Helen’s guide to growing strawberries

 

Helen Simpson, from the Mushroom Shed, tells you all you need to know about growing strawberries. She has also written articles about growing basil, brassicas, chilli, coriander, cucurbits, garlic, ginger & turmeric, mint, raspberries, rhubarb, tomatoes and lesser known herbs.

strawberryWith the leaves now falling from the trees, some plants will be starting their winter dormancy in a few weeks. Strawberries are one of these plants. This means that it is an excellent time to plant strawberry runners.

Runners or seeds?

Strawberry plants can be grown from either seeds or runners.

Seeds
Growing from seed is time consuming, as the plant can take up to 2 years to fruit. The seed is small, fiddly to handle and germinate and can be hard to find.

However, for those who like a challenge, after chilling the seed for 2-4 weeks in a closed container in the freezer, plant the seed in a good seed raising mix in small punnets or containers. Sieve some of the seed raising mix over them to lightly cover, and then keep moist. Seedlings can take up to 2 months to appear. Transplant to a larger pot when around 3 leaves have formed.

The seed is usually started in Spring or Autumn. The easiest strawberry to grow from seed is the tiny Alpine strawberry and its seed is available from many suppliers.

I have also heard of people picking the seed off the outside of strawberries with a toothpick and attempting to sprout plants from this seed. However, I have no experience with this method.

Runners
The alternative way of growing strawberry plants is from runners or established plants (which have themselves been started from runners). A ‘runner’ is a long shoot sent out from the original strawberry plant, which can itself establish a new plant once it touches the ground.

Runners are available from around mid-May onwards and should be purchased as ‘virus free’ to prevent receiving a diseased plant. Runners have little or no leaves and consist of a ‘crown’ and root system. They are the strawberry plants’ dormant stage.

Select runners which are moist, as this is an indication that they have been properly stored in a cool room before sale. Runners with dry roots may not establish. Plant as soon as possible after you purchase them, keeping moist until you do. Watch out for the formation of a grey, furry mould – wash off if some of this forms or, if badly affected, discard the runner and start afresh.

Plant the runner with the roots under the soil level and the crown sitting on top of the soil. Do not double back the roots when planting – if they are too long, simply trim to around 10 cm.

The most popular way to plant the runners is in zig-zag shaped rows about 30-35cm apart.

Soil preparation and aspect

If planting in the garden, prepare the soil as you would for a normal veggie patch – friable, with compost, manure, lime, etc. However, avoid putting fertiliser directly into the hole in which you plant the strawberries – too much nitrogen can produce huge leaf growth and not much fruit. Mulch with straw to keep dirt off plants and moisture in.

Strawberries can also be planted in pots or hanging baskets, in which case a good quality potting mix can be used. Liquid fertilise every month or so.

Plant in full sun if possible, however some shade will be tolerated.

Pest and disease management

Slugs, birds, lizards and all manner of critters enjoy eating strawberries. This can be a constant battle. Netting will prevent birds, as will growing in hanging baskets or containers on walls where birds cannot easily perch. Nets will also deter possums. Birds can be tricked by growing the white strawberry (more about coloured strawberries below), so they don’t know it’s ripe. Use your favourite method of slug prevention.

Fruiting

Strawberry flowers appear on plants around September/October and plants will fruit from November onwards, continuing into March.

After plants have finished fruiting, you can cut them back to around 10cm – re-planting any runners if more plants are desired. Every 3-4 years, consider replacing your plants to prevent virus build-up and plant in a new bed.

Varieties

Strawberries come large or small, in different colours (white, pink, red), and with different flavours.

The Alpine strawberries are the smallest. Red Gauntlet and Tioga are some older, reliable, commercial varieties, of which Tioga is sweeter and Red Gauntlet less flavoursome.

Sweetheart produces a heavy crop with small, sweet fruit.

The Albion strawberry is a more recent variety which is day neutral – that is, flower buds commence with less regard to day length than for other varieties. This enables more continuous fruit production. The Albion strawberry has a very sweet flavour, so is ideal for desserts.

And finally … how many plants?

One plant is will not provide a family feast – I would try at least 10 plants and some people recommend 30. Of course, this depends how often you like eating them!

