How to Grow Strawberry Plants in Containers
Strawberries can be easily grown in containers and various flower pots. Strawberries like growing in fertile, loamy soil that is rich in organic matter, well aerated, drains well and is a slightly acidic with pH around 6. At pH 6.5 and above, strawberries practically stop to produce fruits.
Strawberries like growing in full sun and they benefit from regular fertilization and mulching.
When choosing strawberry types for growing in containers in small garden, stay away from June-bearing varieties since they bear plenty of fruits in relatively short period of time.
Planting ever-bearing and day-neutral strawberries in pots or containers has many benefits - although they don't bear as many strawberries at once like June-bearing, their bearing season is much longer, which is very important when growing them for home use.
How to Choose Containers for Growing Strawberries
There are numerous benefits of growing strawberries in containers.
Regardless of the size of the plants, strawberries have a very shallow root system, requiring between 1 and 2 liters of growing medium per plant. That amount of soil also means that supplemental fertilization and regular watering is very important when growing them in pots. When preparing pots and containers for strawberries, be sure to use new, sterile soil, rich in micro- and macro-nutrients.
Pots and containers must have drainage holes to protect strawberries against overwatering by allowing any excess water to drain out - very important especially during rainy season. Containers should be strong and durable, able to withstand the sun, rain, wind, frost etc. Plastic containers are IMHO better than ceramic, since they are cheaper, lighter and are more impact resistant. If you choose ceramic pots, be sure that they are frost resistant, since moisture in non-glazed ceramic pots can cause cracks during winter.
On the other hand, strawberries need 2cm of water weekly in moderate climate and at least 4cm (or even more) of water weekly, during summer heat. Of course, water should be applied on a daily basis, especially during summer. Daily watering eliminates moisture swings in the soil and helps growing great looking and tasty fruits.
Even when there is enough moisture in the soil, during summer heat (40°C, 104°F) some varieties don't bear fruits - don't worry, since they restart flowering as soon as temperatures are back to 'normal'.
Choose containers that fit into the area you have designated for strawberries.
For example, if it is a side of a walkway, then choose containers that are 15-20cm (6-8 inches) wide, 15-20cm (6-8 inches) high and of needed length. In such containers, one can plant 1 row of larger and 2 rows of smaller strawberries.
If you can fit 2 rows of plants in such containers, fruits can freely hang over container sides, avoiding any contact with (wet) soil. Such fruits grow much healthier and cleaner.
Vertical Strawberry Growing System
If you don't have much space, have no worries since strawberries are one of the best plants for vertical garden. Such setup requires very little space and can be very decorative.
There are many ready made systems that can be purchased on-line or in any garden center. If you like DIY, then you can make your own version using wood, various clothes, smaller plastic pots, concrete, PVC tubes etc. Only limit is your imagination :)
If you decide to buy containers for your vertical garden, have few things in mind:
- maximum number of tiers - usually 3-10. Some models allow one to get started with, for example, 4 tiers and then with time, build a vertical garden as needed.
- number of 'individual' pots per tier - usually 3-6. If you have space and you want larger stack, choose systems that have at least 4 'individual' pots per tier. Of course, systems differ and so does the size. In most systems, there are enough room for only one plant per pot - recommended for easier maintenance.
- material should be 'food grade safe', not some cheap plastic loaded with chemicals. Also, such material should be strong, flexible, durable and lightweight.
- mass of such system can be relatively large, so be sure to place it on a sunny spot, protected from wind. Although relatively heavy, especially when watered, due to height, strong wind gusts can tip them over.
- some systems are so called 'Flow Through Design' - one has to water only the top tier. Well, this sounds great, but if you have really tall vertical strawberry garden, be sure to water lower tiers, too - observe plants and act as required.
- such vertical systems are great for growing not only strawberries, but also various other smaller plants like herbs, vegetables and flowers.
On the photo above - five tier vertical growing system, around one meter tall and one foot in diameter. There are four 'individual' pots in each tier, providing space for 20 strawberry plants.
Actually, on the top, it is possible to plant more than 4 plants - in the middle, there is enough room for at least one more plant.
This system is good even for hanging on suitable place using chain.
