Strawberries are supposed to be large and juicy, making for the perfect summer treat. But what happens when they come out smaller than anticipated? We’ll break down the reasons for small strawberries and what you can do to prevent this from happening.
Why are my strawberries so small: As your strawberry plants start to grow, spend a few minutes each day inspecting their conditions. If you are going through a heatwave, you will need to water extra to keep your plants hydrated. You can also look for unwanted bugs and place a netting down to keep them at bay. This will protect your plants but still allow sunlight in. When first planting your garden, ensure there is proper spacing between the plants so they have access to nutrients and sunlight. You can also add a layer of bark mulch to the soil above the strawberries to keep weeds from growing.
Reasons why your strawberries are so small
Type of strawberry
The first step with planting any type of crop is to have the right expectations. You should always consider what variety of fruit or vegetable you are planting so that you know what the outcome will be.
There are dozens of different varieties of strawberries. Some grow early in the season, some produce multiple crops, and some are just small in size.
When purchasing your strawberry plants, always check the variety description. You may discover you are simply buying a plant that produces small fruit, such as alpine strawberries.
While strawberries do require important nutrients to grow, if they receive too much nitrogen, it can result in very small berries.
Nitrogen is an important mineral for growing but strawberries, it can lead to healthy leaves but very small berries. Furthermore, it can affect the overall yield so that not only do you get small strawberries but they are also few in number.
Your strawberry plants need space to grow. They need to have proper access to sunlight and their roots need to be able to stretch out in the soil.
A large nuisance with strawberries is the weeds that can pop up in between the plants. The more weeds you have, the less opportunity your strawberry plants have to access everything they need. As a result, the plants won’t be able to grow large berries.
Even though strawberries do well with warm summers, too much heat can cause a major disruption in your yield. If you have a sustained heatwave that is many days long, this can majorly disrupt a strawberry’s growing season.
Too much heat means any moisture in the soil and even the plant itself, is quickly evaporated and if you are not able to water extra, your plant will stunt its growth. If this heatwave happens just as your berries are starting to form, they can be a much smaller size.
Cool or wet weather
Strawberries rely on pollinators for their fruit to grow. Without bees and other insects, the pollen is not carried from flower to flower and thus your berries won’t form.
If the weather is wet or windy during this crucial time, it can mean that bees aren’t able to get to the plants. While they may be able to help with pollination at a later time, by then the growing season may have already started and thus your strawberries have less time to grow.
One bug, in particular, the Lygus bug, is drawn to strawberries with very undesirable effects. As the bug feasts on the pistils of the strawberry, it can become slightly deformed as it grows.
Furthermore, the strawberry can end up having a hard end on it that you will have to cut off.
We know you want as many strawberries as possible but planting them too close together will end up in smaller berries, not more of them. When planting, be sure to follow the recommended spacing guidelines.
You should plant your strawberries about 6 inches apart as they will spread out as they grow. For varieties of strawberries that produce runners, aim for 18 inches apart.
How do I get my strawberries to grow bigger?
To ensure your strawberries are as large as they can be, be sure to follow these simple steps. You should monitor your strawberries as they grow and make any changes immediately to salvage the growing season.
Tip 1 – Add a layer of mulch
After you plant your strawberry plants, you should add a layer of mulch on top of the soil. This will provide many important benefits to your plants.
First, mulch makes it harder for weeds to grow. Therefore, your strawberries won’t have to battle for space next to so many weeds.
Secondly, mulch helps preserve the moisture in the soil. You don’t have to worry about watering as much and if there is a hot day, the mulch will help keep the soil cooler.
Tip 2 – Water regularly
When growing strawberries, be sure to stick to a regular watering schedule. These berries prefer soil that is well-drained but it should not dry out.
Try to water in the morning or evening so that the water will stay longer in the soil. You should water the soil by the roots and not the leaves to discourage mold from setting in.
While you can water by hand, if you have a drip system it will be easier to control the amount of water.
Tip 3 – Cover your rows
If you have a history of pests visiting your strawberries, you may want to think about covering your plant rows. You can lay down a thin gauze-like material which will provide a barrier from pests but will let sunlight and water in.
You can also spray your plants with a homemade mixture such as soapy water or even hot pepper. Don’t use pesticides as this can deter bees from coming to pollinate.
With just a few alterations, you can ensure your strawberries are as large as possible. Then you can enjoy your sweet crop all summer long.