More than a year ago, I decided I want to plant strawberries. Buying them was not a problem, there are a lot of strawberry plants available in garden stores or even groceries and supermarkets in our area specially on the start of spring. So I got a tray with six plants. We didn’t also have a garden lot in our old apartment so I planted them in 2 pots, 3 plants each. They are June-bearing variety so they produced only from summer to fall. Being a newbie to strawberry planting, I was a bit disappointed as they bore not so many fruits but gave out a lot of runners the first time! I thought they would die out during the cold winter so I just left them on their pots on their location. I was surprised though to see the next spring that the they survived, being snowed in a pot and all! Learning a bit more about growing strawberries, I was able to get more fruits last year and from the original 6 plants we now have at least 4 dozens of them.
Soil and Planting
They thrive best on soil that drains well. As much as possible use new soil and not recycled or used before for other plants to avoid fungal infection. After buying your new strawberry plants or replanting old ones, loosen up the roots before you plant them. Do not worry about having to be extra careful, they are more hardy than you think. They are shallow rooted and need surface space more than depth. Plant them about 5-6 inches apart and along the edge of the container or basket so that the fruits can hang outside as they can get blemished and rot when in contact with the wet soil.
When planting strawberry plants, make sure that you do not bury the crown or it would rot. It should be that the roots are covered but the crown is just above the soil. Plant strawberries on early spring. But in my experience you can plant them anytime but place the new plants under a shade until they have formed stronger root system.
Water and Sunlight
Strawberry plants like a lot of sunlight. So place them where they can get at least 6-8 hours of direct sun. Water regularly and if possible in the morning, in my case I needed to water them daily specially at summer. Being in containers, they are more prone to drying out than the ones planted on a garden bed, and they do not like that, or else they will give you small, dry fruits! But they do not like to sit in water as well so proper drainage is important. Usually I water until the excess runs through the drainage. Mulching also helps to keep the soil moist.
Fertilizer and Protection
Fertilize strawberry with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) diluted in water during the growth period every two weeks. Then switch to a high potash liquid fertilizer when they start to flower. Note that too much fertilizer will result to too much leaf production instead of flower stalks.
If you placed your containers on the ground, watch out for slugs as they too love strawberries. Hanging strawberries can be picked by birds. These are only example of some problem that you might encounter. There are others like pests and diseases, so best to watch your strawberry plants closely.
Special Care Tips
To have higher quantities of fruits it is advised, June bearing strawberries, to remove all buds on its first year and for Ever-bearing and Day Neutral variety, the early summer batch of buds. Most strawberries produces runners, it looks like a long stem that will have baby plant at the tip and will develop roots of its own. It is also recommended to clip most runners for the mother plant to produce more fruits but you can leave 2-3 runners each plant. Place the runner on the soil nearby and leave it attached the mother plant until they are big enough to be dug up and replanted. After 2 years the container or basket could be overcrowded, it is better to thin them out and re-pot to new soil.
Update!!! (May 11, 2014)
Did you know that you can use your spent coffee grounds as organic strawberry fertilizer? I read it in some comments about plant fertilizers and this is the first time I tried it with my strawberries and they seem to like it. It is a good way to repel snails and slugs too they say! I haven’t check that one though since I have my strawberries now hanging on my self-made Strawberry Planters to avoid this. What I usually do is just mix the used coffee grounds with soil around each plant! This photo below are (some of) my strawberries, all were fertilized with coffee grounds. Look how healthy they are and they have lots of flowers!