  102 Responses to “Helen’s guide to growing strawberries”

  1. Hi Helen
    I was given three different strawberry runners this winter (Tioga, Adina and Melba). Can I plant them in the same container? Can cross-pollination occur between varieties?

    • Hi Sunny,

      The answer to both your questions is ‘yes’. But the ‘yes’ to the second question doesn’t matter because I don’t think that it will affect the fruit.

  2. Hi Helen!
    I propagated some healthy runners from my other plants into small seedling pots earlier in the year and they are happily established. I’d like to transfer them into large pots for the upcoming fruiting season but I’m not sure when would be the optimal time to do so. I’m in Melbourne and have both Tioga and Adina varieties. When do you think they’d like to be potted up?

    • Hi Genty,

      Now is a good time.

      • Would you recommend plants strawberry seeds now? And if so when would I expect to get some produce? Or would you recommend other berries for beginner gardeners ?

        • Hi Jake,

          Strawberry plants from seeds are extremely slow – it may even be over a year before you get a harvest. However, yes, you can start them from seeds now.

          If you are a beginner gardener, I’d recommend growing them from ‘runners’ and you should be eating strawberries before the end of the year. Or alternatively, buy as a potted up plant.

          Raspberries are also an easy grower – you can start from bare rooted canes or a plant at this time of year – but as they are a vine they will need training along a fence etc and can be invasive if not kept in check. It will probably the summer after this one that you get a good harvest.

          Blueberries are more difficult (but plants are easily available) – I’d try the strawberries and raspberries first.
          Nurseries also stock numerous other types of berries, so it’s really what you like to eat.

          Regards, Helen

    • Thanks! All potted up!

      Curiously, the mother Adina plants and all the runner/seedling babies are flowering profusely, even though the fruit don’t appear to be growing and ripening yet. Is it best to cut them off or leave them? I’m not sure when this variety should start fruiting. Probably not August in Melbourne though!

  3. Hi Helen,
    I live in Mornington and my strawberries are still fruiting but they taste a little bitter. Is this due to lack of sun? Shall I cut back now?
    Thanks
    Gary

  4. Hi Helen. Is mushroom compost ok for strawberries? Or would regular bought compost be better? I have strawberries as a groundcover through my entire flower garden. They have gone crazy this year with runners. I am digging out the older plants now and giving away hundreds of runners. I have had better fruit this year than in the 3 years since planting but still not huge cropping compared to the dense leaf growth. I planted into compost but have hardly fed them since. Any advice on the best way to deal with them now? Thank you so much for your excellent information. I live in Christchurch – sort of similar climate to Melbourne but not the extremes.

    • Hi Christine,

      Strawberries grow best in a friable soil – you can add mushroom compost as a soil conditioner. Don’t over-fertilise, or you’ll get a tendency towards more leaf growth at the expense of fruit.

      Coming into winter, when they go dormant, you can dig the plants up and thin them out – re-plant what you want in refreshed soil, with a sunny aspect.

      You could also try a different variety, as some varieties fruit more than others. I’m not sure what varieties you get in NZ, but if Red Gauntlet is available, it’s a reliable fruiter.

      Regards, Helen

  5. Hi Helen, I have strawberry plants that were great this summer but nothing at the moment. I live in Millicent, South Australia and these plants were given to me last year by a friend. My son and husband put black plastic under them and I’m inclined to remove it this year. We are getting lots of runners and I have trimmed them back and gave them away to a friend. My question is: do I replace the black plastic with mulch and prune back the plants? They get sun from 12pm to about 5pm and don’t seem to be suffering.
    cheers Judy

    • Hi Judy,

      I’d recommend replacing the black plastic with a layer of straw – the mulch might stay too moist after rain and cause any strawberries dangling on it to rot.

      You may want to improve the soil before putting on the straw. In winter, when the strawberry plants go dormant, you can trim them back and even lift and re-plant, if necessary.

      Regards, Helen

  6. Hi Helen, my front garden receives no sun in winter but glorious amounts in summer (south facing). Would strawberries cope with no sun during their dormant period of they are receiving lots during their fruiting season? Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Catherine, yes that should be fine, as long as the plants also receive sun from about September/October onwards, this being when they grow strongly.

