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How to Grow Strawberries from Seeds (Step-by-Step Detail)

Learning how to grow strawberries from seed is the cheapest way to have a large number of strawberry plants, but it also requires the most patience because strawberry seeds can take up to a month to germinate. There are several tricks for growing strawberries from seeds. Here are the step-by-step method.

Steps in growing strawberry from seeds.

The most common way to grow strawberries is from the root, or what is called bareroot. This makes it easier to get your fruit faster. However, gardening strawberries from seeds is also very common, as many gardeners enjoy being solely responsible for watching fruit appear after planting a mere seed in soil one day.

When you are planting from seeds, the only difference in gardening that you will notice is that your fruit will take longer to bear. You may need to wait until the next fruit season for your strawberries, but the wait will be worth it.  

As strawberries are perennials, your first wait will be the longest, then you will have strawberries year after year. Before you start to grow strawberries from seeds, use this guide that provides step-by-step detail.

Step 1: Choose Your Kind of Strawberry

Strawberry fruits in the garden.

When you are getting ready to plant strawberry seeds, you may want to start with seeds right from a strawberry itself, as many people do. This is an easy and affordable way to collect a lot of seeds to start your own strawberry garden. If you are going to buy seeds, you want to do some research, and know what you want, before you purchase anything.

Many people want to have strawberries in June. When strawberries grow in the garden, this is when they usually bear fruit, and sometimes in late May. To get strawberries in June, you will need to choose Chandler, Cabot, Jewel, or Earliglow strawberries. Strawberries can be harvested many times a season, from Spring to Autumn, including Tribute and Tristar, which are called everbearing strawberries.

The other kind of strawberry that you will hear most often of are day-neutral strawberries. These are strawberries that can be harvested as late as autumn. The most common kinds of strawberries that are day-neutrals are Albion, Seascape, and Evie. Woodlands is another kind of day-neutral strawberry, but grows on bushes as opposed to plants and flowers.

It is the June-bearing strawberries that will be harvested in the year following your plant. Any other kind of strawberry will harvest when they have grown enough to be harvested.

For strawberries that you will be able to harvest for weeks or months at a time, you want everbearing strawberries and day-neutral strawberries. If you don’t want to harvest strawberries for a long time in the season and want a short season, then June-bearing strawberries are the best ones for you.

You also need to consider your containers when you are choosing your seeds. If you are planting outdoors in the ground, it won’t matter what kind of seeds you choose. For day-neutral strawberries, you can use containers either indoors or outdoors very easily.

Step 2: Prepare the Seeds

Germinating strawberry seeds in ziplock.

Once you have selected the seeds, you need to prepare them for planting. One method of preparing seeds is called stratification. This simply involves freezing the seeds from one night to one month to get the seeds accustomed to cooler temperatures.

You can put them in an envelope or a Ziplock that seals and put them in the freezer for a little while. The fridge will work as well, but the darkness of the freezer is ideal if you are stratifying seeds.

If you want June-bearing fruit, you should be stratifying your seeds by January at the earliest. You can also leave that until February, but don’t want to leave it too much longer than that. After some time has passed, take the seeds from the freezer and put them out to thaw overnight. You can open the seeds the following day.

This seed preparation is an important step in ensuring that your seeds will sprout well. When you stratify your seeds, you break the cycle of dormancy and teach the seed what the seasonal cycles will feel like. Once you have stratified your seeds, you can begin to plant them.

Step 3: Plant the Strawberry Seeds

Planting strawberry seeds in pot.

To prepare your planters for your seedlings, you want to have containers that have holes in the bottom. These holes will be important for draining water. Well-drained soil is an important element in growing any plant, and strawberries are no exception.

Your soil will enjoy moisture and water, and whatever it does not need will need a place to go. This is what the holes in the bottom of containers for planting are made for.

Fill the containers with soil that is nutrient-rich. You want to use a soil that is a known potting soil that has the right pH and nutrient content. There are a few ways to plant your seeds now.

One way is to not plant them at all and to simply sprinkle the top of your soil with the strawberry seeds. Another method is to put them just under a very shallow layer of soil no more than one-half inch thick or even thinner. The school of thought behind this is that the seeds are tiny, to begin with. They don’t need more than a few specks of dirt on top of them to germinate into something wonderful.

This will happen naturally by just sprinkling the seeds on top of the soil. Putting the seeds in too deep means you will wait for them to sprout and may lose some along the way.

If you can plant them or spread them at least one inch apart over the soil, even better. The strawberries are going to be easy to transplant in a few weeks either way, but spreading them apart now will help later.

