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The Best Time to Plant Strawberries in North Carolina

The Best Time to Plant Strawberries in North Carolina

What is something more gratifying than picking and eating your own homegrown sweet and juicy Strawberries? 

The notion that you won’t get much yield if you grow Strawberries in your garden is just a myth. You can very well get a bountiful harvest if you follow the right practices and be on time. 

If you are a North Carolina resident and want to grow Strawberries this spring, you better get started early on in the winter.

 

When to Plant Strawberries in North Carolina?

When growing by seed, you can start Strawberries indoors from December to February. When ready to transplant, you can move Strawberries to the ground in North Carolina as soon as the ground unfreezes. This can be in mid-March in the eastern and late-March or April in the western side of NC. 

 

Ideal Growing Temperatures for Strawberries

Strawberries don’t like hot weather and grow most vigorously in the mild temperatures in spring and early summer. They prefer cooler weather over warm temperatures and will grow larger Strawberries when temperatures are below a specific level. 

The sultry North Carolinian summers will automatically stop Strawberry production and make the plants go dormant when the temperatures get too high as early as June. 

However, some heat-tolerant Strawberry varieties will continue production late into the season. 

The optimum daytime temperature range for Strawberries is from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius). In contrast, the nighttime temperatures should stay within the 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5-18 degrees Celsius) range.

In some parts of North Carolina, the springtime temperatures may rise above 80 F (27 C), which will result in reduced yield. 

If the daytime temperatures in your region cross this limit, you’re advised to sprinkle the Strawberry patch with cool water to keep them cool.

 

Growing Strawberries from Seed in North Carolina

If you’re starting your Strawberry patch from seed this spring, seeds should always be started early in the winter. This allows you to harvest fruit in the first growing season. 

Starting Strawberry plants too late in the season means they won’t have long to grow strawberries before the hot NC summer kicks in.

In North Carolina, you should ideally sow Strawberry seeds in an indoor, protected environment as soon as December. The Strawberry starting window is open until mid-February.

If you have not started your Strawberries from seed by February, it might be too late now and buying young Strawberry plants from the nursery is a better option if you want to enjoy the fruit this season. 

So, once you have leafy strawberry plants with you and the winter is coming to an end, you should ideally transplant your Strawberry outdoors after the ground has softened up and is ready to be worked. 

It is worth noting here that the time when the ground is ready to be work is different than the last frost date. Late spring frosts keep coming long after the ground unfreezes.

On average, the ground unfreezes and is ready to be worked on from the 15th of March to early April across the state of North Carolina. The eastern areas precede the western part of NC.  

On the other hand, the last frost date comes later. The middling last frost date across NC is somewhere near the 10th of April. 

So, you can transplant your young Strawberry plants outdoors as soon as the soil softens up. However, you must note that the danger of frost has still not passed.

Strawberries will not tolerate frost, and most of your plants will suffer from a frost attack if not provided adequate frost protection. Protecting the Strawberry bed with a polyethylene cover is a recommended practice.

But if you don’t want to go through all the frost protection hassle, you can just wait it out until the danger of frost has passed and then plant your Strawberries. 

You can still start hardening off the Strawberry plant by exposing them to a few hours of mild sun every day so they can grow well and become acclimatized to growing outdoors. 

The average last frost dates across different regions in North Carolina varies by 2-3 days. Here’s is a list of the average last frost dates in major NC cities. 

  • Charlotte Last Frost Date – the 11th of April 
  • Raleigh Last Frost Date – the 8th of April 
  • Greensboro Last Frost Date – the 10th of April 
  • Durham Last Frost Date – the 10th of April 
  • Winston-Salem Last Frost Date – the 7th of April 

You can transplant your Strawberries outdoors a week or two after the last frost date has passed and avoid all the worry. 

 

Growing Strawberries from Bareroot Strawberry Plants in NC

Bareroot Strawberry plants are dormant and appear as dead, shriveled plants. However, if planted in the soil before spring, they will root and start producing foliage. 

Also called dormant Strawberry crowns, North Carolina growers can plant them in the ground in the late winter or early spring as soon as nighttime temperatures start staying above the 25 F (-4 C) level.

Leafy Strawberry plants cannot tolerate this much cold. However, Bareroot Strawberry crowns are already dormant and can go into the soil as early as it unfreezes.

You don’t have to bother about frost damage, and the dormant plants do not have foliage the frost can harm. They take root and start producing leaves as soon as the temperatures start warming up. 

 

When is it Too Late to Plant Strawberries in North Carolina?

Strawberry plants need time and the right temperatures to get established in the ground and start fruiting. If the summer heat is already here, know that it’s too late to plant Strawberries in NC.

NC summers are hot and humid, and the delicate fruiting plants don’t stand a chance against it. Growth is slowed down when temperatures cross the 80 F (27 C) limit, and this happens pretty early on in North Carolina. 

If it’s late spring or summer has already kicked in, better not waste the grow bed because planting Strawberries at the eleventh hour will bear a minimum yield.