Strawberries: when to plant strawberries and how

Find out when to plant strawberries for the best chances of a bumper crop this year

Strawberries: when to plant strawberries and a selection in a basket that have been picked
(Image credit: Getty)

Want to know when to plant strawberries? Well, if you have been thinking about growing your own crop of this tasty fruit, then this weekend is a good time to get prepping. When to plant strawberries does depend on the type of strawberry plant you have bought, so more on this later, but either way, in early March you need to either get planting, or prep your strawberry patch ready for planting up in the coming weeks. 

Here, we explain when to plant strawberries, and also explain how. There are top tips for taking care of your strawberry plants to maximise the chances of a bumper crop this summer. Your dream of watching Wimbledon with a big bowl of homegrown strawberries – and a few thrown in your Pimm's for good measure – starts here.

For more advice and inspiration for your outdoor space, head to our garden ideas feature.

When to plant strawberries

Strawberries need to be planted at different times depending on what type of plant your get.

Most of us will grow our strawberries from potted plants, or bare-root runners. You can grow strawberries from seed, but they can take weeks to germinate and probably won't crop in the first year. In the UK most places therefore sell runners and plants instead.

If you are growing from bare-root runners, these need to be planted in early spring or late autumn. The start of March is a good time to plant, but wait until the ground is not very cold or wet. Cold-stored runners can be planted at the end of spring or even as late as June and will fruit in 60 days.

Potted strawberry plants are usually available towards the end of spring and these can be planted out when you buy them in April or May.

Best places to buy strawberry plants:

Where to plant strawberries

The RHS says the best growing condition for strawberries is somewhere with sun, shelter, fertile soil and good drainage. The beauty of strawberries is that you don't need a massive plot for them – they can be grown in pots or even hanging baskets, as long as you place them somewhere sunny that isn't too exposed.

As they like well-drained soil, clay or water logged soil is a no-no. If you have the wrong soil type, use raised beds or grow bags.

Making sure the ground is fertile is very important so in early March get your soil ready for the plants. Dig in plenty of manure or fertiliser to prep the earth for planting.

How to plant strawberries

If you are planting in pots of grow bags, skip to our section on container planting strawberries. For planting in the ground (raised beds included) read on:

1. Strawberries are best planted in rows so that you can access them easily for picking. Rows need to be at least 75cm (about 2.5ft) apart so plot these with stakes and string. 

2. Mark holes along your rows, 30–35cm apart (just over a foot).

3. Dig a hole roughly the width of each strawberry plant or runner. It needs to be big enough to accommodate the roots so use the plant as a guide. The hole also needs to be the same depth as the roots so that the crown of the plant sits just above the soil level.

4. Place the strawberry plant in the hole. Backfill the hole with soil and pat in gently. Be sure not to cover the crown with soil as it will rot, but make sure the roots are all covered.

5. When you have planted all your strawberries, water them.

Try Alan Titchmarsh's top tips for growing strawberries too

According to the broadcaster and gardener Alan Titchmarsh, these are the most important tips for growing strawberries successfully:

1. If planting straight into the ground, allow about a foot between your strawberry plants. Make sure the soil is well drained and nutrient rich, so you may need to replace the top layer of your garden soil. 

2. If growing in containers, always go for ones with holes in them: strawberries don't tolerate water logging, and do particularly well if planted in hanging baskets or in containers that are raised, to allow the water to drain freely. 

3. Feed your strawberries after three to four weeks of planting with a liquid fertiliser such as tomato feed. Any potassium-rich feed is good as it encourages more fruit.

Top tip: Strawberries need to be watered regularly, but don't allow them to be soaking wet or stand in water, or they will rot. 

Growing tips:

  • As the strawberries begin to fruit, spread straw around the plants. This keeps the strawberries up off the soil so they don't rot.
  • Cover the strawberries with nets before they fruit to keep hungry birds away.
  • Perpetual strawberries need their first flowers removing to encourage fruiting. 
  • If planting out in early spring or late autumn, protect the young plants from frosts with fleece.

Container planting for strawberries

To plant strawberries in containers, choose smaller plants and don't overcrowd the container. You can get special strawberry growing pots with balconies for individual plants. A foot-wide (30cm) hanging basket will hold three to four plants.

Again, use well fertilised soil and make sure that the pot has gravel or broken pots at the bottom for good drainage. Make holes to accommodate the roots of each strawberry plant and fill with soil to just below the crown. Avoid overwatering, but definitely don't let them dry out.

Place your pots/baskets somewhere sunny but sheltered. The beauty of this method is that they can be moved in bad weather.

Pick as they grow to keep them flourishing. If they are slow to fruit, nip off a few of the flowers to encourage fewer, larger fruits.

More gardening advice:

Lindsey Davis
Editor in Chief, Homes Ecommerce

Lindsey is Editor of and Editor in Chief for Home Ecommerce at Future. She is here to give you aspirational, yet attainable ideas for your home and works with her team to help you get the best buys, too. She has written about homes and interiors for the best part of a decade for brands including Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Gardeningetc and isn't afraid to take the inspiration she finds at work into her own space – a Victorian terrace which she has been (slowly) remodelling for the last eight years. She is happiest sipping a cup of tea with a cat on her lap (if only she had a cat).