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 own garden.

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 actually relatively easy to successfully grow.

Bare Root Strawberries
Bare Root Strawberries

What Are Bare Root Strawberries?

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 plants are dormant, they can cope well with being uprooted and transported. Bare root plants may arrive with a rather shriveled and wilted appearance but rest assured, when re-planted they will resume growing and thrive into healthy plants!

Why Choose Bare Root Strawberries?

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 require much less packaging to transport than potted alternatives and don’t come in plastic posts, making them a more eco-friendly option.

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 variety (white strawberries anyone?), you’ll be more likely to find your preferred cultivar if you’re open to the idea of bare roots.

Freshly Grown Strawberries

How to Store Before Planting

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 the roots damp but not soaked and you’ll maintain a healthy plant ready to be introduced to your garden.

How to Plant

For best results, bare root strawberries should be planted in 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 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 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.

Where to Plant

Strawberry plants love sunshine and produce most fruit when planted in a sheltered spot in a bright sunny area of the garden.

One of the best things about strawberry plants (aside from their tasty fruit) is that they are quite versatile in where they can be planted. Strawberries will do well in the ground or in 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 added bonus of letting you move your strawberry plant around from time to time, allowing it to soak up optimum levels of sunlight.

How to Care for Strawberries

Generally, established strawberry plants don’t require a huge amount of care and maintenance. Water when the soil dries out, particularly in hot weather, but avoid watering the fruit itself, especially when ripe. Using a high-quality feed from early spring can be beneficial and encourage fruit.

As we mentioned earlier, humans aren’t the only species to find 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.

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 tender juicy strawberry yields for your family to enjoy in years to come.

Strawberry Elsanta Bare Root Plants

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