      Regards, Helen

    • Hi Helen. Simple question. I planted strawberries last October and had a good crop. The plants are now still looking very green and healthy. Anything I should be doing in the hope of a good crop later in the year? I live in Box Hill Melbourne.

      • Hi David,

        With the cold weather setting in, the plants may soon loose most of their leaves and go dormant over winter.

        If you want more plants for Spring, that’s the time to cut off the runners – re-plant the runners and leave the original plant be (unless you want to move it). Fertilise early Spring, when the plants start getting new leaves, and that should give you a good crop of strawberries around November.

        Regards, Helen

        • Hi Helen, so if I’m getting this right, I should start planting the seeds and putting them in the fridge now for them to then go on the windowsill just before spring and then plant them in soil outside in spring. But with pre-bought small strawberry plants, do I buy them and plant them outside now or wait till August early September?

        • Hi Lyzee,

          Yes, you are correct with the seeds, however maybe wait a few weeks to do the fridge part, as they only need to go in there for up to 4 weeks (ie: you don’t want to be putting them on the windowsill when it’s still very cold).

          With the strawberry runners or alternatively strawberry plants, you can plant them outside in the cold weather from now onwards. They will sit there not doing much over winter, then start to get fresh leaves in Spring.

          Regards, Helen

  7. Hi Helen,
    Maybe a bit green as I’ve not heard of runners, but keen to learn. What exactly am I looking for? My 2 plants have given us some lovely fruit. Not a lot of fruit but nice enough.

  8. I’m in Melbourne. Can I plant seeds taken from a strawberry now or will it be a pointless exercise?

    • Hi Denise,

      You can plant seeds, but it takes a very long time to produce a reasonable strawberry plant. Seeds are also tricky to germinate. I’d recommend starting from strawberry runners instead.

      Regards, Helen

  9. Hi Helen,
    We are having problems with the local birds eating or just pecking holes in our strawberries. We have recently bought some netting to cover them but the netting is very tightly woven and doesn’t let any insects in. Do we need to remove the netting at some times during the day to let the bees and whatever else pollinate the flowers?

    • Hi Deb,

      Strawberry flowers are self-fertile, which means that they can pollinate themselves without requiring bees or any other insects. However, pollination by bees is always good and is likely to result in larger and more numerous berries.

  10. My strawberry plants are in half wine barrels and have lots of flowers but are not setting. What can I do to help them set?

    • Hi Ian,

      The strawberries will get fruit as the weather is consistently warm – which may be a few more weeks – more near the end of November, early December. So, not long to go.

      Regards, Helen

  11. Hi Helen, I’ve got 18 strawberry plants in a vertical pallet and it’s down the side of my house, West facing. I’ve noted that now – early spring- it’s getting about 4 hours direct sunlight a day. With a mirror, I might be able to add another hour or so, and maybe in summer there might be another 30 mins? My question is will this light regime be enough to produce tasty fruit in reasonable quantities? Thanks in advance! Cheers Jason

    • Hi Jason,

      Four hours of sun is a little low – around 6 is better if you can achieve it.

      It’s probably one of those things you need to test out, as you may produce sufficient fruit with what you have.

      Regards, Helen

  12. Hi Helen,
    I am trying to source strawberry plants near Brunswick but don’t seem to have much luck. I’m looking for sweetheart and Albion varieties that are established plants. If you can advise a place it would be great.
    Thanks
    John

    • Hi John,

      I haven’t heard of the sweetheart variety, but Albion is an ‘proprietary’ strawberry and won’t be available for general purchase. Strawberry plants are extremely hard to come by this year.

      We (The Mushroom Shed) will have a limited number available at Coburg Farmers’ Market this Saturday, if you are interested. They are Red Gauntlet variety.

      Regards, Helen

    • Hi I just read your comment. I’ve purchased a variety called Little Sweetie which may be the Sweetheart one you have been looking for(?) I bought mine at Nillumbik Nursery in Wattle Glen. Also try BAAG in Bulleen as the two nurseries are affiliated. Good luck

  13. My strawberry plants produce fruit all year . I’ve had them so long I’ve forgotten what variety they are. Though the winter, the strawberries are large and they ripen half to 3/4 of the way but not fully. Is there something I can do to help them ripen the whole way?

