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Planting Bare Root Strawberries - The Ultimate Guide

Written by Reinhart Elboeck


Posted on February 21 2024

Planting bare root strawberry plants adds a delightful addition to any garden, offering sweet, juicy fruit throughout the growing season. In this article, we are going to cover everything you could possibly need to know to navigate planting bare root strawberries.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • When to plant bare root strawberries
  • Planting bare root strawberries in containers 
  • Starting bare root strawberries indoors
  • How deep to plant bare root strawberries
  • How far apart to plant bare root strawberries
  • What to do with your strawberry plants in winter
  • Best soil for strawberries
  • Pinching off strawberry flowers

and many other relevant considerations for your success!


When to Plant Bare Root Strawberries

We are starting with when to plant bare root strawberries because this is arguably the most important variable to take into consideration. 

The good news is, you can plant bare root strawberries anytime! There is no bad news either, just a few important key steps depending on your current climate. 

If it is either freezing or above 85 degrees where you are currently, then you need to start your bare root strawberries indoors for two weeks before you start to acclimate them to the outdoors. Please read that again if you missed that, because it is that important! 

On the flip side, as you have probably already assumed, if it is not freezing or over 85 degrees where you are planting, then you are good to plant bare root strawberry plants outdoors! 


What to do When you Receive Bare Root Strawberry Plants

Don’t stress! If you’re ready to plant your bare root strawberry plants now, then feel free to put them straight into your growing medium! If you’re not quite ready to grow your bare root strawberries, place them in the fridge in a breathable bag. This will keep them dormant and fresh for weeks.

If you opt for the latter, just make sure to check them regularly. Mold and rotting crowns are inevitable in time. 


Fundamentals of Planting Bare Root Strawberry Plants

Regardless of when or how you grow bare root strawberries, there are a few fundamentals that need to be followed.


How Deep to Plant Bare Root Strawberries

Bare root strawberry plants are composed of the roots, crown, and leaves (but not always when you first receive them). It is very important to only bury the roots while leaving the crown exposed. If you bury the crown, you run an incredibly high risk of the crown rotting and your strawberry plant dying. 


Grow Strawberries Elevated

When growing strawberries in a pot or the ground, you always want the soil around the strawberry plant to be mounded. You might opt for rows if you are planting many strawberry plants outdoors, or you could create a single mound for one strawberry plant growing in a pot.

The only time you do not do this process is when you can’t. An example would be planting in a tiered planting pot.


Best Soil for Strawberries

Best Soil for Strawberries

The best soil for strawberries is sandy loam soil. Making your own strawberry plant soil is super easy and for this reason coupled with better success, is why we typically recommend it. Find a potting soil that you like and get course play sand from your local hardware store. Mix approximately 30% sand and 70% potting soil and you’re done!


How Far Apart to Plant Bare Root Strawberries

Plant bare root strawberry plants approximately 8”-10” apart. If you are planting multiple strawberry rows, space the rows approximately 1 ½’ to 2’ apart. 


How Much to Water Bare Root Strawberries

Overwatering is common and easily done. This can stunt your bare root strawberries or even cause them to rot at the crown! When growing bare root strawberries in containers, you will want to allow roughly the first inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Based on our experience, this means you will be watering approximately every 3-4 days indoors. 

Watering bare root strawberries outdoors is much harder to predict because everyone's climate is different. Using the rule of thumb above and monitoring temperature will help though! If your temperature rises above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, you will want to water your strawberry plants more frequently. 


Starting Bare Root Strawberries Indoors

After reading, you have decided to start your bare root strawberries indoors. Great! The first step to planting bare root strawberries in containers is to figure out what container to choose. 

If your plan is to start your bare root strawberry plants indoors to get them ready for the ground, then any pot or container the roots can fit into is generally fine. Solo cups actually make an easy and economical choice. If you go this route, you don’t even need to cut a drainage hole in the bottom! Just make sure to not overwater. 

If your plan is to grow bare root strawberries indoors and then keep them in their current container, then you will need a slightly larger container. The container should be large enough to accommodate the roots currently on your bare root strawberry plant while providing enough room to allow for ample growth of the roots. 

