Strawberries as a rule are temperate plants, which means they flourish in the cooler temps. How about folks who live in USDA zone 9? Are they relegated to supermarket berries or is it possible to grow hot weather strawberries? In the following article, we’ll investigate the possibility of growing strawberries in zone 9 as well as potentially suitable zone 9 strawberry plants.
About Strawberries for Zone 9
Most of zone 9 is made up of California, Texas, and Florida, and of these, the major areas within this zone are coastal and central California, a good chunk of Florida, and the southern coast of Texas. Florida and California, as it happens, are actually good candidates for growing strawberries in zone 9. In fact, many popular strawberry varieties are actually patented in these two states. When it comes to choosing the correct strawberries for zone 9, picking the right variety for this area is critical. Remember, in zone 9, strawberries are more likely to be grown as annuals rather than the perennials their northern neighbors grow. Berries will be planted in the fall and then harvested the next growing season. Planting will be different for zone 9 growers as well. Plants should be more tightly spaced than those grown in the north and are then allowed to die back during the peak hot months of summer.
Growing Hot Weather Strawberries
Before you choose your zone 9 suited strawberry plants, learn about the three different categories of strawberry: Short-day, Day-neutral, and Everbearing. Short-day strawberries are planted from late summer into the fall and produce a single big crop in the spring. Day-neutral or ever-bearing strawberries produce for the entire growing season and under the right conditions will bear all year long. Everbearing strawberries are sometimes confused with day-neutral – all day-neutral strawberries are everbearing, but not all everbearing are day-neutral. Day-neutral is a modern cultivar of berry developed from everbearing plants that produce 2-3 crops per growing season.
Zone 9 Strawberry Cultivars
Of the short-day varieties of strawberry, most are only rated hardy to USDA zone 8. However, Tioga and Camarosa can thrive in zone 9 because they have low winter chill requirements, just 200-300 hours below 45 F. (7 C.). Tioga berries are rapidly growing plants with a firm, sweet fruit but are susceptible to leaf spot. Camarosa strawberries are early season berries that are a deep red, sweet but with a touch of tang. Day-neutral strawberries give zone 9 a slightly broader choice. Of this type of berry, the Fern strawberry makes a great container berry or ground cover. Sequoia strawberries are large, sweet berries that in milder areas are considered short-day strawberries. In zone 9, however, they are grown as day-neutral berries. They are somewhat resistant to powdery mildew. Hecker strawberries are another day-neutral that will flourish in zone 9. This berry does well as a border plant or ground cover and is a prolific producer of small to medium-sized, deep red berries. Strawberries that do well in specific areas of zone 9 California include:
Those that will thrive in zone 9 Florida include:
- Sweet Charlie
- Strawberry Festival
- Winter Dawn
- Florida Radiance
- Oso Grande
Strawberries suited to zone 9 for Texas are Chandler, Douglas, and Sequoia. When choosing the best strawberry for your exact area of zone 9, it’s a great idea to talk with your local extension office, a local nursery, and/or the local farmers' market. Each will have direct knowledge of which types of strawberry does best for your region.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.