Mad About Berries

How To Protect Strawberries From Rotting On The Ground?

Strawberries are very sensitive and delicate fruits susceptible to fruit rotting during the growth period, especially during the last few days when the strawberries are heavier and tend to touch the soil surface.

Fruit rot can be prevented in many ways, but the simplest one is to prevent the strawberries from touching the moist soil using various supports, mulch, and similar.

Updated: July 20, 2023.

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Strawberry Fruit Rot

Strawberry fruit rot damages the green and especially ripe strawberries, decreasing the yield. In order to prevent strawberry fruit rot, the most important thing to do is to keep the strawberries dry.

This means that the strawberry plants should not be too dense in order to allow plenty of air and sunlight around the strawberry fruits.

Also, when the strawberries are watered, fruits should not get wet - if possible, use a dripping system or be very careful when watering the plants manually.

It is also possible to use various chemicals to protect the strawberries from fruit rot, but personally, there are easier and much healthier methods that can be used in home gardens, including using strawberry supports, growing strawberries in vertical planters, using mulch, and similar.

Strawberry Supports

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Strawberry supports are plastic holders that are positioned around the individual plants, keeping both fruits and leaves above the ground and preventing contact between soil and sensitive fruits.

One of the very important features of strawberry supports is that they also increase air flow around and below the fruits and leaves, keeping them healthier.

On the other hand, single strawberry support protects just one strawberry plant, and protecting a larger number of plants can be time-consuming.

But, they can last several seasons, they are not toxic, and they do their job well.

Vertical Planters

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Stackable vertical planters are ideal for growing numerous strawberry plants in a limited area. Also, they can be very decorative - green leafy background with plenty of white flowers, green fruits, and red ripe strawberries can be visually very attractive.

Stackable vertical planters allow the gardeners to plant the strawberries near the edges of the planters - as the fruits grow, most of them will simply grow in the air, avoiding the moist soil and enjoying plenty of air and sunlight.

On the other hand, vertical stackable planters can have issues with stability, especially in the windy areas - be sure not to build them too tall. Also, when watering, be sure to water every stack/row individually or improvise a dripping system.

Hanging Baskets

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Hanging baskets allow the gardener to grow strawberries off the ground, and when the basket is long and narrow or has a dedicated growing opening/hole, the strawberry fruits are kept away from the moist soil, preventing rot.

Hanging baskets and containers must be set firmly to prevent the wind from damaging them, or they must be able to swing gently - in either case, it is highly recommended to place them in positions protected from the wind.

Most hanging baskets have a limited amount of soil to avoid being too heavy. This also means that the gardener should use good potting soil, rich in organic matter, that is regularly watered and fertilized.

Hanging baskets are an excellent solution for growing strawberries and other plants on balconies, terraces, and similar locations where space is very limited.

Hanging baskets can be made from various types of fabric or plastic.

If you are going for a fabric hanging baskets, be sure that the fabric allows the soil to "breathe". Also, if fabric hanging baskets fall down, they usually don't get damaged (unlike plants that were planted in them).

On the other hand, plastic hanging baskets can be very decorative, but if they fall, they can get damaged easily.

Flower Pots and Containers

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Growing strawberries in flower pots and containers is very popular in small gardens, on balconies, terraces, or even window sills.

Flower pots are easy to find, they are offered in different sizes and shapes, they are built from different materials (plastic, terra cotta, metal, wood, concrete, etc.), can be decorative, etc.

Although growing strawberries in pots and containers has its own challenges, it is one of the most popular methods, but it also allows the strawberry fruits to hang over the edge, never touching the soil.

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Similarly, growing strawberries in raised beds and grow bags allow the gardener to plant the strawberries along the edge of the raised bed, preventing the strawberry fruits from ever touching the moist soil. Also, grow bags may come with growing holes (or the gardener can make a few of them), turning the grow bags into "soft" vertical planters or even a hanging grow bag/basket.

Obviously, when thinking out of the box, only the sky is the limit, especially with plants like strawberries.

Strawberry fruits that are growing away from the edge can be protected using partial strawberry supports or using the oldest method in the book - using mulch.

Mulching the Strawberries

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When people started to grow strawberries in their gardens, they know that they are berries and in order to prevent the fruit rot, they used straw mulch - hence the name "straw" + "berry" = "strawberry".

Strawberry mulch is suitable for protecting larger June-bearing strawberry varieties, although some growers use a straw mulch to protect all the strawberries that they have and in many cases, these include June-bearing, Day-Neutral, and Ever-bearing varieties of different sizes.

As the strawberry fruits grow and ripe, straw is protecting them from touching the soil, keeping them dry and well aerated.

Also, straw mulch protects the soil from strong sunlight and wind, keeping it moist for a longer period of time.

In the end, as the straw mulch slowly decomposes, it releases nutrients in the soil and feeds the growing plants.

Note: after the growing season, many gardeners collect the straw mulch, mix it with other debris from the garden and use it to produce compost for another season.

Plastic Mulch

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Plastic mulch comes in the form of plastic rolls usually made from durable low-density polyethylene or similar materials - some plastic mulch rolls are reusable and some can be used only for one season.

Such plastic mulch protects the strawberries from touching the wet soil and keeps the fruits and leaves healthy.

Also, plastic mulch prevents moisture from escaping, prevents weeds from growing, etc.

But, plastic mulch requires a dripping watering system to be placed under the plastic foil, before laying the roll on the ground. Also, before planting the strawberries or other plants, holes must be perforated - holes made for one season are used for planting in other seasons as well.

Also, fertilizing plants can be difficult since liquid fertilizers must be added to the water distributed by the dripping watering system - solid fertilizers can be added directly to the soil, but additional holes may be required for such tasks.

Although plastic mulch is used mostly commercially, some gardeners use it in their backyards very successfully.

Few Final Words

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Strawberries are very easy to grow and they can provide surprisingly high yields - personally, if You are passionate about strawberries, vertical stackable planters are the way to go.

Or at least horizontal pipes and long containers that provide plants with plenty of sunshine and air, keeping the fruits dry and well-aerated.

If You are a beginner and want to try to grow your own strawberries, go for strawberry grow kits and/or vertical planters - use good strawberry soil and combine several strawberry types and varieties, prolonging the harvest season as much as possible.

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