Ripe strawberries collected by a gardener.

A Guide To Growing Your Own Strawberries

A Guide To Growing Your Own Strawberries

Few fruits can compare to the sweet, juicy taste of homegrown strawberries, so imagine stepping out onto your balcony or into your kitchen and plucking fresh strawberries directly from pots bursting with vibrant green foliage.

The joy of growing your own strawberries means you can enjoy these sweet, sun-kissed gems right at your fingertips, no matter how limited your space may be. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a newbie with a green thumb dream, this guide is your key to creating your own mini strawberry patch in the most convenient and space-efficient way possible.

Ripe and unripened strawberries.

Planting Strawberries in Pots

Choose the right container:

  • There are no restrictions on what the strawberry pot can be made from. However, it must have adequate drainage to prevent waterlogged soil. This can lead to root rot and other problems.

  • Consider the size of the pot in relation to the quantity of plants you are putting into it. Strawberries require space for their roots to grow and spread. Regardless of the width, the pot should be at least 20-30 cm deep with drainage holes at the bottom.

 Select the perfect strawberry variety:

  • Like with most fruiting plants, strawberries are formed from flowering stems. Keep in mind, that some varieties of strawberries may flower but not fruit in the first year depending on the conditions.

  • There are numerous strawberry varieties available, each with its unique flavour and growing requirements. Popular choices for pot plant gardening include everbearing and day-neutral varieties, such as 'Alpine', 'Albion,' 'Tristar,' 'Alinta' or 'Melba.' These varieties produce fruit throughout the growing season.

 High-quality potting mix:

  • Use a well-draining, high-quality potting mix rich in organic matter. Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil, so a pH level of around 6.0 to 6.5 is ideal.

  • When shopping for potting soil for strawberries, look for products labelled as "Strawberry Potting Mix" or "Berry Mix." These mixes typically include components like peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and well-rotted compost, all of which contribute to a well-draining, fertile growing medium for strawberries.

 Planting depth:

  • When planting strawberries, make sure to bury them at the same depth they were in their original pots or nursery containers. Do not cover the crown (the short, thickened stem at the base of the plant), as this can reduce sunlight absorption and increase bacterial growth.

  • Space each plant about 30cm apart to provide ample room for growth. Planting them too close together can lead to overcrowding which stunts growth and prevents proper air circulation.


  • Strawberries are sun-loving plants. Place your pots in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily with partial shade. If you don't have access to full sun, consider using a grow light to supplement the natural light especially when grown indoors.

  • Strawberries require large quantities of sunlight for photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy (sugars) and oxygen. This energy is used for growth, flower production, and overall plant health. Resulting in sweeter-tasting, larger and more abundant fruit.
Strawberries overhand the side of a pot.

 Temperature and humidity:

  • The ideal temperature range for fruit production is around 15°C to 27°C. High temperatures above 29°C can stress strawberry plants. However, a winter chill period of around 7°C is also necessary for dormancy and future fruiting.

  • Consider using a humidifier to combat indoor dryness. Strawberry plants prefer moderate humidity levels. Ideally, relative humidity should be around 60%. Increased humidity can be assisted with the application of mulch.


  • Strawberries require consistent moisture, so water them regularly. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Regularly check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger a couple of centimetres into the soil. If it feels dry at that depth, it's time to water. Adjust your watering schedule based on weather conditions.

  • Water at the base of your strawberry plant rather than overhead to prevent wetting the foliage, which can lead to leaf and fruit diseases. Ensure that the moisture penetrates at least 5cm into the soil to encourage deep root growth.

  • Watering in the morning allows the plants to dry before evening, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Avoid late evening or night-time watering.


  • Feed your strawberry plants every 2-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble pellet or liquid fertiliser. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can promote leafy growth at the expense of fruit production.

  • Using a pellet fertiliser, mix the pellets into the top few inches of potting soil and avoid contact with the foliage and fruit. Thoroughly water the soil to ensure the nutrients reach the roots.

  • Liquid fertiliser can be incorporated into your watering routine.

