For those gardeners with little space but a hankering for homegrown strawberries, a strawberry pot is the perfect solution. If you're unsure about what a strawberry pot is, they are those urn-shaped pots with a series of small pockets running along the sides. They are generally terracotta, though I've seen them made of glazed pottery as well. You can also find them in a variety of sizes, from very small four-pocket varieties to pots that stand nearly two feet tall and have a plethora of pockets. They can be a bit pricey, but you can often find them on sale in home and garden centers in spring and even on end of season clearance in the fall. Choose a size that matches up with the number of berries you'd like to grow. Keep in mind that a smaller pot will need to be watered much more often than a large one.
There are three types of strawberry plants: June-bearing, ever-bearing, and day-neutral. For a strawberry pot, the best types are the ever-bearing and day-neutral varieties. They will provide you with a regular harvest from late spring until early fall. You'll get higher overall yields from day-neutral varieties.
Planting a strawberry pot is a fairly simple process.
- Get the pot adequately moist. Terracotta pots will wick all of the water out of your soil unless you moisten them before planting. To do this, simply lay your pot in a tub of water for about an hour. It will soak up water so it won't suck it out of the soil later.
- Place a piece of window screening or broken flower pot over the drainage hole so the soil doesn't leak out.
- Fill with soil until you reach the lowest level of pockets. Insert your strawberry plants in these pockets, filling around them with soil. Make sure the crown of the plants is just above soil level.
- Insert either a one-inch PVC pipe drilled with holes along its length or a cardboard tube from wrapping paper near the center of the pot, but not directly over the drainage hole. You will be using this as a watering pipe to ensure that all of the pockets get adequate moisture.
- Continue filling to each level of pockets and inserting plants.
- Stop adding soil when you get to two inches below the rim of the pot. You can add three to four plants in the top of the container, and fill in with soil around them.
- Water everything in well. Pour water down the tube, on the soil at the top of the pot, and into each pocket (do this slowly so the water doesn't make the soil slosh out.)
- Place your pot in a spot that gets at least six hours of sun per day.
The type of soil you choose for your strawberry pot should be one that is high in organic matter. Any good, organic potting soil will work. Adding compost, peat, or leaf mold to the mix will make your plants even happier. Also, it's a good idea to mix some blood meal and bone meal into your mix before you plant. These will feed the plant and help them get off to a good start.
Basically, you'll be keeping your plants watered and fed for the remainder of the growing season. Test for moisture by sticking your finger into the potting soil up to your first knuckle. If it is dry, you'll need to water. Strawberries are shallow-rooted plants, and start to slow in fruit production if they are allowed to dry out. Fertilize your plants every other week with a diluted seaweed fertilizer to keep your plants producing. Harvest berries as soon as they are ripe, and remove any rotted fruit or yellowing leaves as you see them.
Overwintering Potted Strawberries
Strawberries are perennials, and will produce happily for years. If you want to overwinter them in the pot, you'll need to place the entire pot in a sheltered location such as an unheated garage. If you have some ground available to overwinter in, you can dig the plants out of the pot, place them in plastic pots, and bury these pots into the ground with their rims at soil level. Your plants will overwinter beautifully and you can revive them by potting them up with plenty of rich, fresh soil in the spring.
Growing strawberries in a pot is simple and rewarding, and you can do it even if you don't have any yard to speak of.