A common choice for container grown bare root strawberries are tiered pots that allow multiple strawberry plants to hang over. These can be a great choice, but be careful to not over water; as it is easy to do so in these tiered planters. Unfortunately many of our customers run into these issues which is why we are telling you to be careful!

If you choose this route, the best tiered pot choices are made out of felt or terracotta because these will allow extra airflow to the roots. Again though, nothing can fix overwatering!


How Long to Grow Bare Root Strawberries Indoors

If your climate is not conducive to growing bare root strawberries right after receiving them, then you will need to start them for two weeks indoors before beginning to acclimate them to the outdoors. 


Acclimating Bare Root Strawberries to the Outdoors

Congratulations! You have successfully started your bare root strawberries indoors and now would like to transition them outdoors. We recommend giving this process about a week if your schedule permits. 

Acclimating bare root strawberries to your climate is about playing with the time of day and observing your strawberries for any negative changes. 

If you started your bare root strawberries indoors due to the heat, place them outdoors in the mornings and/or evenings to start. This will avoid the harsh afternoon sun. Depending on the temperature in the morning and evenings, you can choose to place them in full sun immediately or not. Again, always be observant. There is no perfect rule or climate. 

On the flipside, if you started your bare root strawberries indoors due to the cold, place them outside in full sun during the afternoon. 

Keep doing this process for a week while exposing them more and more to the elements. If they continue to stay healthy, you can start planting your bare root strawberry plants in the ground!


Planting Bare Root Strawberry Plants Outdoors

Planting Bare Root Strawberries Outdoors

We have already covered much of the process for planting bare root strawberries outdoors. Follow the fundamentals you learned above and you will be good to go. However, here is one consideration:


Mulching your Strawberry Beds and Rows

Mulching your strawberries prevents weeds, rotting berries, retains moisture, retains heat and can contribute to a proper pH balance. Pine straw, wheat straw, and straw mulch are popular options. If you can’t easily obtain any of these, using regular mulch will work just fine too in our experience. 


Growing Bare Root Strawberries

Strawberry plants are very hardy and once planted and established, they will automatically harden to the seasons in most climates. Nutrient rich soil and feeding according to your strawberries growth schedule; such as everbearing strawberry plant varieties, day neutral strawberry plants, and June bearing strawberry plants, is always good practice. 


Pinching Off Strawberry Flowers

Pinching Off Strawberry Flowers

You may have heard that you should pinch off the first strawberry flowers. Unless you are a strawberry farm solely focused on strawberry production, you do not need to do this. If you do though, you will get more strawberries during your next harvest time! 

Pinching off strawberry flowers essentially keeps the strawberry plants in a vegetative growth stage. This means it will continue to put its efforts into establishing its roots and growing larger, more robust, green growth. 

When your strawberry plants start to produce flowers, the plant has to stop much of this vegetative growth to accommodate for the berry production, thus using its nutrients. This could mitigate your berry production if your strawberry plants have not grown a robust root system and sturdy enough frame!

If you do decide to pinch off flowers, you would do this during your first harvest time. As mentioned above, there are three categories of strawberry plants that will determine when they produce berries. 

For example, if you pinch the flowers off of everbearing bearing strawberry plants, you will have to wait until either late spring/early summer or early fall for your next harvest depending on when you pinched off the flowers. The next harvest will be bigger than it would have been though!


What to do With Your Strawberry Plants in Winter

Strawberry plants will “harden off” as winter sets in, but this doesn’t mean you should leave them unattended too; especially if you commonly see temperatures below 20 degrees. 

Mulching as stated above is your first line of defense. If you are expecting consistent temperatures below 20 degrees, your second step will be to cover your strawberry plants.

To cover your strawberry plants, you can put loose straw about 3”-5” thick over top of them. If you choose this option, it is extremely important you use a mulching material that will not compact and suffocate your strawberry plants.

Other cover options are plastic sheeting or plastic hoops overtop of your plants, essentially creating a greenhouse effect. 


Planting Bare Root Strawberry Plants Conclusion

Planting bare root strawberry plants is fun and easy with a few simple practices when needed. Strawberry plants are extremely tough plants. When cared for properly, you will have tons of great strawberries for years to come!



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