  • After the main fruiting season (typically late spring to early summer), you can apply a second round of fertiliser to support any additional fruit production and the development of runners.


  • Apply a layer of mulch around the crown of your strawberry plants along with any spots of bare soil. The best mulch for strawberries is pine or wheat straw, sugar cane, or wood chips.

  • Mulch acts as a barrier on the soil's surface, reducing water evaporation. This helps retain soil moisture, especially during hot and dry periods. In addition, mulch also suppresses weed growth that can compete for nutrients.

  • Outdoor plants are often exposed to varying temperature fluctuations that can lead to plant stress and decreased growth. Mulch also assists with regulating the soil’s temperature through insulation.
  • Mulch gives the strawberry plants a charming, farm aesthetic.


  • Remove any runners (long stems that grow out from the plant) to encourage the plant's energy to go into fruit production rather than stem and foliage growth.

  • Pruning also helps thin out overgrown plants, allowing each one to receive more sunlight, nutrients, and air circulation.


  • Wait until the strawberries are fully ripe before harvesting. Ripe strawberries will have a deep, red colour all over, and they should be firm and plump. Generally, strawberries are ready to pick when they can easily be detached from the stem.

  • It's best to harvest strawberries in the morning when temperatures are cooler. This helps maintain the fruit's quality and flavour.

  • To pick strawberries, gently twist the ripe berry at the stem until it detaches from the plant.

  • Alternatively, you can use scissors or small shears to snip the stem about 1.3 cm above the berry to avoid damaging the fruit.

  • Try to avoid pulling on the fruit, as this can damage both the berry and the plant, and handle strawberries with care as they can bruise easily.

  • Do not leave ripe strawberries on the stems for an extended period. Ripe strawberries are more susceptible to diseases and rot when left on the plant, especially if they come into contact with damp soil or foliage.

  • They can also cause other berries on the plant to turn mushy and be less flavourful.
A gardener gentle picks ripe strawberries.

Problems and Solutions

Pinch off flowers in the first year:

  • To allow your strawberry plants to establish strong root systems, some sources recommend pinching off any flowers that appear during the first year.

  • This redirects the plant's energy towards growth rather than fruit production, promoting more abundant flowering the next season.

Protect from pests:

  • Keep an eye out for common strawberry pests such as aphids, spider mites, slugs, snails, and birds. If your strawberries are outdoors, use netting or scare tactics like reflective tape or decoy predators to deter birds and other wildlife from stealing your hard-earned fruit.

  • Ladybugs are particularly attracted to strawberry flowers and will help pollinate and even eradicate unwanted pests.

 Monitor for diseases:

  • Look out for Grey Mould, Anthracnose and other fruit rots. 

  • These can cause the leaves and berries to rot. Ensure good air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and harvest ripe fruit promptly. Remove infected leaves and apply fungicides as needed.

Renew every few years:

  • Strawberry plants can become less productive after a few years. To maintain a healthy and fruitful strawberry patch, consider replacing your plants every 2-3 years.

  • Use new potting soil to avoid accidentally transferring any unseen diseases or pests to your new plant.

Indoor-grown strawberry plants may need hand-pollination:

  • Since they lack outdoor pollinators like insects and bees, gently shake the plants during flowering to transfer pollen between flowers.

  • Alternatively, you can temporarily move your strawberry plants outdoors while they flower.

    Storing ripe strawberries:

    • Once harvested, leave the green cap (calyx) on the strawberry until you are ready to eat or use it. Removing the cap prematurely can cause the fruit to lose moisture and flavour more quickly.

    • You should consume fresh strawberries within a few days of picking. However, dehydrating, freezing and canning the berries to make jam, syrups and other delicious products will extend the shelf-life.

    Cultivating your very own strawberries is extremely gratifying. However, from variety selection to diligent care and pest management, it's a journey that does demand patience. Whether you're a novice or an expert, unlike other plants, strawberry growing at least ensures you have a sweet, delicious-tasting reward at the end of all your hard work. Why not try growing your very own strawberries this growing season and impress your friends and family with 100% homegrown and made strawberry jams and preserves?