQs about Bare Root Strawberries
How Long Does It Take for Bare Root Strawberries to Grow?
If you water your strawberry plants for several weeks, you’ll start to see new growth within two to three weeks after planting. Planting in the early or mid-spring will lead to full plants by early summer.
Will Bare Root Strawberry Plants Produce the First Year?
It depends on what type of strawberry plant you grow. If you plant June-bearing strawberries, you won’t have a harvest in the first year. You’ll receive your first harvest in the following June.
If you plant overbearing or day neutral strawberries, you’ll have some strawberries in the early fall. The harvest won’t be large, but you’ll have some delicious berries to enjoy!
How Often Do You Water Bare Root Strawberries?
Strawberry plants need plenty of regular water to thrive and produce berries; berries are comprised of mostly water after all! Your plants need to receive one to two inches of water daily, which is why most gardeners use drip or soaker hoses.
Can You Grow Bare Root Strawberries in Containers?
Absolutely! Strawberry plants LOVE growing in containers or raised beds because the loose, rich soil is their best friend. I prefer to plant strawberries in raised beds or containers rather than in my large in-ground garden because you have to loosen the soil so far down.
When you grow bare root strawberries in containers, make sure you add plenty of compost and keep the pH range between 6.0-6.5 for ideal growth. Make sure you position the containers somewhere that the berries will receive eight hours of sunlight.
However, growing any plant in containers or raised beds means that the plants need to be watered more often. So, don’t let your strawberries dry out too much.
Try Growing Strawberries
Strawberries are one of the first fruit plants that most people try growing in their garden because they’re so easy. If you want to expand your fruit production without breaking the bank, try planting bare root strawberries. These plants grow fast, and since you often receive 25+ plants in a bundle, it’s the cheapest way to make a strawberry garden!