How to grow Pineberries – White Strawberries with a citrus kick
Pineberries are smaller and more tangy than red strawberries.
This is the third year I’ve grown white strawberries, made famous in Britain as the ‘Pineberries’ sold at Marks & Spencer in 2014. When they were first introduced to the market you couldn’t beg, borrow, or steal plants and everyone wanted to try them out.
Pineberries, Fragaria x ananassa, are special in that they grow much in the way that ordinary red strawberries do except they produce small white berries instead of red. The also have a bit of a citrusy flavour and so live up to their reputation of tasting a bit like pineapple.
Getting Pineberry Plants
If you’re convinced to try growing them you’ll need to begin with bare-root plants or even better, plants created from runners. I got mine from a friend since pineberries, like strawberry plants, freely throw out runners and establish baby plants in the soil all around them. These baby plants are essentially clones of the parent plant.
If you don’t know anyone who has them to give you, put an ad up in a Facebook gardening group offering a swap or if you’d like to just purchase them online you can do so here.
A note on any Pineberry seeds you see for sale – DO NOT buy them. Pineberries cannot be grown true from their seeds because they’re a hybrid. Much in the same way that a mule is a hybrid between a horse and a donkey. If you try to grow seeds from pineberries you may first of all have issues with them germinating and then if they do, you’ll be disappointed to know that Pineberry seeds do not grow true to the parents.
Pineberries grow well in both the garden and in pots
I’ve successfully grown both strawberries and pineberries in this DIY Strawberry Pallet Planter and in the garden. Here are some tips for growing them:
- Plant them into rich soil that’s been supplemented with garden compost and/or composted manure
- Plant no deeper than the top of the crown – that’s where the green bits start.
- Keep well watered
- Mulch with straw or egg crates when the berries begin to form
- Take precautions against slugs
- Net the plants when the berries are forming to protect against birds and other animals
- Feed the plants with a top dressing of composted manure every winter.
- Plants should be most productive their first three years. Afterwards, replace them with new ones.
A few more tips and useful information
You might have heard that one of the benefits of growing these white skinned berries is that animals don’t think that they’re ripe and won’t eat them. This is only partially true since slugs are a big problem (slugs got to the berries in the image above). Keeping the plants mulched and removing any rotten berries helps to minimize this, as do slug precautions be they beer traps, organic slug pellets, or picking them off manually.
- Pineberries are ripe when the skin changes from green-white to a slightly creamy white
- If left on the plant, the skin will mature into a light pink blush
- Pineberries look best in food when used with another more colourful berry – like red strawberries
- Berries may not appear on the plant in the first year.
- Birds may peck at the fruit so take precautions against them by netting your plants. Better safe than sorry!
- Enviromesh will also keep many insects off your plants but don’t put it on until you’re sure the flowers are pollinated.
For more unique crop ideas check out 15 Unusual fruits & vegetables for the home garden