    Thanks

    • Hi Rose,

      Yes, some strawberry plants will fruit all year. However, due to lack of sunlight, the fruit won’t ripen fully in winter. Unfortunately, I don’t know a way to mimic the loss of sunlight – perhaps other readers have found a solution?

      Regards, Helen

  14. Hi Helen.
    We have two pots of strawberry plants and there is something eating the leaves. Can you recommend something to fix this matter?
    Thank you, Deirdre.

    • Hi Deirdre,

      if it’s snails/slugs then you could try snail deterrents. There are some organic snail pellets available at hardware stores – check the label. However note they may not be good to use if you have pets. Or try ringing your plants with a gritty substance like sawdust or coffee grounds, which snails will dislike going through. Cleaning up any places which snails can hide in around your plants can also help.

      If it’s possums, then you’ll need a net over your strawberry plants. Netting can be bought cheaply at hardware stores.

      Hope one of these solutions helps.

      Regards, Helen

      • Hi you mentioned having strawberry plants at Coburg Farmers Market this Sat. Can you tell me how many and how much? Also can they be reserved?

        • Hi Pauline,

          We’ll have 15 plants there at $4.50 each or 3 for $12. I’m happy to reserve some if you let me know what you’d like (Ph: 9435 1686).

  15. I have some strawberries plants that are still flowering. Is this normal and should I remove these flowers?

    • Hi Michelle,

      Assuming you’re in a cold climate area, yes I’d cut the flowers off. They won’t turn into good-eating strawberries in winter, so you may as well let the growing energy go into the plant instead.

      Regards, Helen

  16. Hi Helen,

    I planted some bare root strawberries about 3 weeks ago and still haven’t seen any new growth. I soaked their roots in water for 10 minutes before planting and planted them in fresh soil with slow release fertiliser for fruit and citrus. They receive about 5-6 hours of sun a day and I originally watered them twice a week but have dropped that down to once a week now.

    I’m worried they’ve died but I don’t want to dig them up to check in case they’re just dormant in the cold weather (I live just south of Sydney).

    What do you think? Should I wait longer? Is there anything I can try that may help?

    Thanks,
    Emma

    • Hi Emma,

      The good news is your strawberries are probably fine. They go dormant in winter, and will not start to grow strongly again until Spring. Until then, they will sit there, producing few (if any) leaves, and look similar to when you planted them. Unfortunately that will mean waiting a few more weeks until you see some progress with them.

      Regards, Helen

  17. I purchased strawberries in November and planted them in a very large pot. They only fruited lightly through the summer. It is now the 7th May and they are going gang busters. There doesn’t appear to be any runners as yet. Will all the fruit ripen so late in the year?

    • You may get some fruit ripen, but as strawberry plants are about to go into winter dormancy, probably not a lot.

      It sounds like your plants have grown very strong (runners will come!), so expect a great yield from them in Spring.

  18. Hi there. I live in Northern Vic and have quite a large amount of strawberries. They should probably be renewed or replaced. Hubby has
    suggested trimming them with a whipper snipper. Do you recommend this or should I replace with plants from the runners?

    • Hi Bronwyn,

      In late May, when the weather gets cooler, I would dig them up, trim off the runners and most of the leaves with heavy duty scissors (leave one or two leaves).

      Revitalise the soil in a significant way. Then you can re-plant both the old (trimmed) plants and the runners.

      Unless the plants look diseased – if so, I’d start again with new plants.

      Sounds like this could be quite a job if you have a lot!

  19. Hello Helen
    I’m in Canberra and I have a number of healthy, fruitful strawberries in pots around my garden. I wondered if they would continue to fruit throughout winter if I put them into my warm potting shed. Many thanks in anticipation of your advice.

    • Hi Sharon,
      Strawberries require a winter dormancy to produce well the following Spring, So it’s best to allow them that period over Winter. Whilst I don’t know for sure, I suspect you’d have poor cropping over Winter (if any) even in a warm potting shed, as the strawberry’s natural inclination would be for a ‘rest’.