It is 'Flow Through Design' system, meaning that it is enough to water top most pot. However, it is important, especially during summer heat, to carefully observe plants and if required, water lower plants, too.
Note that this system can have more than 5 tiers, but it would make this vertical garden too unstable - very important if you have small kids, pets and there is a danger of strong wind gusts.
Since central part of the growing system (soil) is protected from the sun, this system can be left unattended for 2-3 days even during summer heat. Adding hydroton pebbles to potting soil helps extend this period even more, but that requires some testing.
Next table shows short description and comparison between popular container growing systems. Feel free to follow links for Amazon reviews and recommendations (all links in table open in the new window).
|5 Tiered Hanging and Stacking Vertical Strawberry Planter Pot||
Five tier vertical growing system, one meter high and one foot in diameter. There are four 'individual' pots in each tier, space for 20 strawberry or other similarly sized plants.
Flow through design, however, observe lower plants during hot days.
|Nancy Janes P1360 Stacking Planters||
Three tier vertical growing system, 1 foot in diameter. There are three 'individual' pots per tier, each one can easily accommodate 2 strawberry plants.
It is flow through design watering system. Up to 5 tiers can hang from the chain and up to a 9 tiers can be stacked using metal dowel placed through the pots.
|Akro-Mils RZJMEDI Medium Stack-A-Pot||
Three tier vertical growing system that can be stacked even higher.
Two capacities: 30 quarts (28.4 l) per three tiers and 14 quarts (13.3 l) per three tiers.
For growing strawberries, larger capacity version is recommended - plant two strawberry plants per 'pot', or six strawberries per tier.
|Mr. Stacky Verical Hydroponics Tower||
Vertical hydroponics growing system, includes 6-tier tower, base reservoir, pump, pressure regulating head, pipes, rotating saucer and timer.
24 'individual' planting pots, 6 tiers, 4 pots per tier.
It can be used to grow vegetables, herbs, strawberries etc.
|GRO Products Vertical GRO System with 3-Planter Boxes||
3 planter boxes vertical system, 58 inch (148 cm) tall, three widths: 18 inches (46 cm), 24 inches (61 cm) and 30 inches (76 cm).
It can be wall mounted or free standing. Planter boxes have removable liners and can be arranged to accommodate plants of different heights.
Note: Casters sold separately!
|Fiskars 3 Piece Hanging Gardening System Planter||
Hanging growing system suitable for herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers. For limited space environments - can be hanged vertically or horizontally.
Planters have self watering grid which creates water reservoirs - reduced watering frequency, healthier plants.
Stainless steel fasteners included.
Obviously, growing systems can be adapted to any area suitable for growing strawberries and other similar plants. Best of all, they can be repositioned as required - outside during warmer months, inside during winter.
Maintaining Strawberry Plants Potted in Containers and Flower Pots
Maintenance is, more or less, the same as with strawberries planted in raised beds or anywhere else:
- watering must ensure constant level of moisture in the soil in order to promote vigorous growth and blooming. Irregular watering leads to growth of deformed fruits and weak plants.
- refeeding with synthetic fertilizers must provide enough micro and macro-elements in the soil, especially during periods of strongest growth, blooming and bearing fruits. Organic fertilizers are important, too, since they improve soil structure and feed the plants without significant spikes of nutrients in the soil.
- pests and diseases - chemicals that kill bad insects also kill good and beneficial insects like ladybugs and praying mantises and similar. Using organic repellents and fungicides ensures that home gardens remains clean and healthy zone, producing fruits that can be consumed fresh, right after picking. Unfortunately, sometimes one simply must use chemicals - in that case, be sure to read instruction carefully BEFORE introducing the agent into the garden.
- pruning dead leaves can be done on a daily basis. Simply take a look at your strawberries and remove what you don't like. Only 5 minutes per day of such activities can keep strawberry plants in excellent condition. Have kids? Teach them what they can do and how to do it, and you will have life-time help in your garden :)
Long story short - growing strawberries in containers and flower pots can be very successful. Vertical growing systems can be very decorative, too - 20 strawberry plants can easily yield more than 10kg (20 pounds) of delicious and very healthy fruits. And best of all, one doesn't have to grow strawberries only - various herbs, vegetables and other fruits can be easily grown in such pots.