Strawberry Problems: Are You Making These 5 Mistakes With Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the quickest and easiest fruits to cultivate. While most fruit crops require the space and time commitment to grow trees, bushes, or brambles, strawberries can be grown in the confines of a small flowerbed. Some types of strawberries also yield a quantity of fruit in their first season.

Common Mistakes with Strawberries

Even the most experienced gardener, like myself, can make mistakes with strawberries though. Luckily, if you're having strawberry problems, there's probably an easy solution. Here are the 5 most common strawberry growing mistakes:

Choosing the wrong variety. Buying strawberry plants at a local nursery makes it easy to choose a variety which does well in your climate. A more common strawberry growing mistake is choosing the wrong varietal type of strawberry to meet your needs: 

  • June-bearing strawberries produce a large yield over a short period of time - usually about three weeks.
  • Ever-bearing, as the name suggests, bear larger quantities of berries in the spring and fall, but will also put out a few strawberries throughout the summer.
  • Day-neutral varieties of strawberries produce continuously from spring until the first frost in fall, but this type doesn't produce large yields.

Planting in the wrong location. Many strawberry problems can be pinpointed back to less-than-ideal growing conditions. For optimal production, select a site which can offer the following:

  • Adequate sunlight: Strawberries require six to ten hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Accessible nutrients: Strawberries are shallow rooted. Keep the most fertile soil near the surface of the strawberry patch.
  • Proper soil moisture level: For larger berries, keep the soil consistently moist from bloom time to harvest, but avoid planting strawberries in low lying or soggy areas. Many gardeners find raised beds, which can be easily watered when the fruit is developing, work best.

Burying the plants too deep. Incorrect planting depth is one of the most common gardening mistakes with strawberries. Plant them too shallow and they dry out, too deep and the plants rot. Follow these steps to plant strawberries at the correct depth:

  • Locate the crown: This is the area where the stems meet the root ball.
  • Dig a wide hole: Mound the dirt up in the center of the hole. Space the holes 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm.) apart in wide rows of 18 to 24 inches (46-61 cm.).
  • Plant the crown at soil level: Place the strawberry plant on the mound of dirt and spread out the roots. Repack the soil making sure the crown, stems, and leaves are above ground.

Not mulching the strawberry patch. Mulch protects the strawberry's roots, reduces the need to weed, and conserves soil moisture. It also keeps ripening berries off the ground and away from hungry insects. Try one of these inexpensive mulches:

Not removing the runners. It may seem logical to keep all the runners since these make new strawberry plants for following years. However, these new plants sap energy from the mother plant, which results in fewer and smaller strawberries in the current season. Depending upon your gardening goals, allowing more than three daughter plants per mother could be causing your strawberry problems.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.