      Regards, Helen.

  20. Dear Helen,

    Hopefully you’re still there!

    We have been growing strawberries in our suburban drive (we replaced the median grass strip) for four years. It’s been great fun. But the last season was the lowest and least quality yield.

    We’ve pruned the remaining plants though there are still young ones there from runners. What do we do now as I find the various sources of information confusing?

    Do we dig up the bed, plant a green manure crop, and have a go at another site in the garden?

    Or do I add compost, manure etc and try to do something with the existing remnant?

    Or do I dig it up and replant the same drive bed with new plants from a nursery?

    Any suggestions are welcome.

    • Hi Jack,

      Yes, still busy working away!

      I generally recommend replacing strawberry plants about every 5 years, as they can get a bit disease prone and underproductive. Sounds like your time is now … I’d remove them and plant new ones, refreshing the area in a big way with compost and manure as you suggest.

      With the old plants, try giving them a good trim back, plant them somewhere else and see if you can revive them!

      Regards, Helen

  21. Hi Helen,

    I’ve never grown strawberries before but have 3 packs of ‘temptation’ seeds I’d like to try. Can I plant the seeds straight into garden beds outside rather than inside in trays? I’m happy to be patient and wait the year or two until they fruit. I’m west of Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road so it’s currently Autumn Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hi Lila,

      I’ve never grown strawberries from seed either, however start them inside in trays and transplant to successively larger pots sited outside until they grow big enough for the garden. The best time to start seeds is Spring, so you get a long growing period before the strawberries go into their winter dormancy. However, you could also try them now and see how things go. Happy growing! Regards, Helen

      • Hi Helen,

        Thank you for your advice. I planted indoors in trays and have been moving them outside when it’s a warm sunny day, making sure I bring them in each night. I have been keeping them moist with water in a spray bottle. Since February, I have only had about 6 small pots within my seed trays (out of 74!) that have appeared with green seedlings. A few of these now have four leaves but are really tiny (around 1mm per leaf). The other 60 odd pots have nothing. Should I just admit defeat now winter has started? I was really keen to get them into the garden beds, but there’s been next to no germination 🙁

        • Hi Lila,

          Growing strawberries from seed is a challenge. Seedlings can take around 2 months to appear, so you could wait a few more weeks.

          After that, it’s likely to be too cold. If you have some seed left, try again in Spring.

          Regards, Helen

        • Hi, I have also been growing strawberry seeds temptation inside in a plastic green house with a led light on them. Out of the 8 seeds planted, 6 have grown. It has taken 2 months and now the seeds are growing very slowly, I am lucky to get a new tiny leaf a month. When I started putting a led light on them, germination sped up. I hope with Spring on the way they will grow faster so I can plant them in pots.

  22. Hi Helen
    This is my first attempt at growing strawberries in a large wicking bed at my place of work. They have given a decent amount of fruit (10 plants) for small plants but the fruit is small (large pea sized) and some are quite bitter. Can you let me know what they need to become bigger and sweeter? The garden is in Perth, west facing, and gets both full afternoon sun and sea breezes.

    • Hi Audrey,

      The first thing that came to my mind was the variety of strawberry. Do you know what it is? Some wild strawberries are pea sized with variable flavour. Otherwise, if the plants look very lush, possibly the growth is going into the leaves rather than the strawberries – usually too much nitrogen. Other reasons are lack of water (unlikely if the wicking bed is working properly), crowding of plants, lack of pollination, or lack of sun (sounds unlikely).

      I recommend planting a different variety to see if you get a different result. If not, then it’s likely to be one of the other reasons mentioned.

      Regards, Helen

  23. Hi this my first try at growing strawberries in a couple of planter boxes sitting at the front of my garden. They get plenty of sun but I can pick them up and move location when temp gets in the hi 30s plus if that is advisable. Also, I was told to cover them with plastic sheets for protection. Is this correct and, if so, what is the best way to set it up? Thanks.

    • Hi Patrick,

      Yes, it is advisable to move your plants to places with less hot sun, as the plants and strawberries will burn. Try for around 1/2 day of sun, preferably in the morning.

