Growing Strawberries in Pots

Strawberries are members of the large Rose family. The plant is native to Europe and was developed as a commercial fruit by the French about 200 years ago.

The name derives from the fact that plants were strewn over the ground from runners. The strawberry is not a true berry, as the seeds are on the outside of the fruit. However, volunteer plants from seeds are not common.

Commercially, we produce about 9000t fruit per year, mainly by Vietnamese growers just north of Perth. Varieties that produce fruit in Perth under short-days are best for Perth. Try and obtain American varieties such as Chandler and Pajaro, which used to be commercial varieties in Western Australia. The main commercial variety, Camerosa, is not available in nurseries. There are many varieties in nurseries that may produce only a moderate crop. However, if you find a good variety, propagate it from runners at the end of the season.

I used to grow plants in soil, but there was too much stooping and more trouble from slugs and slaters. I now have about 80 plants in pots, ranging in size from 13 to 20 cm diameter. They are grown in proprietary potting mixture, containing “Osmocote Plus”. Pots are spaced side by side on a small wall, to reduce damage from slaters and for ease of picking. I look under the pots occasionally and squash any slaters that I see. A raised bed would also be suitable for strawberries. Regularly remove old leaves and old fruiting stems. A minimum of 6 hours sunshine per day is needed.

Water well, especially when the young plants are establishing, and 1-2 times per day in summer. I apply a wetting agent monthly, so that the plants receive water evenly. I use rainwater, as much as possible, although tapwater is suitable from December if the tank has run dry. I fertilise monthly with a soluble NPK type fertiliser which contains many nutrients.

Pick the berries from July to early December when fruit is fully red. Eat the same day, or store in the fridge for a few days

After 2-3 years, remove old plants and replant with new stock. From mid December, strawberry plants do not produce flowers and may send out runners. These can be used to propagate new plants. Runners may be pegged down in an adjacent small 10 cm pot and will root to form a new plant. Alternatively, I place the pots on soil in summer and let the runners root in soil. These can then be placed in pots or raised beds in autumn.

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John Burt

photo of strawberry plant in a pot. Spacer.