Humans have been eating strawberries since the Stone Age, and they were first cultivated in ancient Persia. But in our supermarket society, where a huge range of fruit and vegetables are available virtually all year round, you may be forgiven for wondering when strawberries grow. After all, when strawberries aren’t available at your local farmers’ markets, they are often available in stores that import fruit and veg.
So, when do strawberries grow? Traditionally home gardeners grow strawberries as perennials, which means they continue to grow year after year. In cold regions, some people grow them as annuals. This means planting them in early spring and then pulling the plants out after they produce fruit.
What month do you get strawberries to grow?
We grow strawberries all over the world, with primary markets in North America, Europe, and Australia. This means that strawberries grow somewhere in the world all year round.
But we’re going to focus on growing strawberries in North America. There are several different types, but generally, the growing season is from spring through summer, and sometimes into the fall. This means that your strawberry plants will grow from about April until early December.
Depending on the types of strawberries you plant, and where you live, you will be able to harvest in June, September, and October – maybe during other months as well.
Different Types of Strawberries
Strawberries are relatives of the rose (Rosaceae family) and they belong to the genus Fragaria. There are more than 20 different strawberry species, all of which are herbaceous flowering plants known as forbs.
The type that is native to the northern hemisphere is Fragaria vesca, which is also called:
- Woodland strawberry
- Wood strawberry
- Wild strawberry
- European strawberry
- Fraises des bois
- Alpine strawberry
The garden strawberry we grow today is a cross between a North American strawberry and a South American plant. This is also the most popular strawberry for commercial fruit production.
But it doesn’t stop here. Today, there are three main strawberry types, June-bearing strawberries, everbearing strawberry varieties, and day-neutral strawberry varieties.
You might also have read about strawberry trees, Arbutus unedo. So, we’ll add the strawberry tree to our list of types of strawberries.
June bearing strawberries
June bearing strawberries are the most popular type and produce the largest fruit of all.
Although they are called June bearing strawberries, there are different varieties: early season, early midseason, midseason, late midseason, and late season. So, by planting different varieties you can produce fruit for harvest in June and July.
Everbearing strawberry varieties
When we talk about everbearing strawberries it might sound as if they bear fruit forever. They don’t. Rather, everbearing strawberries produce fruit twice a year – once in the spring and once in late summer or the fall.
In ideal growing conditions, some home gardeners manage to produce three harvests.
Day neutral strawberry varieties
Day-neutral strawberry varieties flower and set fruit when the temperature is 35-85°F (1.6-30°C). If the climate is mild enough, they often bear fruit from June through October.
Unlike other varieties, day-neutral strawberries produce a good yield from the first year they are planted. On the downside, they produce fruit that is smaller than the other varieties.
Unlike strawberry plants that bear the red, juicy strawberries we eat with cream, the fruit from strawberry trees is bland and unappetizing. It also has rough skin that has to be peeled before you can eat the fruit.
Strawberry trees flower in the fall and in winter at the same time as the fruits set the previous year mature. Many people grow it as an ornamental tree, though the fruit does make a great filling for tarts and may be incorporated into jams, jellies, and fruity sauces.
How long does it take for a strawberry plant to bear fruit?
On average, strawberry plants take about three months to produce fruit after they have flowered. But, of course, it depends on the type of strawberries you plant.
Whichever type of strawberry you choose to grow, most home gardeners plant in spring, usually during March or April. This ensures that they are well established before the hot summer weather sets in.
Some gardeners opt to plant in the fall, particularly if they are growing day-neutral strawberries that will produce during the first growing season.
Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach program have some useful information about the flowering and fruiting characteristics of the different types of strawberries.
When do strawberry plants bear fruit?
June bearing strawberries develop flower buds late in the summer months and in early fall. This is when days get shorter and temperatures get colder. The plants only flower the following spring, and typically, the strawberries ripen during June and early July.
In the summer months, June bearing strawberries produce new runners, more properly known as stolons, which are long, largely leafless stems that form from the mother plants or crowns. They form at ground level and increase the ability of the plant to produce more fruit over time.
Everbearing strawberry varieties produce fruit in late spring, late summer, and early fall. They don’t flower or fruit during the rest of the year.
