If you ask people what their favourite summertime berry is… odds are they will say Strawberry. These delightful tasty berries are easy to grow and are small enough that they can be grown in pots, gardens or even hanging baskets. In this short article, we’ll introduce you to Strawberries and some of the many varieties available at Art’s Nursery.
Strawberries belong to the Fragraria genus of plants and are one of the most popular fruits for fresh eating, cooking, jams, jellies and desserts. They grow to about 6 inches high and have semi-evergreen leaves comprised of three leaflets with serrated edges.
Types of Strawberries
There are three different groups of Strawberries:
- June Bearing Strawberries
- Ever Bearing Strawberries
- Alpine/Wild Strawberries
June Bearing Strawberries are also called Spring Bearing varieties. They respond to increasing amount of daylight and shortening nights by producing flowers and setting a large heavy crop of berries in late spring to early summer depending on your location. June Bearing varieties tend to be much sweeter than other varieties. They may also produce a small crop in the fall when days begin to shorten and nights get longer. These types tend to send out more runners than do ever-bearing varieties.
Ever bearing Strawberries, also called “Day Neutral” varieties, produce a smaller, steady stream of berries in Summer through to the Fall. As long as temperatures are between 35-85F (basically above freezing and below 30C), they will continue to produce flowers and fruit. Ever bearing varieties tend to produce the most in the first year. Their disadvantage is that they don’t ripen as many fruits at one time and while they may be juicier, they may not be as sweet as June-Bearing types.
Alpine Strawberries (Fragraria vesca)
Alpine Strawberries, Fragraria vesca, is also called Fraise de Bois. These plants tend to produce much smaller berries, but are packed with incredible flavor. They are day-neutral and produce most heavily in late summer. Some varieties are available as seed or ornamental types may be sold as groundcovers. Alpine strawberries do not normally produce runners, but will self-seed. Generally speaking, Alpines are easier to grow and need less fertile soil and moisture than do other types of strawberries.
Strawberries need a location with full sun, but most do not do well in hot, dry conditions. Excessive heat and dryness also encourages Spider Mites. Strawberries thrive in very rich, moist, but well drained soil. Elevated, well drained loam or sandy loam is preferable. Amend the soil with well rotted manure or compost for added benefit.
Air circulation is also important. Give plants more space between plantings and the better they will do. 12-24 inches between plants is ideal.
All Strawberries benefit from a healthy application of bonemeal at planting time. For June Bearing varieties, apply a balanced all purpose or fruit tree/berry food a few weeks after planting, but before flower and berries begin to form. For Ever-bearing types, fertilize more often up until mid-summer to encourage a steady stream of fruit. We’ve seen lots of good results from using Kelp as a foliar feed throughout the season.
Strawberries are short lived. They decline in production after 3-4 years. For a continuous crop, plant a few new ones every year and remove old ones from your garden. Most varieties will renew themselves on their own by sending out long thin “runners” that will root and create new strawberry plants for you. Just sever the stem once the new plants are rooted, and enjoy them in place, or dig and re-locate them.
June bearing varieties also benefit from pinching first year blooms to ensure a better crop in the second year.
As mentioned, strawberries need a fair amount of moisture, about an inch a week is common. However, avoid getting the leaves wet as this can lead to mold and disease. Mold is one of the most common problems facing strawberry growers. Good hygiene is the key to prevention. Provide good air circulation, avoid excess moisture on the leaves and remove any overripe or moldy fruits as soon as you can.
Winter Strawberry Care
In the Fall, tidy up the area and remove old leaves to prevent pests and disease. Discard excess or unwanted runners. Cover your strawberry plants with straw just before frost. This helps prevent injury from low temperatures. Remove the mulch in Spring as growth begins and the chances of frost have declined.
Common Strawberry Varieties
June Bearing Varieties
AllStar Strawberries produce a very large, light orange to red berry with sweet red flesh. It’s a large, vigorous plant that can produce many runners. Mid-Season. Fruit is extra juicy and can be as large as plums.
Cavendish strawberry delivers tremendous yields and many runners. Berries are very large and dark red in colour. Flavour is good. Originally from Nova Scotia. Long fruiting season.
This June and Fall producing strawberry is known for its periodic production through the growing season. Exceptionally aromatic berries are large, sweet and have an excellent flavor. Yields are heavy at times
This variety features dark green leaves and produces many runners. Very productive and vigorous, its berries are bright red, slightly tart and very large. Long picking season
Kent Strawberry is a mid-season, high yielding variety with large berries and excellent flavor. A vigorous grower that produces berries great for fresh eating
Quinault Strawberry features medium sized berries with good flavor that are periodically produced throughout the growing season. Fruits can appear as early as 4-5 weeks after planting.
Totem Strawberry is a mid-season produces of a heavy crop of large berries with a good, rich flavor. One of the most popular varieties for the Pacific Northwest
Ever Bearing Strawberry Varieties
Albion is one of the best varieties for U-Pick fields. Fruits emerge from May through October and deliver a heavy yield of medium sized berries with excellent flavor
EverSweet strawberries are exceptionally sweet and flavourful. Yields are good and the berries very large. A good heat resistant plant.
A lesser known variety amongst home gardeners that is better suited for cooler climates. Delivers a very heavy yield of medium sized berries with excellent flavor.
Seascape is a medium sized strawberry that is both vigorous and high yielding. Berries are very large, bright red, firm and sweet. Harvest from early summer through fall. Peak fruiting occurs between August and Early September. Best flavor when grown with enough hear.
Tristar is a reliable heavy cropper with medium sized, but sweet berries. Great for fresh eating. Harvest from summer through fall. Dislikes excessive summer heat, but can produce a large fall crop.
How To Buy Strawberry Plants
You buy strawberry plants in a number of ways. In early spring, strawberry runners, or small roots are available in packs of 1o or 25 depending on the variety. This is a good, inexpensive way to start growing strawberries. If you want some of the guesswork removed, you can purchase small starter plants, usually in 4 inch pots by April. Larger plants are usually available year-round in our small fruit section at Arts Nursery. Please call ahead if you are looking for a specific variety as the selection is always changing depending on availability and season.
Want to Know More?
Join April 1, 2017 for our Root To Fruit, How to Grow Edibles At Home event. This casual event happens from 11am-3:00pm with Q&A and sessions on seeding, growing herbs and veg, small fruits and berries as well as planting and caring for fruit trees. Hope to see you there!