Strawberry pots can be challenging
The best way to plant a strawberry pot is to take precautions against erosion, drying out, and choosing the best compost. Full video at the end
When you plant a terracotta strawberry pot you do it with high hopes. Visions of juicy berries spilling from each opening and delighting friends, family, and yourself with homegrown edibles grown in a small space. The trouble is that strawberry pots will often fail you. Compost falls out the sides, the plants look sad, and the berries that do form can be small and dry.
There are three main challenges to overcome when you plant a strawberry pot: compost, water, and erosion. Each of these needs to be addressed if you want to see a decent harvest from your plants. Both the video and tips below will help you to plant your pot up the best way possible.
The Low-down on planting a strawberry pot
The basic principles of planting a strawberry pot begin with thinking about what the plants need. They need sunlight, temperate warmth, water, nutrients, soil/compost, and pollination. If just one of these is lacking then your plants will suffer.
- Plant strawberry pots between March and April
- Place them in an area that gets sunshine for 6-10 hours a day
- Rotate the pots regularly if there are plants suffering for sun light
- Situate the pot in an area where bees can get to the flowers
- Use compost that’s rich and will retain water
- Plant the plants in a way that reduces erosion from the sides
- Use a mulch on the top to help keep moisture inside
- Water daily — even if it’s raining
Although you can find plastic strawberry pots, terracotta are more traditional. One thing that you must be aware of when using terracotta clay pots is that they’re porous and have the ability to wick water. This means that water inside the pot and rain and moisture from outside can move back and forth. That’s why terracotta pots make excellent Ollas.
If there’s moisture inside and the pot is bone dry then the clay will suck the moisture out. For that reason it’s best to soak the pot in water just before you plant it. This is an optional step but one that will help your newly planted strawberries, especially if you live in dry and warm climate.
Preventing erosion from the bottom
A lot of advice for filling up pots begins with filling the bottom with gravel or pot shards. However a recent study says that that adding material to pots to help with drainage is a myth. However, placing a handful of broken pot shards at the bottom of a pot helps keep the compost inside. It helps stop erosion from the bottom.
Strawberries thrive in pots and are happy even if their roots grow into one another’s space. That means that pretty much any strawberry plant can be potted up in a container, be it a small strawberry pot or a larger Strawberry Pallet Planter.
Even so, I think that smaller plants do better in small pots. That’s why I chose the pretty pink petaled ‘Just Add Cream’ strawberry for mine. It doesn’t seem to grow as large as other varieties and has proved itself great for growing in containers. I’d also choose Alpine Strawberries to plant up a small strawberry pot.
Preventing erosion from the pot openings
The basic design of a strawberry pot has an opening at the top and several openings at the sides. That’s why thinking about erosion when planting a strawberry pot is a very good idea. Even the pots that have lips can still have problems with compost falling out.
What I do is cut a piece of landscaping fabric into a square with a slit on the top. Folded around the plant, it keeps the growing parts tucked into the compost, stops the compost falling out, and can also help retain moisture.
Plant a Strawberry Pot
When you plant a strawberry pot, you work from the bottom up. Place the shards at the bottom so that they lightly cover the hole at the bottom. Next fill the pot up to the first set of holes with compost (I prefer using composted Farmyard Manure). Push down on it lightly as you go.
When you get to the first set of holes, place the strawberry plants through from the inside. Make sure to spread the material out so that it doesn’t restrict the plant’s roots. Now fill the pot up to the next set of holes, pressing the compost down again as you go. There’s a lot of air in light, fluffy compost and if you don’t press it down, the compost will settle naturally with watering. Your pot will seem emptier if you don’t lightly compact it while planting.
Planting the top
There’s usually space for one or two strawberry plants at the top of a strawberry pot. After tucking them in, spread a layer of fine gravel or horticultural grit on the top. It will help lock moisture in and will also stop the compost from running all over the place while watering.
Even if it’s raining, you should give your strawberry pot a drink once a day. For that reason, I like to keep my pot in a place that I’m going to notice and remember to water it. It will help you too to think about this once your pot is planted up.
Strawberry plants need a lot of warm sunshine to grow and produce berries. If you’re afraid that a plant on the back-side isn’t going to get enough, consider rotating the pot regularly. Better yet, plant that cavity with something that wont mind indirect light — a lot of greens and lettuces could do well there.