When to Plant Strawberries
Love fresh strawberries? Grow your own this year.
I’m a big fan of u-pick farms and have spent choice hours duck-walking along strawberry rows, gathering those bright red berries. The sore muscles that follow all that crouch-and-stoop picking are worth every sweet, juicy bite.
There’s just one thing that’s better than a bucket full of u-pick strawberries, and that’s the ones you grow yourself. Picking berries to toss onto cereal while in your pj’s—not much beats that. If you love fresh strawberries, consider growing your own. It’s planting season.
Planting Time Signals
When you plant strawberries, you plant either dormant, bareroot strawberry crowns or transplants, which have leaves.
- The right time for planting dormant crowns is in late winter to early spring, any time night temperatures stay above 25°F. Of course, in regions where winter brings frozen ground, you must also make sure that the ground is no longer frozen. Late spring frosts don’t usually harm dormant crowns.
- The right time for planting leafy transplants, which often appear for sale in late spring, is as soon as possible in spring. These plants need to establish before summer heat arrives if they have any hope of surviving. Late spring frosts could harm leaves and possibly growing crowns.
When to Plant
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established ideal times for planting strawberries based on growing zone. These recommendations cover both in-ground beds and container planting.
- Zones 9-10: Plant from December through February.
- Zone 8: Plant from December through the middle of March.
- Zone 7: Plant from December through early April.
- Zone 6: Plant from early March to the middle of April.
- Zone 5: Plant from early April to early May.
- Zones 3-4: Plant from early May to the middle of May.
Beat the Calendar
It is possible to plant strawberries outside the ideal times by tucking them into containers. When you grow strawberries in hanging baskets, pots or a traditional strawberry jar, you can get away with planting earlier with great success. With early plantings, dodging the threat of frost is as simple as covering plants or moving the entire pot into a protected setting, such as a covered porch or garage.
The one exception is planting strawberries into a vertical garden, like a FloraFelt planting pocket (above). Strawberry plants in a vertical planter are growing in little soil and have limited protection from cold for either roots or leaves. It’s best to wait for ideal planting windows when creating a living wall of strawberries.
Too Late to Plant
It’s really too late to plant strawberries in the ground once summer heat arrives. It’s possible, but plants need a steady moisture supply, which means you need to water perhaps daily, depending on heat. Most garden centers carry strawberries at the right time of year for planting, so you may not be able to buy plants locally once summer arrives.