Unlike the June-bearing type, they don’t produce many runners but do form several crowns, which is where you find the central mass of roots.
Day-neutral strawberry varieties aren’t affected by the length of the day. While these strawberries produce better in cool weather, they do set fruit during the summer season.
Tips for Growing Strawberries
Whether you are new to growing strawberries or simply want some fresh ideas, here are a few tips.
Tip 1: Where to grow strawberries
Strawberries grow best in full sun. You should also avoid areas where there are tall trees and large bushes that will cast shadows and siphon-off moisture from the ground.
Tip 2: Soil quality & drainage
Strawberries prefer a sandy loam that contains a fair amount of organic matter. Consider adding compost, peat moss, and some grit or sand to your strawberry bed.
Make sure there is good soil and surface drainage. Poor drainage can quickly lead to root rot.
If your soil is too heavy or drainage isn’t great, raised beds can be the answer. Elevate these to at least 6-8 inches (15-20 cm).
Tip 3: Prepare your strawberry bed for planting
Dig out all weeds and grasses and dig down at least 18 inches (46 cm) to loosen the soil. Dig in a few inches of compost, and peat if the soil doesn’t retain moisture.
Check the pH of the soil. The ideal is 5.8-6.2, which will make the soil slightly acidic. You can amend alkaline soil by adding lime or manure.
Tip 4: Plant your strawberries
You want your strawberry plants to be well established before the temperatures rise in summer. So plant in March or April.
It’s best to plant on a cloudy or overcast day or late in the afternoon.
Dig holes for your plants, ensuring that the upper level of the ground will be in line with the middle of each crown. Don’t plant them too shallow or the roots will tend to dry out.
Place the plants in the holes and fill the hole with soil. Press it down firmly and then water thoroughly.
Tip 5: Cover the plants in winter
In colder climates, you will need to protect your strawberry crowns during the winter months. The simplest way to do this is to cover the plants with straw.
Straw doesn’t smother plants as some mulches can. It also helps to suppress the development of weeds.
What to do if your strawberry plant doesn’t bear fruit
If you are concerned that your strawberry plant hasn’t produced fruit, double-check the type of plant you planted. For instance, June bearing strawberry plants won’t bear fruit in the first year.
There are global strawberry breeding programs that produce plants suited to specific regions. So, it could also be that the variety of strawberries you have chosen isn’t suitable for your climate or micro-climate.
Here are some other possible reasons why your plants aren’t bearing fruit.
1. Poor growing conditions
Strawberries prefer well-drained soil and a combination of warmth and coolness. If it’s too hot during the day or at night, this could be the cause of no fruit.
2. Lack of pollination
Strawberry plants commonly have hermaphroditic flowers with both male and female parts. But the flowers are either male or female (not both).
This means that bees and other pollinating insects need access to the pollen from the flowers. So, for instance, if you are trying to grow strawberry plants indoors or on a screened patio, the pollinators may not be getting to the flowers. Try moving the plants.
3. Not enough nutrients
Strawberries won’t thrive if they are fed the correct nutrients. You can add compost and other organic matter to the soil to amend it. Adding phosphorus to the soil can also be helpful.
4. Too much nitrogen
You might find that the foliage is green and bushy, but you don’t have strawberries. If so, nitrogen might be the cause.
5. Too much or too little water
Strawberry plants have a very shallow root system and so take up most of their water from the top few inches of soil around them. This, though, dries out quite quickly, especially when temperatures rise. So, it’s important to try and keep the soil moist, but not wet.
If strawberries get too much water, they tend to get root rot. The crowns can also rot.
6. Diseases or parasites
There are all sorts of pests and diseases that attack strawberry plants. These are vast and varied but typically include fungal infections, root rot, and insects like Lygus bugs.
The best approach is to continually watch out for pests and diseases and to remove the bugs and/or affected parts of the plant.
If you are planting strawberries for the first time, look out for disease-free varieties. Some are also guaranteed to increase fruit production by up to 30%.
The growing season for most strawberry varieties is spring, but some types will produce a harvest in summer and in the fall.
Our 2023 garden tips are designed to help you decide which types of strawberries to plant in your home garden.