Planting bare root strawberries is a simple process that will save you money and help you establish a large strawberry patch very quickly.
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In the 20 or so years that Aj and I have been married, we have lived in 4 different homes where we were able to plant gardens. And at each home, one of the first things we planted was a strawberry patch.
In fact, at our first “house,” which was a small mobile home, strawberries were the only garden we had!
Why Planting bare root strawberries is best?
Here’s a video I recently did on planting bare root strawberries:
Each time we have planted a strawberry patch we have learned a little more about how and where to plant our strawberries. That first little patch of strawberries started out with only 6 plants that we bought at a local nursery. They were live plants and I think even back then that 6 pack of plants cost around $5.00. Establishing a large patch of strawberries using nursery-grown seedlings could be a very expensive proposition. Our current patch started with over 100 plants. The most cost-effective method for starting a large strawberry patch is to use bare-root plants. Depending on how many you buy, I’ve seen plants costing as little as 30 cents per plant!
There are a few things you need to know about planting bare root strawberries:
- Plan on starting early – planting bare root strawberries need to be done in late March or early April. The sooner the better.
- Even if you plant early, plan on losing about 5 to 10% of your plants. So order a few extra.
- If you are planting June bearing plants you will not get a crop the first year!
- If you are planting everbearing plants you will not get a spring crop but you will get a decent fall crop.
- Planting bare root strawberries at the right depth is super important (see more below).
- You can get away with planting bare-root plants in May, but you will not get a crop that year at all!
- Once your order of plants arrives the clock is ticking to get them in the ground, the longer you let them sit un-planted the higher your loss rate will be.
Planting Bare Root Strawberries
So here’s a quick rundown on planting bare root strawberries:
Soak the Roots First
First, be sure to let the plants soak in a bucket of water for a few hours before you plant them. This gets the roots well hydrated.
Trim the Roots
The second step in planting bare root strawberries is cutting back the roots. You will need to cut back the roots by about 1/3. Doing this prevents crowding of the roots and stimulates root growth. You could also water the plants with a very mild liquid fertilizer, like to use fish emulsion.
Fan Out the Roots
Third, to plant just insert a garden trowel into the soil push it forward, fan out the roots in the hole and then pull out the shovel.
Correct Planting Depth
Getting the right planting depth is super important. The crown of the plant needs to be set just at soil level, too deep will affect fruit and runner production. Too high will affect the plant’s overall health. Just get those roots in the ground and be sure the plant is stable, but don’t bury that crown too deep!
Keep the plants well-watered
Fourth, be sure to keep the plants wet and then be very patient. Don’t give up on sick looking plants, it takes a bit for them to get established. You can see our new patch above about 3 weeks after planting. They still look pretty sickly, but don’t be fooled, the root system is just getting established, give them a little care and occasional watering of fish emulsion!
Remove all First Year Blossoms
Fifth, remove all the blossoms. The plants need time to focus on growing, so you need to be patient and give the patch some time to get established. You accomplish this by removing all the blossoms on June bearing plants the first year. If it is really killing you it would be okay to let one blossom develop on each plant. But I would recommend removing them all the first year.
Everbearing (or day neutral) berries are a little different. You want to remove all the spring blossoms. For us, that means removing all the blossoms until about mid-July. This is based on a zone 4 to 7 garden. After that, you can let the blossoms that show up in late July and August develop into a nice fall crop. The first season your crop will be small, but just you wait until next spring!
Strawberries are Awesome!!
You will be amazed at how many strawberries one patch can produce. Even a small patch of everbearing plants can produce all the strawberries you want to eat fresh. A larger one like we grow usually about 50 or 60 square feet can produce upwards of 50 pounds a year! This shot is a good example of the growth of a patch in only one summer. Remember the photo up above with all the tiny struggling plants. Well, this shot is the same patch only 3 months later!
Of all the different fruits we grow around Stoney Acres, strawberries are our favorite! And we love everbearing strawberries the best. They give you a good strong crop in the spring. Usually, take a break from mid-July to late August and then kick back up again until the snow flies in late October. They are perfect fresh as snacks, in salads, and desserts. And we also freeze about 1/2 our crop to have in smoothies, on our pancakes, and in desserts all winter long as well.
How long to bare root strawberries take to grow?
Keep them well watered and in 2 or 3 weeks you will start to see new leaf growth. If they are planted in early to mid-spring, you should have healthy plants growing by early summer.
Will bare root strawberries produce the first year?
If you planted June bearing strawberries you won’t have a harvest the first year. If you planted everbearing varieties you will miss the early summer harvest, but you should have some strawberries to eat in early fall.
Should I soak bare root plants before planting?
Yes, soaking helps re-hydrate the plants and helps get them off to a better start. Be sure to soak them at least 2 hours before planting.
Connie at Bird and Seed
Thanks for explaining all this. I had never heard of bare root plants until a few years ago and haven’t used them yet myself, but they seem like an economical and time saving choice. I’m amazed at how many berries you can get!
Rachel @ Grow a Good Life
I have wanted to start a strawberry patch for a long time. This is just what I need to motivate me to prepare a bed this year and plant next spring. Thanks for sharing at Green Thumb Thursday!
