Growing strawberries indoors is a very easy and rewarding gardening project. With the right soil and sun conditions, strawberry plants will not only produce an abundance of fruit but they will also create runners, which provide new plants every year. An initial investment of time and money will reward you with fresh strawberries for years to come.
Strawberry plants are attractive and they produce small pretty blooms. They will provide you with food and double as a decorative indoor plant too.
Follow these tips for successfully growing strawberries indoors so you can harvest and enjoy fresh fruit and delight in having living plants inside your home.
Types of Strawberries
Strawberries come in a standard variety and an ever-bearing variety.
The standard variety, sometimes called June-bearers, will produce ripe strawberries all at once and be done for the season. They produce all their crop in or around June (as you might have guessed) and this is the best type of strawberries to grow indoors if you want to preserve the berries. The abundant crop will provide plenty of fruit for canning, freezing, jelly, and jam making.
June-bearers tend to be larger plants, produce larger berries, and develop more runners than ever-bearers. June-bearer strawberries are not as sweet as the ever-bearing varieties.
Jewel, Honeoye, and Earliglow are three dependable June-bearers and can be grown in any growing zone since they will be grown indoors.
The ever-bearing variety will produce a few ripe strawberries throughout the summer. This type will deliver a steady supply of strawberries all season, so you will have fresh berries for snacking and topping cereal, yogurt, and ice cream.
Quinalt, Hirts Evie, and Ozark Beauty are three heavy cropping ever-bearing strawberry varieties. They will put on a continuous show of colorful blooms and berries from spring through fall.
Which Container is Best?
Strawberries are not picky about the container in which they grow. As long as the container can hold soil it will work fine for growing berries.
Strawberry plants are small with the mature size being around 1-foot. This small size makes growing strawberries indoors easy since the container will take up very little space.
A hanging planter is a great container for growing strawberries indoors. The plants will spill over the sides of the container and show off blooms and berries.
A multi-tiered tower can grow several strawberry plants without taking up much indoor space. There is a wide variety of planter kits available.
How to Plant Strawberries Indoors
Strawberries have a preference for soil that is slightly on the acidic side; a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0. It should have a good balance of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, to ensure both good leaf growth and reliable fruiting. Unless you have soil testing equipment and the expertise to mix your own, it is easier to purchase a ready-made potting soil that has been formulated for growing strawberries.
Strawberry plants are provided in two ways; bare root and potted. Whichever plant type you choose, trim the strawberry plant roots to 4-inches before planting them in your chosen container. This will prevent the plants from developing a J-root system that would cause the roots to grow back up to the surface of the ground instead of growing down deeper into the soil.
After the roots have been trimmed place plants in a shallow container of water and allow the roots to soak for 20 minutes. Remove plants from water, place on paper toweling, and dust roots with kelp meal. Kelp meal is an organic fertilizer made from dried ocean seaweed and is ideal to use as a natural growth hormone for plants. It also contains potassium, iron, and trace minerals that will get the strawberry plants off to a great start.
If you are planting in a large flat container, dig 6-by-6-inch holes 12-inches apart. For smaller containers, like a hanging planter, plant no more than 2 plants in the container so the plants can have good air circulation when mature. With a multi-tier system one plant should be placed in each pot.
Create a cone of soil in the center of each planting hole. Place the plant on top of the soil cone with the crown at ground level and gently spread the roots over the cone. Carefully add soil around the roots and water plants well.
Place container in the sunniest indoor location possible. A south-west sun exposure is ideal for providing the berries with 6-8 hours of sunlight every day.
Caring for Your Crop
Water plants weekly. Feed with water-soluble plant food mixed at one-half the recommended rate every other week when the plants are producing berries. Stop feeding plants when their productive season has ended.
Trim most of the runners off as this allows the plant’s energy to be concentrated into producing more flowers and the development of larger fruits. Don’t pinch all of them off though as these will create the new plants for next growing season. I normally leave a maximum of two runners per plant. I peg these to the soil until they have rooted and then cut them from the parent plant.
Because you are growing indoors, the flowers will need to be hand pollinated in order to produce fruit. This is easily done by gently brushing the entire inside of each open flower with a soft artist’s paintbrush or a makeup brush. This should be done daily to ensure success. Once pollination has been effective, the white petals will quickly start to fall away, leaving the developing berry.
Ripening strawberries will easily rot if they come into contact with the bare soil, so always keep mulch under the berries. Gently lift the strawberries and place a layer of pine straw or hay under them.
The berries are ready to eat once they turn red. Harvest them immediately after they ripen because they rot quickly when left on the plants and this is an open invitation to disease and certain types of insects.
Do not pull the strawberry off of the stem when harvesting. If you do, the berry will spoil quicker and more vitamins and nutrients will be lost when the pulled berry is washed. Always twist the ripe strawberry off the plant or use a small pair of scissors to cut it off, leaving the stem intact.
Once harvested you should eat the strawberries as soon as possible. The natural sugar changes to starch very quickly. This is the reason why purchased strawberries never taste as sweet as those that have been freshly picked.
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The Benefits of Growing Strawberries Indoors
Growing strawberries indoors is rewarding in many ways. The beautiful plant helps purify the indoor air and the tasty berries are not only wonderful to enjoy on their own but they can be used to improve the flavor of many food items.
As with any fresh fruit or vegetable, strawberries are widely accepted to have health benefits. The berries are rich in vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants.
Strawberries are easy to establish and grow indoors. They take up very little space and produce a wonderful tasty crop. A true joy and something to be savored.
Take action and look forward to harvesting and enjoying your own crop of succulent and sweet, red berries.