Enjoying a freshly picked strawberry is one of the many joys that summer brings. But how many summers will your strawberry plant last? While growing strawberries is relatively easy, if not cared for properly you could be creating more work for yourself by replacing your plants every year. With a few special steps, you can make your strawberry plants last longer, produce better fruit, and even get a better crop yield. Keep reading to find out just how often your strawberry plant should be fruiting, how long it should last, and how and how not to care for it.
When do strawberries produce fruit?
You can plant three different types of strawberries, June-bearing varieties, everbearing varieties, and day-neutral varieties. Depending on what variety you plant in your garden, your harvest times, and berry production will differ.
June-bearing varieties of strawberries will bear their fruit all at once, with a harvest period of about 3 weeks. These strawberries will grow buds in the fall, and flowers and eventually fruit in June. Runners will also develop during the summer months. All strawberries will pop up in a 3 week period in June but can appear earlier if you live in a warmer climate.
Day-neutral strawberry varieties are strawberries that produce fruit until the first frost. Day-neutral are not affected by the shorter day lengths of autumn that provide less light and will produce fruit “continuously if temperature remains between 35° and 85°F (1° to 30°C)”. While day-neutral strawberry plants will produce for much longer, they will produce less than other varieties.
Everbearing strawberry varieties will produce berries in the spring, summer, and fall, hence their name. The spring crop will be the largest, with a lighter crop in summer, and another smaller crop in the fall or late summer depending on climate. You will see buds develop in the summer and autumn. Buds and flowers in the summer will become the fruits of the fall, and the buds and flowers grown in autumn will produce fruit the next spring.
How many times will a strawberry plant produce fruit?
While most strawberry plants can produce fruit for multiple years, the yield each year can lessen. The amount of fruit produced will also depend on multiple factors like climate, variety of strawberry plants, etcetera. Typically, strawberry plant fruit production will begin to dwindle after 2 or three years. A June-bearing strawberry plant therefore which produces once a year for 3 weeks in June, can produce 2 or 3 full harvests before the number of fruit produces begins to dwindle. An everbearing plant could produce 6-12 times. While the yield will decrease after 2 or 3 years, keeping good care of your strawberry plants could extend their lifespan.
A very well cared for strawberry plant can produce fruit for up to 3 or 4 years before it needs to be replaced. June-bearing and everbearing strawberry plants can produce for up to 4 years with regular rejuvenation and pruning, however, the yield will likely decrease over time. Day-neutral plants however typically only last 1 or 2 years, and are typically replaced every year. Though June-bearing plants only fruit for 3 weeks out of the year, they produce the largest crop all at once compared to other varieties. They also typically last for more years than other varieties and can produce fruit much more consistently. For this reason, many gardeners recommend using the June-bearing variety of strawberry plants for your home garden.
To extend the lifespan of your strawberries and avoid annual replacements, it’s important to keep your plants in good shape. Your strawberry plants may require pruning, or rejuvenation to keep them producing the best quality fruit and highest yield. Trimming the runners off of your strawberry plants not only allows you to propagate and multiply your supply of strawberry plants, but it can also increase the health of your mother or parent plants. You should trim runners as they grow roots and replant them in separate pots to root firmly before planting them in the garden.
Mistakes to avoid
As a novice gardener, it’s inevitable that a few mistakes will be made. But to prevent as many mistakes as possible, and save your crops, you should know how to avoid these mistakes before they happen.
Planting your strawberries in the wrong spot
Growing strawberries require about 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If they don’t get enough sun they will yield lower quality fruit and a smaller crop. Pick a spot in your garden that receives direct sun all day for the strongest strawberry plant.
Not understanding your strawberry variety
As we covered earlier, strawberries come in 3 varieties. Each variety comes with a certain set of requirements. Be sure to research the strawberry varieties to decide which is best for you, and purchase the correct variety. Certain varieties will thrive in your climate while others won’t, so it’s important to plant the correct variety for the most successful harvest.
Keeping runners attached to the plant
Your strawberry plant will eventually grow long stems called runners. These runners will grow leaves and roots, and eventually, transform into entire plants of their own. If these runners are left attached to the parent plant, they can begin to divert away from the much-needed nutrients and energy, which can cause the parent plant to produce lower-quality fruit. Check your plant for runners and remove any that have root nodes, or small roots. Replant them in pots to grow deeper stronger roots, and then eventually back into your garden.
Under or over watering your strawberries
Strawberry plants like plenty of water, but not so much that their roots can rot. This is another reason why it’s so important that they get enough sun. Keeping your plants moist is especially crucial as they grow they become established growing leaves, roots, and flowers. Once your plants are larger, it’s still important to keep the roots moist until they are harvested. If you live in a particularly dry climate you can cover the soil with straw or mulch to keep it moist.
Tips for getting more crops from strawberry plants
To keep your strawberry yield high, and your strawberry plants lasting longer, you need to take good care of your plants. There are a few game-changing tips you can implement when caring for your strawberry plants to get the best crops and the longest lifespan.
The June-bearing strawberry plant is recommended for most gardens because it yields the best crops, and can typically last longer than other varieties. To carry your June-bearing strawberry plant into a new year, however, you will need to carry out rejuvenation after a harvest. Immediately after harvesting in June, your plant will require rejuvenation. “Mow the strawberry plants down to a 2 to 4 inch height” without cutting the crowns. The plants should be spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, so thin out any plants that extend past this boundary. Your strawberry plants will remain dormant throughout the winter and return in the Spring.
Most strawberry plant varieties will develop runners, which are long stems that shoot off of the main plant and eventually grow into clone plants. The clone plants can begin to divert energy and nutrients from the parent plant if they are not propagated, or in other words, detached from the parent plant. To keep your parent plant in its best condition, and multiply your strawberry plant garden, make sure to propagate runners. You can trim runners away from the parent plant after they have grown root nodes or small roots. Repot them into smaller pots so they can strongly root. After they have fully developed roots, you can replant them in the garden.
The frequency you will need to water your strawberry plants will of course depend on the climate. If your area receives 1-1.5 inches of rain per week, you can skip watering your crops altogether . However, in dryer climates, or during the hotter months, you should give your strawberry plants about an inch of water every week, or more if the weather is particularly hot.
Generally, strawberry plants that receive full sun will produce more, and better quality fruit. Be sure to plant your strawberry plants in an area of your garden that receives full sun for at least 8 hours each day. This could result in your plants producing more and even larger strawberries.
Strawberry plants typically do best when planted in raised beds, as this allows you to have better control of the soil, and keeps them away from some pests. Use soil with plenty of organic matter, or compost to provide the most nutrients to your plants. Nitrogen-rich fertilizer is also a great addition.
- Almanac. “Strawberries”
- Gardening Know How. “Strawberry Water Needs – Learn How To Water Strawberries“
- SFGATE. “Does the Same Strawberry Plant Fruit Every Year?“
- SF GATE. “Do Strawberry Plants Like Sun or Shade?“