Great advice, we have struggled to get any strawberries. Now I know why. Do you have any recommendations for varieties that do well in the Salt Lake Valley? Where do you get your bare root plants?
Fawn, We like Ozark Beauty, but there are several that do well in Salt Lake, I have hear that Sea Scape do well. We get ours from Stark Bros nursery.
Rachel @ Grow a Good Life
I have chosen this post as my “Featured Post” for Green Thumb Thursday. I hope you will swing by and grab the featured button. Thanks again for sharing!
This post sure was timely. My strawberry crowns just came in the mail!
Planted bare toots in clear cups a week ago but not seeing anything grow out of crown but am seeing something come up through dirt not sure what it is all of the cups are doing it. Has a little ball on the tip of what looks like a root
Without seeing a picture it would be hard for me to help you know what that is. But I will say this, Bare rood are not normally planting into containers, strawberries are very hardy and bare root plants should go straight out into the garden.
I will send a picture as soon as i learn how to do it
How do I get a pic for you too see
I just received bare root strawberry plants from a nursery. I live in zone 5 and it’s early September! Can I plant these now? It says not to store for long!!
I really don’t think you have a choice, they are right you can’t store them too long. So get them in the ground now and hopefully they will take hold before winter sets in. I would suggest that you cover them with a heavy fabric row cover before it starts snowing and leave it on until March. Normally I would recommend you wait till early spring (March/April) to plant bare root strawberries. But since you have them get them in and give them some protection for the winter.
I planted 5 plants last year, and they got runners everywhere! I had to move them, because I used weed barrier fabric, and I figured I needed to get the runners into the actual dirt. So I planted them. Question is, How can I use weed fabric and still get runners planted without doing so much work to take them off the fabric and replant? Should I not used weed fabric? Weeds are so bad, I felt I needed help controlling them!
Honestly, I HATE weed fabric. It is so hard to deal with and limits you so much on what and where you can plant. Eventually, it will break down and then it is a nightmare to remove. It also prevents you from being able to amend the soil so your plants will very quickly use up the nutrients in the soil which then can’t easily be replaced. I would look at controlling weeds with a different method. Mulches work well and if you haven’t already I would switch from overhead irrigation to drip irrigation. Weed fabric really isn’t meant to be used in beds used for food production.
do you trim the plants in the first fall after the plants have grown all summer the first year and when do you trim them the following years?
I’ve never seen a need to trim Strawberries at all. Because we have pretty harsh winters I cover mine with fabric row cover in mid-November. I uncover them in March and carefully rake out any dead leaves. This effectively “trims” them. But in more than 20 years of growing strawberries, I have never actually trimmed them.
Just a note to thank you for your generosity in sharing so much information on many levels of gardening. Until recent years, I had a vegetable garden every year and most years healthy plants with plenty of vegetables to harvest for the family & plenty left over to share with friends & co-workers. Even though, for the past four years, I have not been physically able to do my “beloved” gardening, I have enjoyed reading your posts and hoping this Spring I might be able to do just a small planting of strawberries. I am 78 years old & I have a “walking” disability; but with the cane can get around. Lowering myself to the ground is another story!! Getting down isn’t so much the problem, its finding a way to get up off the ground!! I’ve seen plant pots that are made specific for strawberry plants. If I did three of four of those pots for strawberry plants, what would I need? Bare root plants? Starter plants? Seedlings? Fertilizer? Best place to hang such pots?
You perhaps haven’t had experience with potted strawberries since you have garden plantings for strawberies; but, if you do have any advice on this I would appreciate hearing from you. No matter whether you do or do not have advice for me on this issue, I’ll continue to read your posts and dream fondly of the lovely vegetable gardens I once had. With much gratitude for your “Awesome” Gardening pots, I remain, sincerely yours, Phyllis
Phyllis, Thanks for your kind words!
Strawberries actually do pretty well in pots. I’m assuming the pots you are referencing are those clay posts with multiple “hole”s to plant strawberries in. Fill them with a good quality organic potting mix. Either bareroot or nursery bought plants would be fine. Get the bareroot plants started as early as possible. I would fertilize your pots every few weeks with a good organic liquid fertilizer.
The biggest trick for being successful in pots is keeping things watered. Strawberries already require more water than most other plants, especially when the fruit is on. So plan on checking your pots every day and most likely you will be watering every day and in the heat of the summer possible 2 times, a day depending on where you live.
Thank you for your kind (and speedy!) response to my queries regarding growing strawberries in the clay pots especially designed for strawberry plants. I appreciate the advice & suggestions and will plan on implement those suggestions around mid-March. Sincerely, Phyllis
I live in Missouri. We want to plant our strawberries in a raised bed. Will they winter kill?
I would cover them with straw or heavy fabric row cover, then they should be okay.
I’m experimenting with putting bare root strawberries in grown, but protected.
Also you confirmed my thoughts about outdoor seeding in late March zone 5. I have often waited too long.
Thanks for posting this article and video on planting strawberries. It was very informative. I do have 1 question. Is it necessary to mulch strawberries to prevent them from touching the ground? If so, at which point should I mulch. Thx. Kim
It can be helpful especially if you have pets. I would get the mulch out about the time your start to see flowers.