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Sweet Strawberries Plant Care — All You Need to Know

Sweet Strawberries Plant Care  — All You Need to Know

One of the healthiest and easiest fruits to grow is strawberries, a top favorite of millions. With over 600 varieties, it is frequently added into smoothies, fruit salads, and numerous dishes. 

This berry is full of vitamin C and antioxidants that help prevent several cancers, heart problems, and other systemic diseases. 

The strawberry plant is a hybrid species from the Fragaria genus, cultivated worldwide for its delicious fruits. The plant has a fibrous root system as well as a crown, which produces basil leaves. 

These berry plants come in three types; the June bearing variety that bears all fruit at once in warmer climates. 

The everbearing variety forms surplus harvest in spring,  light harvest in the summers, and another crop in the fall or late summer. 

Lastly, the day-neutral variety, which produces fruits continuously till the first frost.

Many gardeners can grow strawberries; however, producing sweet and flavorful strawberries is an art few excel at. 

If you wish to grow the most delicious and sweet strawberries in your garden but are unsure about the process, this guide is just for you.

 

Sweet Strawberries Plant Care

To grow the sweetest strawberries, plant them in direct sunlight for 6-10 hours daily in well-draining, loamy, slightly acidic soils. Water them regularly (1-2 inches) every day with a drip or soaker hose. Maintain humidity levels greater than 65% and temperatures higher than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Soil

The strawberry plant can tolerate a wide variety of soil types. However, to produce the sweetest strawberries, you will have to put in some extra effort. 

Grow the strawberry plant in freely draining, fertile soils, preferably with a raised bed.

Maintain a pH of 5.5 to 7 to help the berry develop its characteristic balance of sweet and sour. 

Ideally, begin preparing the soil a couple of months before plating the fruit by working some aged manure or compost into it. 

If you are using clay soil, mix about 4 inches of compost into it or rake the clay soil, forming raised mounds for adequate drainage. 

On the other hand, if you are working with sandy soil, simply add 1 inch of rich compost and remove weeds.

Before planting the strawberries, please ensure that your garden’s soil is slightly acidic as the low pH contributes to the sweetness. 

However, I suggest growing them in half-barrels or large containers filled with compost-enriched soils if you have access to alkaline soil only.

Furthermore, for continuous successful harvesting, practice crop rotation and avoid planting strawberries where you have recently grown peppers, tomatoes, or eggplants.

 

Water

The strawberry plant needs regular watering to fully thrive and produce sweet, tasty berries. A water level of one to two inches should be maintained, especially during the fruit-bearing season. 

The everyday watering schedule keeps the plant fresh and hydrated, saving it from several diseases and pests.

For the greatest results, water the strawberry plant with a drip or soaker hose, ideally placed two inches away from the plant. 

The strawberry plant’s roots are pretty sensitive to overwatering; therefore, please do not add excess water. 

In the harvesting season, ensure your strawberry plant’s allowed to dry out slightly before watering again. The continuous moisture may expose the plant to various infectious diseases and pests, such as root rot and aphids

Additionally, please refrain from watering in the evenings. If you are using pots for growing the strawberries, regularly check for adequate drainage.

 

Light

The strawberry plants love basking in the sun’s glory and so need at least six hours of sunlight every day. 

To help them develop their sweet taste, place the plant where it receives unobstructed sunlight from all directions. 

If growing indoors, place the strawberry plant in front of an east- or south-facing window. 

If you have more than one plant, please make sure that they are evenly spaced, as strawberries are quick to catch diseases. Alternatively, you can grow this wonderful plant under artificial growing lights.

For the strawberry plants growing outdoors, locations such as patio, gardens, balconies, and terraces work great. 

The goal is to keep the plant in six to ten hours of sunlight so that it germinates and bears fruit relatively faster.

 

Temperature

The strawberry plant prefers moderate temperatures, which support its growth and help it produce sweet berries. 

Ideally, the temperatures should be between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 26.6 degrees Celsius). 

Although the plant can withstand temperatures as low as 22 degrees Fahrenheit (-5.5 degrees Celsius), keeping it in a reasonably warm environment is better. 

The low temperature significantly increases the probability of frost, complicating things for the gardener by decreasing the yield and overall productivity.

While descending temperatures promote the strawberry plant’s reproductive phase, the ascending temperatures push the plant towards its vegetative phase (stolons production). 

A balance between the two extremes is necessary, as that is only when the plant rewards us with sweet berries.

 

Humidity

For achieving the maximum yield with the most flavorful strawberries, maintain humidity levels of 65% to 75%. 

The high moisture keeps the plant well-hydrated, protecting it from numerous problems, including wilting and yellow leaves.

However, perpetual exposure to high humidity levels has detrimental effects. The strawberry fruit is highly susceptible to fruit-rot and bacterial blight. 

In contrast, when the weather is dry, diseases such as powdery mildew can pose a threat. 

Therefore, closely monitor how much moisture your strawberry plant needs. While providing it with its desired humidity levels, ensure that it is placed in the sunlight every day. 

The sun exposure will help get rid of excess moisture and also kill any pathogens if present.

 

Fertilizer

The strawberry plant is not a heavy feeder. Fertilizing it with a high-quality, balanced NPK fertilizer every six weeks produces great results. 

The fertilizer should contain all the essential macro- as well as micronutrients for the fruit to develop its characteristic sweetness.

Nutrients such as ammonium sulfate or organic feeds, including feather, fish, and bone meal, work exceptionally well. Per 100 square feet, use about half a pound. 

Alternatively, you can buy fertilizers made explicitly for berries; they come with the application instructions on their packaging.

To help move the fertilizer towards the strawberry plant’s root zone, irrigate only after adding the fertilizer. If you see a few leaves lighter than the rest or there is a lack of vigor, add more feed.

