Strawberries do well in many climates and are happy in containers (http://gardening.about.com/od/berries/qt/How-To-Grow-Strawberry-Plants-In-Pots.htm),
but all varieties require full sun and a fair amount of water. Before heading to the nursery, consider which of the three main types is best for you. (Don't worry, there are hundreds of fun subtypes.)
- This type will give you one crop early in the season (late May-early June).
- These plants will produce berries in 3-4 growing cycles throughout the growing season, but are more susceptible to cold weather than day-neutral varieties.
- Developed from everbearing plants, these produce berries continuously throughout the summer months because they produce flower buds regardless of the length of the day.
Care and Feeding
- All strawberries like soil that drains well, so prepare your strawberry bed with plenty of compost and fertilize with a balanced mixture (look for a bag that says, “10-10-10”). If you’re using containers, buy potting mix – not potting soil, which is too dense.
- You’ll need to keep the soil moist but not soggy, so prepare to water often – especially the first few weeks as plants are getting established.
- Fertilizing when you plant and then every 3-5 weeks will keep plants happy and productive. Use compost or a balanced packaged mixture (again, look for “10-10-10” on the bag).
- If you live in an area that gets harsh winters, you’ll need to mulch the roots or bring pots into a garage so plants can go dormant without freezing.
- Keep in mind that all strawberry plants are short-lived perennials, so you’ll need to replace them roughly every three years if you decide to plant them in your yard.
Five Fun Facts:
- Strawberries are technically not a fruit -- they're engorged stem ends. Botanically speaking, each seed on the outside is an individual fruit.
- There’s a strawberry museum in Belgium.
- California produces roughly 2 billion strawberries a year.
- Home-grown berries taste better because the sugars haven’t started breaking down into starch. (This starch is what makes grocery store berries grainy and tart.)
- You can attend strawberry festivals in 37 U.S. states; 12 take place in New York state alone.
Five Historical Facts:
- The word “strawberry” most likely comes from the combination of “strewn” and “berry” because of how the plants' runners scatter berries across a wide area. (The alternate theory is that it comes from the practice of protecting plants from frost by covering them with straw.)
- Native Americans were eating tiny wild strawberries by the time the first settlers arrived. They were also already linking them with love -- the Cherokee credit them for creating harmony between First Man and First Woman.
- The French have cultivated strawberries since the 1300s. They accidentally cross-pollinated hardy North American and big-berried Chilean strains in the 1700s to create the variety from which most modern hybrids descend.
- English horticulturalists created roughly 25 new varieties of strawberries between the late 1700s and early 1800s.
- The first intentionally bred American strawberry variety was created by Charles Hovey in 1834. He named it, unimaginatively, the Hovey.