A Guide to Bare Root Strawberries
Sometimes life is all about simple pleasures and there are few more enjoyable than sitting down to a bowl of luscious strawberries freshly picked from your garden. Read our guide on how to plant and care for bare root strawberry plants, we’ve also included some of our secret tips!
If you’re new to growing strawberries or are looking for a new plant to add to your strawberry bed, you’re likely to have come across the term ‘bare root strawberries’. At first glance, these may seem a little intimidating, however, bare root strawberries shouldn’t be at all scary and are relatively easy to successfully grow.
What Are Bare Root Strawberry Plants?
As the name would suggest, bare root strawberry plants arrive with the roots exposed. The plant has been grown as normal before being removed from the earth during autumn and winter while dormant. As the entire plant is dormant, it can cope well with being uprooted and transported. Bare root plants may arrive with a rather shrivelled and wilted appearance but rest assured, when re-planted they will resume growing and thrive into healthy plants!
You can find bare root plants and hedges, they are becoming more popular and allow you to plant out of the traditional season. There are a few things to note before you plant bare root strawberries, read on to find out.
Why Choose Bare Root Plants?
Firstly, bare root strawberries are kinder to both your pocket and the environment. They tend to be available at cheaper prices than potted strawberry plants so you can get a greater yield of fruit for your money. On top of that, bare root strawberry plants can be planted earlier in the season, well before mid spring, the most common growth season.
Secondly, buying bare root gives you more choice on the cultivar of strawberries you choose to plant. You’ll tend to find there are more varieties of strawberries available as bare root plants than supplied in pots. Whether you’re looking for the ever-popular Cambridge Favourite or prefer something more unusual in the form of the Snow White strawberry variety, you’ll be more likely to find your preferred cultivar if you’re open to the idea of bare roots.
Thirdly, they are very beginner friendly. Bare root strawberry plants produce very sweet berries, something many new gardeners struggle with. They are resilent to sudden drips in weather and with their roots already established, many find more success than with potted strawberries.
Storing Bare Root strawberries
Ideally, bare root strawberries should be planted as soon as you receive them. However, we all know that in real life this isn’t always possible so don’t panic if you need to wait for the ground to be ready. The plants will remain dormant until replanted in the soil. Store the dormant plants in a cool place and wrap the roots in some damp paper, misting regularly to ensure they don’t dry out. Dried out roots will result in a dead plant but so will rotten roots as a result of too much moisture. Keep all the roots moist but not soaked and you’ll maintain a healthy plant ready to be introduced to your garden.
Planting bare root strawberries
For best results, bare root strawberries should be planted in early spring but hold off until the threat of frost is over. The hole should be deep enough to accommodate the roots and approximately twice as wide to afford them plenty of room. If necessary you can prune the roots up to around a third of the way to fit the space. Adding a layer of garden compost to the bottom of the hole before planting your new strawberries will help them off to a great start.
While you prepare the soil, soak the carefully untangled plant roots in warm, but not hot, water for around 30-60 minutes. Make sure you only soak the roots as soaking the crown (the part of the plant right above the roots) may result in the plant rotting.
When you’re ready delicately spread the roots into the hole and cover it with soil. Be sure to check that the bottom of the crown is right at soil level and not buried underneath and that no roots can be seen above ground. Finally, give the plant good watering to stimulate growth.
Planting bare root strawberries in beds
Planting bare root strawberries in a raised bed allows for the plants to grow without becoming pot-bound. There are a few differences to note though. Firstly, ensure that you remove any weeds as your strawberry plants won’t flourish as much if they are around. Secondly, after a few years separate the strawberries as runner plants can quickly take over a space.
Planting bare root strawberries in pots
If you are planting your bare root strawberries in pots, ensure that the pot has enough room to not only accommodate the current roots, but allow them to grow over the summer. A 3-litre pot is a great introductory size and will allow your strawberry plants to thrive throughout the year.
Pot grown strawberry plants take more watering than in raised beds, ensure that you maintain soil moisture by watering daily in the morning or early evening after the sun has gone down.
Where to Plant
Strawberry plants love sunshine and produce the most fruit when planted in a sheltered spot in a bright sunny area of the garden. Placing your new plants in a spot with full sun will help produce high-quality fresh strawberries.
One of the best things about strawberry plants (aside from their juicy berries) is that they are quite versatile in where they can be planted. Strawberries will do well in the ground, containers, pots, and even hanging baskets. You may wish to use a grow bag to offer your new plant some protection from the cold and wind as well as from pests such as snails and slugs, who also consider strawberries a tasty treat.
Grow bags, containers and hanging baskets have the bonus of letting you move your strawberry plant around from time to time, allowing it to soak up optimum levels of sunlight. To plant strawberries in grow bags, fill them with potting soil and ensure that they are watered regularly.
How to Care for Strawberries
Generally, growing strawberries doesn’t require a huge amount of care and maintenance. Keep the soil moist, particularly in hot weather of mid-summer, but avoid watering the fruit itself, especially when ripe. Ideally, you want to water your strawberry patch once a day in the morning or evening while the sun is low. Using a high-quality feed from early spring can be beneficial and encourage your strawberry plant to grow more fruit.
As we mentioned earlier, humans aren’t the only species to find fresh strawberries appealing so you may wish to protect your fruit from birds and other creatures using a net. These nets have holes big enough to allow bees and other pollinating insects in but will keep birds and small mammals out without harming them. This will let you enjoy your strawberry plants, and keep them safe for another year.
It’s common to feel a bit daunted by the appearance of bare root strawberries when they arrive but don’t be disheartened. They are supposed to look that way and, despite their dormant appearance, once planted they will begin to thrive and go on to produce enough strawberries for your family to enjoy in years to come.
Tips & Tricks for Bare Root Strawberries
Growing bare root strawberries is relatively easy, but here are our best tips on making sure you get a large harvest!
Bare Root Runners
Strawberry plants commonly get runners shooting off the mother plant. You’ll notice these long roots that grow a small cluster of leaves, to make them into new plants gently place them into a small pot and allow the roots to form. Once the new roots of the plant are strong, you can cut the stem joining it to the parent plant.
When to plant bare root strawberries
The best time for planting bare root strawberries is early spring, ideally mid February. However, thanks to our large selection of plants, you can now enjoy strawberries year-round. If you own a greenhouse, planting bare root strawberries in early summer will extend the growing season by a few months.
Make sure that the plants you pick will grow out of season, avoid june bearing strawberries if you want to grow later in the year. Instead, look for ever bearing strawberries that will give you a harvest until late autumn.
Where to buy strawberry plants
Once you know what variety of bare root strawberry plants you want, next is deciding where to buy. Luckily at Gardeners Dream we sell hardy strawberry plants that will withstand the British weather. Our best-selling Cambridge Favourite is well known as one of the sweetest strawberry plants you can get, while our Sweetheart Strawerry is becoming well-known for its juicy berries.
Whether you grow your new plants in a strawberry bed or hanging baskets, make sure to water them regularly and feed them weekly. We hope this guide helps you to grow strawberries successfully, and to try your hand at growing more bare root berries.