      Re the plastic (black thick plastic), usually this is put on the ground prior to the strawberry plants being planted, to stop weed growth. Holes are then cut in it, and the strawberry plants planted in the holes. However, a layer of mulch around your strawberries will do the same job, and is much more pleasant on the eye and better for the environment.

      There is no need to cover the actual strawberry plants for protection.

      Regards, Helen

  24. Thanks for your article Helen! I’ve got @15 strawberries (ranging from alpine and heirloom to commercial varieties) in good potting mix on my north-facing windowsill (planted from runners @mid Aug, as too cold outside; am in western districts, 30km west of Geelong). Is it too late to plant them in my veggie patch? What’s the best non-toxic powdery mildew management (have just discovered some white fluff under some leaves and on a few fruit)? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Eliza,
      Plant your strawberries out now, as this is the time for them to start growing. The best treatment for mildew is fresh air and breeze – and not letting water sit on the plants for too long. You can confidently clip off any leaves with the mildew on, and the new leaves should grow without it. Regards, Helen

  25. Hi Helen, I am in The Channel, below Hobart Tasmania but on waterfront. I have a raised strawberry bed in a relatively warm, sheltered, north facing spot with strawberry plants from last year with still healthy green leaves (I removed any yellowing ones) and some tiny fruit on most plants, that have gone into dormancy, not advancing but not dying back either. I started to cut them off but thought maybe they might just be sitting until weather warms and produce early fruit. This is first I have seen this and think you might be right about new variety. Should I cut these off or let them stay on? Also if leaves look new green and healthy should I not cut them back in winter?

    • Hi Liz,
      I’d recommend cutting the fruit off to conserve the plant’s energy through dormancy period, but keep the green leaves – no great harm in doing this. Good luck with the Spring production! Regards, Helen

  26. We live near Warragul – can I start to cut back my strawberry plants now?

    • Hi, Julie. Yes, but I’d wait a little longer – until the depths of winter, when dormancy is more likely. Regards, Helen.

  27. Hi Helen,

    I am located at bayside of Melbourne. I have planted my strawberries in rectangular pots two years ago. And I have enjoyed abundance of strawberries this year. How and when should I thin out each plant?

    I would appreciate your advice. Thank you. Kind regards, Juliana.

    • Hi Juliana.

      Your plants will go into a dormancy stage in a few weeks when the weather gets very cold (i.e. leaves will die off and the plants will cease growing). Once this happens, I’d recommend digging up the plants and refreshing the soil. Then divide the plants – cut off any ‘runners’ (i.e. small plants that have radiated out from the main plant). The runners can then be established as new plants and the ‘old’ plants can be trimmed of their old leaves and re-planted. Don’t be concerned about keeping soil on the roots as you do this. It will be a while before your plants start growing strongly again once re-planted – this will happen once the weather warms up again.

      Regards, Helen.

  28. Hello, Helen, and thank you for your informative site! My husband has just covered my strawberry plants with 10cm of compost, will they shoot through that in the spring or do I need a thinner layer of compost?

    • Hi, Naomi. The ‘head’ of the strawberry plant will need to sit on top of the soil or mulch. So, make sure it’s exposed. Regards, Helen.

  29. Hi, I live near Ballarat and we experience frosts and cold winters. I have some runners that I would like to plant now in April. Should I plant them straight into my garden beds or first into pots? If into the garden beds, how should I protect them from frost? Thanks

    • Hi Rebecca, you can plant them straight into garden beds. The good news is they unaffected by frost. Over winter, they will grow very little (if at all) and their leaves may go brown as they go into a winter dormancy. Their leaves will then grow again in Spring. Regards, Helen.

  30. Hi Helen,

    I am situated on a farm in north eastern victoria. I have built six raised garden beds approx 10×3 feet and 3 feet high. I have about 50 strawberry plants in one bed and they have produced plenty of fruit and they have also produced plenty of runners which I am separating and re-planting for next season. Most I will give to my local community and friends. Is it wrong to re-plant in the same bed or where I grew tomatoes last year even though I refurbish these beds with mushroom and sugarcane compost each year (plus chicken /cow/sheep manure)? I would appreciate your thoughts and advice.

    Many thanks.

