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When the Heat is About to Scorch Your Strawberry Plants, Protect Them These 8 Ways

Nice big juicy red strawberries hanging from the vine

Introducing Methods to Protect Strawberries from Extreme Heat

A couple of years ago I bought myself my very first strawberry plant. I finally had an apartment that had a south facing window which allowed me to take advantage of the very short growing season in Montreal, Canada.

I was so excited. I could finally attempt to grow those fruits that absolutely demand a ton of sunlight, so I naturally brought a golden cherry tomato plant and a strawberry plant. Needless to say, growing these sensitive edible plants was quite a learning experience. 

I remember I would give my strawberry plant a huge mason jar full of water before I left for work, and when I would return home 8 hours later, it was like the strawberry had all of the life sucked out of it!

It was so hot on the balcony that it would need two huge mason jars of water a day to survive. Every time I would would come home it would be entirely wilted, and within an hour of me watering it, it would return to normal. 

I remember thinking “there has to be a better way” – I was concerned that this was too much stress for the strawberry plant. And turns out that yes, there are way better ways to protect strawberry plants from extreme. 

This article is going to go through all of the different methods that you can employ if you happen to live in a region that experiences some super intense summer heat. And believe me, they work! I was munching on candy-sweet, home grown strawberries in no time. 

Single ripening strawberry

8 Ways to Protect your Strawberry Patch from Hot Summer Heat

The more you start to garden, the more understand that there are some plants that just don’t belong in certain climates. It’s weird to see a palm tree in Quebec, as it is equally as weird to see a pine tree in Florida. 

Strawberries are one of those plants that have specific growth requirements in order to stay happy and to yield a successful harvest. However, there are some ways to deal with extreme climates and make it work for both you and the plant! 

Strawberries can be grown successfully as perennials in USDA growing zones 5 through 8, or as cool season annuals in zones 9 and 10, so keep your growing zone in mind going forward. 

1. Smart Planting Location 

The first and best thing that you can do for a strawberry plant (or any plant) is to plant it in an area that is appropriate for the plant’s needs. Strawberries like to live in areas that receive a lot of sun, in well draining soil, and with tons of water. 

This is simple if you live in an area with more mild summer temperatures, but if you live in a place with super hot summers, you’ll have to plan accordingly. You can do this by planting in an area on your property that has a couple extra qualities.

Number one is choosing an area that gets shade in the heat of the afternoon sun, say behind a south facing tree. The second is choosing a site that may be near a pond or the edge of a woodland, as these areas will have cooler soil that has great moisture retention. 

Beautiful strawberry plants with ripening berries

2. Choosing the Right Variety

Another great way to ensure that a strawberry patch can be happy in your yard is by choosing a variety that is more heat tolerant. Horticulturists are truly mind bogglingly smart for their ability to create new strains so that they’re more tolerant to certain conditions.

There are a good handful of heat-tolerant cultivars that you can choose from, including: Alexandria, Albion, Sweet Charlie, Camarosa, Camino Real, and Chandler. (Honestly I would name my first born any of those names.)

3. Grow in Containers

Growing plants in containers is a really great way to give yourself some more control over the situation, especially when it comes to soil quality, location, and watering. Choosing a container made of ceramic is ideal since they are porous and encourage air flow. 

Using a growing container to plant strawberries is the best option if you’re feeling unsure about how the growing season will go. This way you can easily change location if things get mega hot or unexpectedly cold.

Strawberry patches with area covered with straw mulch

4. Cover with Mulch 

Mulch is a really great way to help with temperature control, whether you are trying to protect your plants from super hot weather or super cold weather.

Mulch works because it creates an insulation layer, and this not only controls the temperature of the soil, but it protects the roots of the plant from intense temperature changes, and it ensures that soil doesn’t dry out too quickly as well.

Just cover the top soil around your plants with a thin layer of mulch. The best type of mulch to use for strawberry plants is straw or pine needles and this still allows a ton of air flow so that soil doesn’t stay moist for too long. 

5. Water Correctly 

As I mentioned in the intro, proper watering is another way to keep a strawberry plant happy. I was watering my strawberry plant frequently, but I wasn’t watering it deeply. If you just water the top layer of soil it will evaporate so quickly that it will never get a chance to reach the roots.

Make sure to water you strawberry patch either early in the morning or later in the day when temperatures have cooled off. When soil is cool, the plant is way more receptive to water uptake.

It’s also important not to over water your plant, as it doesn’t appreciate having wet feet either. If the leaves of your strawberry start to turn light green, there is a very good chance that it’s being over watered. 

Gardeners hands planting young strawberry plants

6. Don’t Fertilize 

Another super important tip to remember (not everyone knows about this one!) is that you actually shouldn’t fertilize a strawberry plant in the summer time when the temperatures are at their highest. 

When temperatures are high, the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients greatly diminishes. So if you give fertilizer to the plant it will actually just collect in the soil and dry out and what will be left is the fertilizer’s salt, which will make the soil even more dry. 

7. Right Timing 

And last but certainly not least, choosing the right timing to plant your strawberry plants is going to be what makes or breaks the success of your harvest. The time of year that you plant your plants will be determined on the USDA zone that you live in. 

If you live in hotter zones and you’re growing your plants as annuals – like in zones 9 and 10 – it is best to plant in September and prepare for a winter harvest. This is unusual, since in zones 5-8 you are more likely to plant in the late spring and plan for a late summer harvest. 

8. An Extra Little Tip…

At the end of the day, the most profound thing that you can do for your plants – strawberry or otherwise – is just pay attention. Much like a human, strawberry plants have needs that change every day depending on the weather.

I know I need a little extra warmth when it gets cold, and sometimes I like a dry-out period when it’s been raining for a long time. Just treat your plants like you would a friend, and they will reward you with precious little candy-sweet treats at the end of the season. 

Gorgeous red ripening strawberry plants in a row