Growing Strawberries indoors, A Gardening Adventure

I realized today as I was planting the last of my perennials from a greenhouse sale that I had strawberry plants that needed a home before winter. The plants also spread and produced runners with plants during the summer and I was puzzled on what to do. Should I plant them outdoors and hope they take with only a short time to acclimate to new soil or grow them indoors? After reading a few articles I decided to plant the strawberries  indoors. Strawberries, from the garden, clean.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Grumpy Chris

I feel I will have more control over the plants survival rate. Strawberries also grow well grow in containers and even do well indoors. I will have to supplement their growing space with artificial sunlight but I feel it’s worth the time.

My plants are everbearing plants. They will produce two crops of strawberries, one in the spring and another in the late summer or fall. From what I have read and my lighting situation I think its would be best to grow these strawberry plants in hanging baskets.

Strawberries prefer a soil with a pH between 5.3 and 6.5, so I will be heading to the garden center for the proper soil and a controlled-release fertilizer to insure the plants have enough nutrients. When I plant the strawberries I will remove any older leaves from the plant and remove the runners. (I will also plant the runners in my greenhouse and over winter them for a larger plant crop for next spring). The roots should be trimmed so they are about 4 to 5 inches in length and any damaged areas removed. I will place the roots in water for an hour before planting. The plant should be placed in the soil so the crown of the plant is even with the soil’s surface and the roots fan out. This was a mistake I made the first time I planted strawberries. I planted them too deep and did not spread the roots out.

I also read that I will need to remove all blossoms by either pinching or cutting them for the first 6 weeks after planting. This gives the strawberries  time to get established before expending energy towards growing fruit. I will need to water the plants every day until the growing season, and then reduce your watering to when the top inch of soil has become dry.

Indoor strawberry planting TIPS:

  • Strawberries should be fertilized at least once a month. Once the plants have begun flowering, fertilize it about every 10 days until harvest season is over. They prefer a fertilizer that is high in potassium.
  • They will need at least six hours of sunlight a day to produce a crop that can be harvested, although full sun is better. Make sure hanging baskets are rotated to ensure that all plants get adequate light.
  • Strawberries are prone to both aphids and red spider mites. Strawberries can also develop powdery mildew. If your strawberry plant has purple spots on the top surface of its leaves and white fungus on the bottom side, it has developed powdery fungus and needs to be treated with a fungicide.
  • Strawberries are ready to be picked as soon as the fruit has turned red. They can be stored for about two days in shallow trays in the refrigerator. For longer periods, it is best to freeze them. I freeze mine on cookie sheets them place them in plastic bags. This way I can freeze small amounts at a time and also take out a few berries to use at a time. Strawberries in December Creative Commons License photo credit: Martin Lindstrom

How to assemble Hanging Strawberry Baskets

Gather

  • 24 strawberry plants
  • a 16-inch wire basket
  •  potting soil
  •  and some sphagnum moss, coconut fiber or a specially designed basket liner.

Next line the wire basket with the damp sphagnum moss, coconut fiber or basket liner. Insert 18 of the plants into the basket sides through the sphagnum moss. After you have finished, fill the basket with potting soil and planting the remaining plants in the top of the basket. The basket will continue to produce fruit for about three years.

My plan is to keep my plants healthy until I can get a proper strawberry bed set up. If I have a small crop of berries this winter it will be a plus!

UPDATE: Feb 2009.   My indoor Strawberry plants did very well in 2008 and produced a great crop. I found I needed to use a little more compost tea (or any liquid fertizer on them) when I transplanted them into the ground. They are still thriving and I again have indoor strawberries.

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Denise

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