Now, you need to put your seedlings into the light for at least six hours a day. You should see some seedlings sprout within the first two weeks, and don’t be surprised if you see more after that. You want to keep your container temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure optimal sprouting.

Step 4: Fertilize the Strawberry Seeds

Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food, Plant Fertilizer, 4.5 lbs.

Fertilizing is one of the most important components of any plant life cycle. You can begin fertilizing as soon as the seedlings have sprouted and have kept going for a week or two. You will then want to fertilize approximately every two weeks. This should start no later than six weeks after germination.

There is a wide range of fertilizers that you can use when you are growing strawberries from seedlings. You can purchase am, which are small pellets that you simply push into the soil of the planters, and allow the soil and the plants to do their job with it. You can also use a liquid fertilizer and feed your plants with that.

After you have fertilized your seedlings, it is going to be time to harden them. This will allow your plants to get used to being outside if you are going to keep them as outdoor plants. You can, and should, also add fertilizer to each hole that you are transplanting seeds into when you move them outside.

Step 5: Harden Your Strawberry Seeds

Strawberry sprouts in small pots.

Now it is time to harden any strawberry plants that you will be planting outdoors. Hardening of plants means that you take them outside a little bit at a time before you move them outdoors for good. To start hardening, bring your plants outdoors for a little bit of time, in shade or protected areas.

You want to start by hardening approximately 30 minutes at a time and gradually lengthening the amount of time the plants stay outdoors. The reason for this is that the plants will use this time to become accustomed to being outside. After you have done this every day for a few weeks, it will be that much easier for your plants to live outdoors when the time comes.

When you are ready to plant the strawberries, you want to check that you are putting them in a good soil. Drainage is key. To determine if the soil drains well, you need to dig a hole that is approximately one foot to one and one-half foot deep.

Fill the hole with water. If the water stays in the soil, it’s not a great place to plant. If the water absorbs into the soil, this is a good spot for strawberries.

Step 6: Begin Your Planting

Farmer planting strawberry plant in the garden,

You want your strawberries to be at least two feet apart. In addition to growing plants and blossoms, your strawberry plants are going to have runners. These are long stems that will shoot from the bottom of the plants that can be cut or trimmed off to create new plants in time.

Ever-bearing strawberries will not have as many runners as other varieties. You may want to plant ever-bearing for that reason if you don’t want to worry about what to do with runners from your strawberries. Runners are somewhat of an acquired gardener’s taste. Some love them, some hate them. Those that love them love how runners can help to stimulate new growth in time.

When you are planting, you will notice that the roots are not that long. This means what you think it means. It won’t need a deep hole to go into. You only need to just bury the base of the strawberry plant.

A good rule of thumb is to soak the roots in water before you plant them. This makes it easier to plant and also makes it easier for them to get used to their new surroundings. Once you have planted, you may want to add mulch to the top layer of soil to help your plant stay warm and moist over the season.

While you are waiting for strawberries to arrive, you may want to test the soil to determine if it has enough nutrients. This will help you to determine how much fertilizer you will need.

You can purchase soil testers to do this, and these will give you a readout for NPK ratios. The NPK ratio can then be found on store-bought fertilizers. Strawberries like balanced fertilizers, and you may want to purchase one that has the same three numbers, such as 10-10-10 on the labels.

Strawberries also like their soil to be acidic. This means the pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 6.5. If you think the soil pH is on the low side, you may want to add lime to it. This will help to add some acid to the soil. The best time to do this is the season before you plant or a few months prior. If the soil is too high in acid, you can add aluminum sulfate to it instead.

Step 6: Time to Harvest

Woman hands holding a basket full of starwberry.

In time, you will have strawberries, and then it will be time to harvest. Between planting and harvesting, you need to watch your strawberries’ water levels, and then you will need to watch for the blossoms. The blossoms will turn into strawberries. You can get away with watering every other day for strawberries or not at all if your season has a lot of rain.

To harvest, cut the berry at the base of the stem and cut them from the plant. You don’t want to pick them unless they are ready to pick and almost ready to fall off. You will have nicer strawberries if you cut them from the stems. Never pull at the strawberry, or you will be pulling from the plant and could upend its root system.

When the season is over, it is time to cover the strawberries. You can do this with mulch, row covers, or even fleece that is staked over the plants. This will keep them warm in the winter until the next season.

By the time the next season arrives, you can pull the mulch off and prepare the grounds for the next batch of strawberries.  You may even want to start a new batch of seedlings. By this time of the season, you will feel like an expert gardener of strawberries and will be eager to get a new row of seedlings ready for the next year.