 

Repotting

The strawberry plant’s soil must be refreshed every few months to flourish fully and produce juicy, sweet strawberries. 

One of the greatest times to do this is when you are repotting the plant. Ideally, change the plant’s pot every year.

Repotting is done best during the early spring season, when the strawberry plant shows initial signs of growth, such as sprouting of leaves and roots. 

You may repot the plant into the same container; however, if the root ball is too tight, use one size bigger pot.

Once you have taken the strawberry plant out of its old pot, comb off as much of the old compost as possible and replant it with new, fresh compost containing materials such as peat moss and fish emulsion.

 

Pruning

The strawberry plant, unlike other berry bushes, does not need heavy pruning. 

I strongly advise you only to cut diseased and old foliage as the other healthy, functional leaves are most responsible for producing fruit. Also, prune either in the summers or after the growing season.

Eliminating dead or diseased foliage will make room for new, healthier leaves and vines. It will also prevent the plant from using up its nutrients on overly mature, unproductive parts. 

Easy markers for leaves requiring pruning are yellowing and loss of glossy appearance.

Please use clean tools on your plant and wear protective clothing while pruning or repotting.

 

Propagation

The best time for propagating the strawberry plant is early spring when the weather is adequately cool and moist. 

  • Start with watering the strawberry plant a night before the propagation process.
  • The next day, make a rough circle two to three inches away from the plant’s crown as a guide for digging the plant.
  • Start digging the plant to a depth of six inches with a sharp and clean garden towel. Carefully, take the plant, along with its roots, out of the soil.
  • With a disinfected knife, cut through the plant’s root ball, making two halves. Rid of the excess soil by gently shaking the plant.
  • Now subdivide each of the root balls into smaller strawberry plants, each with at least 6 to 12 healthy roots and a crown of half an inch in diameter. 
  • Dig a new hole for each of your plantlets in the soil and put the plant in it. Cover the plant with more soil, only exposing the foliage and stems. 
  • Water the plant regularly and add some mulch for extra moisture. 

In about two months or longer, you will see new growth in the plant. Till then, treat it as a baby strawberry plant.

 

Blooms

Different varieties of strawberry plants produce different flowers. The most famous blooms are those appearing in the early part of summer or late spring. 

They originate in the plant’s crowns and grow into sweet and delicious strawberries, provided they are kept in the ideal conditions.

The flowers have different colors; pink, white, or others, with a bright yellow stigma at the center. However, what they have in common is six petals, but even 5 to 8 petals are also found in some. 

The flower size also varies, but most are about 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) or 14 to 16 inches (35 to 40 centimeters).

 

Growth

The strawberry plant should ideally be planted in spring when both the soil and weather are cool. It grows actively in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8 as perennials and zones 9 to 10 as annuals.

With a moderate growth rate, the strawberry plant reaches a height of about 12 inches (25 centimeters) in two months. 

The strawberry seedling develops at a rate of 12 inches over six months. 

 

Common Problems for Strawberry Plant

 

Red Stele Root Rot

While growing juicy, sweet strawberries is one of a gardener’s greatest pleasures, protecting them from diseases is one of their toughest jobs. 

The strawberry plant suffers from Red Stele Root Rot, often due to a fungus residing in the soil.

The plant develops a red core in its roots in heavy, excess water-retaining soils. It’s especially prevalent in the northern 2/3 of the USA, causing serious problems.

Spray it with a fungicide and place it under the sun to eliminate extra moisture. Moreover, water the plant only when needed and let it dry out between watering.

 

Leaf Spot

Another frequent disease of the strawberry plant is Leaf Spot. The fungus Mycosphaerella fragariae infects the plant, producing reddish-purple spots 1/8 to 1/4 inches in diameter on multiple parts.

The strawberry plant’s stolons, petioles, caps (calyces), fruit stalks, and ripe strawberries may be affected. The berries take up this infection from surrounding, infected plants.

To eliminate the fungal infection, apply fungicide to the plant. 

Moreover, isolate the diseased plant promptly and inspect surrounding plants for any symptoms to limit further spread.

 

Leaf Variegation

This mysterious disease, leaf variegation, occurs due to unknown causes. Its other names include spring yellows, June yellows, and chlorosis. 

The disease mainly occurs in plants with Blakemore, Howard 17, or Auchincruive Climax cultivars as ancestors. 

The disease manifests as yellow or white streaks on new leaflets. Unfortunately, the infected plant rarely survives and dies in an unproductive, dwarf-like form.

There are not many ways to protect the plant against this disease; however, buying disease-resistant varieties can be highly helpful.

 

Tips for Growing Sweet Strawberries

  • Grow in mildly acidic soils.
  • Plant in well-draining and fertile soils.
  • Practice regular watering.
  • Use fertilizers high in ammonium sulfate.
  • Protect from diseases and fungal infections; treat promptly in case of an infection. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Sweet Strawberries Plant Care

 

How do I ensure my plant produces sweet strawberries?

Grow the plant in fertile, well-draining soils and maintain one to two inches of water. Furthermore, use fertilizers high in ammonium sulfate and place in 60% or higher humidity.

 

What affects sweetness in strawberries?

The ideal strawberry fruit has a correct balance of sweetness and acidity. As the fruit ripens, its sugar content rises from 6% to 9% from 5%. Simultaneously, its acidity decreases, giving the plant its characteristic taste.

 

Which strawberry is the sweetest?

The Diamente strawberries are the sweetest, with a large size, excellent flavor, and exceptional quality.

 

Conclusion

Growing sweet strawberries is no science; all you have to do is keep the plant in direct sunlight, feed it every six weeks, and provide it with moderate moisture and fertile soils. 

For the best results, plant varieties that are known to have a sweeter taste and are fairly disease-resistant.