Strawberries are a delicious and easy-to-grow fruit that can be grown from bare root plants. Bare root strawberry plants are dormant, meaning there is no soil around the roots. This allows the plants to be transported and stored efficiently. With some simple preparation and care, bare root strawberries can be successfully planted for fruit production within one season.
When to Plant
Bare root strawberries should be planted in early spring once the threat of hard frost has passed. The soil should not be frozen or waterlogged. Aim for a planting time about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost date for your area. This gives plants time to establish before the growing season.
Preparing the Site
Choose a Spot
Pick a planting site that gets 6-8 hours of full sun daily with well-draining soil. The area must receive good airflow and drainage while avoiding low spots that collect standing water.
Prep the Soil
Enrich the soil by mixing in 2-4 inches of aged compost before planting. This improves drainage while providing nutrients. And strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Test soil and amend with sulfur to lower pH if needed.
Build Raised Beds (Optional)
For better drainage and plant health, build a raised bed that is 4-6 inches tall. Frame with wood, bricks or stones. Fill with quality gardening soil mixed with compost.
Planting Bare Roots
Inspect the Roots
Unwrap bare root plants immediately upon delivery. Inspect root systems and trim off any dead or damaged roots with clean shears. Healthy roots will be firm and white.
Soak the Roots
Place bare roots in a bucket of room temperature water for 30 minutes before planting. This rehydrates plants after transport so they establish better.
Use a trowel to dig holes the width of the bare root plant and deep enough so roots are just covered by soil. Spacing depends on the variety, usually 12-18 inches apart, leaving approximately 2-3 feet between rows.
Mix a tablespoon of 10-10-10 fertilizer or compost into the soil at the bottom of each hole. This gives plants a nutrient boost.
Plant the Roots
Place each plant in a hole and carefully spread roots out. Ensure the crown where stems emerge is at ground level, not buried too deep. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots.
Gently water each plant to settle soil and make good root contact. Avoid bending or crushing leaves. Add mulch around plants to retain moisture.
Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the plants to help conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and protect the berries from direct contact with the soil.
Caring for New Plants
Provide Regular Water : Supply 1-2 inches of water per week from rainfall or irrigation. Avoid overwatering. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses instead of overhead watering.
Protect from Frost : If cold snaps occur after planting, protect plants by covering with horticultural fabric row covers overnight. Remove covers during daytime.
Weed Diligently : Remove weeds as soon as they sprout to prevent competition for water and nutrients. Apply 2-3 inches of organic mulch around plants to smother weeds.
Fertilize Monthly : Apply balanced fertilizer once per month when plants start growing. This encourages healthy plant and fruit development.
Harvesting : Depending on the variety, strawberries typically start producing fruit within a few months. Harvest when the berries are fully ripe, red in color, and easily detach from the plants.
Follow proper planting and care methods, and your bare root strawberry plants will establish quickly and bear sweet, juicy berries the first season! Just looking forward to the exciting time!