    Adrian

    • Hi Adrian,
      They should be fine in your replenished beds where you grew the strawberries last, however I’d steer away from the old tomato beds, in case any tomato virus is transferred. Helen

      • Hi Helen,
        So good to read an Australian article on growing strawberries!
        My plant is in a pot and gave me delicious fruit over Summer and into Autumn.
        Now I’m seeing signs of dormancy in slow growth and browning of the leaves I’d like to know a Winter watering schedule so I don’t drown or starve her. Also when to fertilise in dormant months?
        Regards
        D

        • Hi D,

          No need to fertilise until they start growing again in Spring. Continue to water to keep moist – although depending on where you have your strawberries, the rain might do this task for you.

          Regards, Helen

  31. Hi Helen.

    I have my strawberries in one of the fruit boxes and this is their second year. Over the winter they had so many runners which I left so that the box is now just a mass of plants. Last year there were many strawberries but this year it is mostly leaves. Should I thin the box out do you think? I am wondering if not enough sunlight is getting to them.

    • Hi Jenny, I’m assuming you have no flowers either, which are an indication strawberries are coming. Yes, I’d thin them out, so sunlight can get in. Also feed them with a liquid fertiliser. The good news is there is still plenty of time to get strawberries from them. Regards, Helen

  32. Hi, I live at the base of the Dandenongs and my strawberries are still fruiting, and have lots of flowers. Is this normal for this time of year? Regards, Gina

    • Hi Regina,
      Normally, no, it’s not usual for this to happen as the strawberries go dormant in winter. However, with the newer varieties of strawberries, some have a greatly extended fruiting season – you may have one of these types. Regards, Helen

  33. Hi,
    I have about 30 plants in pots … some old and some runners that have rooted. I’m in Melbourne. What is the best way to overwinter the strawberry plants in pots? Thanks

    • Hi Rima,
      Strawberries become dormant in winter. I’d shake them out of the pots, trim off the dead leaves, separate the runners off and re-plant in new potting mix in your pots. This can be done any time from now, over the winter months. They will need to be done before they start getting their new growth in Spring. Regards, Helen

  34. When is the best time to germinate strawberry seeds in Dromana, South Eastern Victoria.

  35. Hi…
    How to take care of them in winter?

    • Hi Fathi, in winter, strawberry plants go into dormancy and may lose most of their leaves. You can separate the runners off at this time to grow new plants from them if you like. The original plant can be left in place; however, if you want to move it to another spot, or enrich the soil, winter dormancy is a good time to do this. Come Spring, new leaves will appear. Regards, Helen

      • Hi Helen, I’m in the north part of the Mornington Peninsula and it’s the end of June and none of my strawberries are even remotely dormant – some are flowering (alas not really fruiting) and some aren’t but none of them have lost any leaves. Anyhow … I’d like to improve the soil they’re in. Can I apply aged horse manure or will that result in too much green growth? I was planning on adding pine needles over the top as well.

        • Hi Kassey,
          It may be that your climate is not cold enough for total dormancy with your strawberries – particularly if you don’t get frosts – and/or you have an everbearing variety. Assuming it’s your coldest time around now then, yes, I’d enrich the soil they are in now – cow or chicken manure is better than horse manure, which can tend to carry grass seeds through. My internet research indicates pine needles are great mulch – so go ahead with this too. Regards, Helen

  36. If you wish to dig up an existing plant crop & re-plant in a new area (having very few runners due to mulching), can the original plants be freshened up by trimming & splitting & then be re-used? The original patch is now 3 years old. Fine, deep seated, matted weed roots are a constant problem since the time of the original planting.

    • Hi Steven,

      Yes, if your plants are looking healthy then they can be trimmed, split, moved and re-planted. The best time to do this is winter, during their dormant period. If they look unhealthy or diseased, I’d start with a fresh lot. Regards, Helen.

  37. I have been told to remove runners from plants to encourage more fruit. Is this correct?

    • Hi, Anne. If you remove the runners, your initial plant will grow stronger and should produce more fruit. However, if you allow the runners to grow, you will get more plants and hence more fruit from the multiplied plants in coming years. Of course, you could do a bit of both. Regards, Helen

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