The Ultimate Guide to Growing Succulent Strawberries in Hanging Containers

If you’ve been craving the luscious sweetness of homegrown strawberries but lack the space or commitment for a full garden bed, we have the perfect solution for you. Growing strawberries in hanging containers not only saves space but also adds a touch of beauty to your surroundings. With a little knowledge and a few simple steps, you’ll be ready to pot a hanging basket that produces an abundance of delicious strawberries.

Best Varieties for Hanging Baskets

While those big, juicy strawberries at the grocery store may need plenty of space to grow, there are many smaller, highly productive strawberry varieties that thrive in hanging containers. Look for varieties that put more energy into fruit production and have fewer runners. Avoid the long-reaching Junebearing strawberries and opt for Alpine or day-neutral varieties instead.

Here are some top basket-worthy strawberry plants to consider:

  • ‘Alpine Alexandria’: Known for its high productivity, this variety offers a steady stream of berries from a single pot.
  • ‘Alpine Yellow Wonder’: Its sunny hue not only adds color but also makes it less appealing to birds.
  • ‘Alpine White Soul’: Like ‘Yellow Wonder,’ birds tend to leave ‘White Soul’ alone.
  • ‘Mignonette’: With no runners to worry about, this variety requires less pruning.
  • ‘Montana’: Extra-large white flowers make this pick even more visually appealing.
  • ‘Ruby Ann’: Prized for its extra dark-red fruits and flowers, ‘Ruby Ann’ strawberries are a treat for the eyes and the taste buds.
  • ‘Summer Breeze Deep Rose’: The rose-colored blooms of this variety set it apart from the rest.
  • ‘Tristan’: Versatile, attractive, and highly productive, ‘Tristan’ checks all the boxes.
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Essential Supplies for Planting

To get started, you’ll need more than just strawberry plants. Ensure you have a hanging basket with drainage holes, as strawberries dislike sitting in wet soil. Opting for a plastic pot is a wise choice since terra cotta pots dry out faster and may break if accidentally dropped. Consider using a self-watering hanging basket to reduce the frequency of watering.

Don’t forget to use soil specifically designed for container gardening, as it provides the proper drainage required by strawberries. Burpee Organic Potting Mix, which contains perlite, is an excellent option as it further enhances drainage. Using garden soil can lead to soggy plants and the potential for bacteria and fungi.

Ideal Planting Time

Plant garden-ready strawberry plants or crowns in early to mid-spring to ensure a bountiful harvest. Waiting until after the average last frost date may result in a delayed strawberry season. Don’t worry, though, as strawberries can handle chilly spring nights with ease.

Selecting the Perfect Spot for Your Baskets

Growing strawberries in hanging containers requires a spot that receives a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight daily. Although some Alpine varieties can tolerate a bit more shade, it’s crucial to check the specific requirements of your chosen plants. You have the freedom to get creative and hang your baskets on your front porch, back deck, or anywhere that allows for easy access and regular watering.

Tips for Care and Maintenance

Caring for strawberries in hanging pots is similar to caring for in-ground plants. However, it’s important to remove any runners (also known as stolons or vines) produced by varieties that tend to have them. Runners seek soil to grow new plants, and it’s a long journey from a hanging basket to the ground. By removing runners, your plants can focus their energy on developing more delicious berries. (Note: Alpine strawberries do not produce runners.)

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One of the benefits of planting strawberries in hanging containers is the ability to move them around as needed. Whether it’s an unexpected freeze, a scorching heatwave, or a midsummer hailstorm, you can protect your plants by moving them indoors or providing cover.

Harvesting Your Bounty

The best time to harvest strawberries is when they are fully red and slightly firm to the touch but not soft or mushy. Instead of plucking the fruit directly off the stem, use clean gardening shears to cut it away along with a small portion of the stem. This method ensures the continued growth of the plant and prevents any damage to the stem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should be done with hanging strawberry runners?

A: Prune them using pruning shears or scissors.

Q: How can I protect strawberries in hanging baskets from birds?

A: Elevation protects hanging strawberries from soil-borne diseases, slugs, and bugs, but it also makes them an easy target for hungry birds. Consider growing non-red varieties, such as ‘Alpine Yellow’ or ‘Alpine White Soul,’ or cover your basket with bird netting.

Q: What should I do with strawberry plants in pots at the end of the growing season?

A: Some strawberry varieties are meant to be grown as annuals, so you can compost them at the end of the season. For other types, you can move them indoors (garage or basement) during winter and water them occasionally until the soil dries out. Then, bring them back outside the following spring. Alternatively, you can plant them in the ground in the fall, allowing them to overwinter and grow again next year.

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Ready to embark on your strawberry-growing adventure? Get your hanging containers ready, choose your favorite strawberry varieties, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. For more helpful gardening tips, visit the Ames Farm Center website.