What could be better than picking juicy, sweet strawberries straight from one’s own garden, right? These delightful bite-sized fruits are easy to grow, and with a little bit of care, can yield a very rewarding harvest.
Unfortunately, a common problem hobby gardeners face is that their plants produce small fruits with stunted growth.
Read on to find out the reasons why your strawberries might be smaller than the norm.
Why are My Strawberries so Small?
Some strawberry varieties are naturally small, in which case their tiny stature is normal. However, there are other issues like excessive rain, wind, heat, or drought, overfertilization, crowding with other plants, pests, and diseases that can affect the plant’s yield.
What Size Should Strawberries Be
When we think of strawberries, we usually imagine the conical, juicy red fruit displayed in supermarkets. However, many types of strawberries bear smaller, rounder fruit as a result of their genetics.
Wild strawberries and heirloom strawberries, for example, are exceptionally tasty and aromatic, but they are not as big as “normal” strawberries, only measuring in at about three-quarters of an inch.
Often referred to as “true strawberries,” these smaller varieties can also be purchased for planting at many local garden centers and nurseries.
Before you worry about the size of your fruits, first identify the species of strawberry you have planted in your garden.
Weather and Strawberry Size
As a rule, strawberries don’t thrive when the area’s experiencing extreme weather conditions . Too much heat, wind, rain, or drought can distress strawberry plants and have an adverse effect on the size of their fruit.
Drought-ridden and tropical environments, for example, are ill-suited to strawberries.
They lack woody tissue, which means that they depend on the turgor pressure created by water to maintain their shape and general health. Without access to sufficient water, they become dehydrated and distressed and cannot expend their energy on growing fruit.
Similarly, too much heat close to their roots will stress them out and reduce their overall productivity.
When it comes to rain and wind, strawberries can handle these conditions in relative doses, but it can impact their pollination cycles.
Beneficial insects like bees may be deterred from pollinating strawberry plants purely because they cannot access them. Strawberries need to be thoroughly pollinated to produce full-sized fruits.
Overfertilizing and Strawberries
While strawberries enjoy a little bit of feeding now and then, too much of a good thing can stunt fruit production and “confuse” both your plants and their pollinators.
When excessive nitrogen is present in strawberry plants’ soil, it may lead to vigorous plants that bear small or no fruit.
This is because strawberries can reproduce in two ways, namely, stoloniferous reproduction (self-cloning) and through the formation of seeds.
Nitrogen-rich soil provides strawberry plants with plenty of energy for the former.
Therefore, a strawberry growing in nitrogen-heavy soil may tend away from seed production and produce smaller fruit by default. Fewer blossoms also lead to fewer pollinators, further inhibiting fruit yield.
Crowding strawberries and Fruit Size
If strawberries are vying for resources in a garden bed, they may produce smaller fruit, so it is important to ensure they are not crowded.
When planting, make sure your strawberries are at least 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 centimeters) apart so that they have space to shoot out their runners and grow freely.
It is equally important to weed them regularly so that they don’t need to fight for minerals, nutrients, and water.
Pests and Diseases Impacting the Size of My Strawberries
Fungal or bacterial infections that harm the stems and roots of strawberry plants will result in deformed or tiny fruits.
Parasitic infestations that feed on strawberry plants are also exceptionally damaging, leading to injured fruits with hard, unpleasant tips.
Chief among these types of culprits is the lygus bug, a common enemy of the garden strawberry.
Fortunately, pests and diseases can be dealt with if caught early on. Inspect your plants regularly to ensure no tell-tale signs of ill health, such as drooping, wilted leaves, or unwelcome little insects.
Other Reasons for Small Strawberries
In some cases, strawberries may start to produce small fruit once they exceed a certain age. Older plants gradually have less and smaller fruit, usually around the three- or four-year mark.
Naturally, strawberries that are not planted correctly or in the right conditions will also struggle to grow with vigor and produce full-sized harvests.
These gorgeous little plants require good sun and clean, well-draining soil that is frequently watered.
Frequently Asked Questions about Why My Strawberries are Small
How long do strawberry plants grow fruit?
In late spring, strawberry plants will start to show flowers. Roughly six weeks later, they should be fruiting and ready to harvest.
Can I eat small strawberries?
Some naturally small strawberries, like wild strawberries, are both nutritious and delicious. Make sure, however, that you are eating a genetically small strawberry and not a diseased one.
Why are my strawberries covered in seeds?
Overly seedy strawberries result from insufficient pollination. A small and stunted stature generally accompanies the appearance of unusual amounts of seeds. It indicates that the seeds are not able to bolster the growth of the berry around them.
Strawberries are lovely to have in the garden, but it can be very frustrating to await your yield only to find small or deformed fruits.
Fortunately, equipping yourself with the knowledge of what your strawberry plants need goes a long way to ensuring their happiness, health, and hefty harvests.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.