The Q&A Archives: When Do You Plant Strawberry Plants, And How Long Until They Bear Fruit?

Question: I live in the Chicago Area and want to plant Strawberries this Spring. When is it best to plant the plants (after heavy frost is over, or after all threat of frost is done) and will I get a crop this year? If not, when can I expect a full crop? Are the plants perrenial and all I need to do is to mow them down after they are done producing?

Answer: Strawberries are usually purchased in quantity as bare rooted plants. They are shipped very early in the spring and should be planted immediately. The plants themselves are very cold tolerant. (Open blossoms and berries however are not, hence the worries about frost on strawberries.) Generally it takes a full year to produce a crop because they form the flower buds for the berries during the fall and these flowers are generally picked off when the plants are dug for shipping. The idea here is to allow the plants to use their energy to establish themselves the first year rather than to produce fruit.

The plants are perennial but require a good amount of care in order to produce a good crop (or any crop for that matter). They must be planted in full sun in rich soil with plenty of organic matter added and excellent drainage. They need to be watered and mulched and weeded. Runners need to be controlled so the plants do not grow too thickly. In late summer they need to be trimmed back and in late fall they will need a winter mulch; they should routinely be checked over for any problems. You should also check your soil by running tests to see what amendments and/or fertilizers may be needed for the best results.

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