How to Care for Strawberry Plants
The sweet taste of strawberries makes growing strawberry plants very alluring. Eaten fresh off the plant or turned into baked goods and jams, the strawberry fruit has many uses. There are two main types of strawberry plants, June bearing and day- neutral. A June bearing strawberry plant grows larger and has more fruit than a day-neutral. Day-neutral will produce small sweeter berries for the duration of the growing season. For home and commercial growers, June bearing strawberry plants have been found to be popular to produce large quantities of fruit.
Grow strawberries in full sun. The roots prefer well drained soil that is full of nutrition. To avoid verticillum wilt, don’t plant strawberries in any soil that once grew host plants for the disease (potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. ) A soil born fungus that attacks strawberry plants, verticillum wilt will kill the plants and has no known treatment once it is introduced into the soil.
Strawberries need a well balanced fertilizer that has equal portions of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (N-P-K.) Nitrogen encourages plant growth to produce healthy foliage. Phosphorous is essential for flower and fruit production. Potassium helps plants overall with increased root growth and photosynthesis functions. A fertilizer ratio of 10-10-10 is sufficient for strawberry plants. Apply one pound per 100 square feet every season after harvesting.
Strawberry plants have a short life expectancy as a perennial. They usually stay productive for about 3 years. For June bearing strawberries, the length that the plant will live can be extended by a process called renovating. After harvesting a June bearing strawberry plant, it is time to prepare the plants for next season. Remove the old foliage and runners by mowing it down. Don’t disturb the crown of the plants, keep the leaves at least 1 inch above the crowns. Space and thin the strawberry plants so there are 6 inches between each plant. Fertilize and water the remaining plants. Continue to water with one watering season each week. One inch of water per week will help the plants regrow with new healthy foliage.
The strawberry crowns will benefit from being protected from freezing temperatures. In areas where the temperature drops below 20 degrees F, use mulch to cover the plants, 3-4 inches deep. Push back the mulch from the crown of the plant in the spring. Leave the mulch near the leaves to protect against frost. When all danger of frost is gone, make sure the leaves and plant are free from the mulch.
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