When to share strawberry plants Australia



Strawberries (Fragaria) belong to the rose family (Rosaceae) and thus belong to the same plant family as apples, cherries, quinces and many other types of fruit. Ornamental shrubs such as the finger bush (Potentilla), the firethorn (Pyracantha) and the Spier bush (Spiraea) are also included. The relatively simple flowers with five petals are typical of the plant family. The natural range of strawberries extends over America, Europe and Asia. The ancestors of our cultivated strawberries come from America: the North American scarlet strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and the chile strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) came to Europe in the middle of the 18th century. At that time the so-called pineapple strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) was created from a cross between the two species - a hybrid that is considered the archetype of today's garden strawberries. A variety of the native wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are the monthly strawberries (Fragaria vesca var. Semperflorens), which bloom from May to October and continuously bear fruit. It is for this reason that they are now called everbearing or remontaining strawberries. Of the approximately 1,000 strawberry varieties worldwide, around 100 are grown in Germany, predominantly the garden strawberries that bear once.

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Appearance and stature

Strawberries are perennial plants that are classified as perennials due to their way of life. The flowers and fruits form on long herbaceous stems near the ground. The three to five-fold, deep green leaves are in a rosette. After a cold stimulus, umbels with small white flowers appear, which, depending on the variety, can be clearly or barely discernible in the foliage. Since the fruit of the strawberry is a collective crop and the actual seeds appear as small yellow nuts on the outside of the fruit, the fruits of the strawberries are among the so-called collective nut fruits.

Location and soil

Strawberry plants do best in full sun. The more sun the plants get, the sweeter the fruits become. The place should be a little sheltered from the wind, but not completely calm, so that the foliage dries off as quickly as possible after rainfall and leaf diseases cannot gain a foothold so easily. Locations at risk of late frost are unsuitable as the flowers can easily freeze here.

The soil should be loose and not too heavy, deep and rich in humus and the pH value should ideally be between 5.5 and 6.5, i.e. in the weakly acidic to acidic range. Root diseases develop more easily on compacted soils, so it is important to loosen them up with deciduous compost or sand before planting and to prepare for the sun-hungry berries with green manure. In principle, do not use conventional garden compost for strawberries. It is too salty and lime-rich and therefore unsuitable for perennials that are sensitive to salt.

Proper soil preparation is the basis for a good harvest: dig the soil deep with a digging fork and then use a cultivator to shallow four to five liters of humus or leaf compost and about 30 grams of horn meal per square meter. Two weeks after preparing the bed, the soil has settled so far that all you have to do is rake the bed smooth. Then you can plant the strawberries.

Crop rotation and mixed culture

Strawberries produce the greatest yield in the second and third year after planting. After that, the yields and the quality of the fruit decrease continuously. So you should change the bed and plant new young plants or your own offshoots. Like most rose plants, strawberries are very sensitive to reproduction - this means that you should not plant new strawberries in a bed in which strawberries have been growing until after four years at the earliest to avoid soil fatigue and soil pests such as nematodes. Vegetables with a short cultivation period, such as kohlrabi, salads and radishes, are ideal as pre-crops. Garlic has also proven itself as a mixed crop for strawberries. Onions protect strawberry plants from fungal diseases. For example, lupins or crimson clover can be used as green manures.

Summer is a good time to plant a strawberry patch in the garden. Here, MEIN SCHÖNER GARTEN editor Dieke van Dieken shows you step by step how to plant strawberries correctly.
Credit: MSG / Camera + Editing: Marc Wilhelm / Sound: Annika Gnädig

When to plant strawberries depends on what kind of strawberries it is. In general: two months before planting, you should improve the soil with deciduous compost and - if available - rotted cow dung. As a rule, young strawberry plants are then available in stores from July. The best time to plant garden strawberries starts in the middle of the month and ends in August - then they give a good yield in the first year of standing. Multi-bearing varieties can be planted in the ground from August to September, while monthly and climbing strawberries are best planted in spring.

The distance between the rows should be at least 60 centimeters, so large that you can easily harvest the fruit. In the row, a planting distance of 25 to 30 centimeters is sufficient. The plants should be planted deep enough so that the heart of the plants remains above the surface of the earth. In the case of bare-root young plants, make sure that the roots reach the soil vertically and well spread out. They shouldn't be kinked.

To avoid mistakes when caring for strawberries, you should know that the plants need a lot of water, especially during the growth phase and in dry weather. In addition, when caring for strawberries, it is important to regularly clear the soil of weeds. This can be done in the year of planting by carefully hoeing - after that you should forego mechanical tillage and instead mulch the bed with dried-up lawn clippings. This prevents weeds from growing. By mulching your strawberries with straw from the beginning of May, you protect the sensitive fruits from moisture and gray mold infestation. In addition, the fruits lying on the ground stay clean and weeds are still suppressed.

After the harvest, the straw should be cleared aside again. You cut off the leaves of strawberries and remove all the children that you don't need for propagation. The old leaves are usually infected with fungal diseases and must therefore be carefully removed from the bed. The same applies to weeds that have grown through. Use a sow's tooth to loosen the soil compacted by the harvest between the rows. Then sprinkle organic berry fertilizer around each plant and then mulch them with deciduous compost. You can pour the cut plants in so far that only the tips of the cut petioles can be seen. You only fertilize strawberries after the harvest, because from then until autumn the new flower buds are created for the coming strawberry season, for which the plants need a lot of nutrients.

In this video we will tell you how to properly fertilize strawberries in late summer.
Credit: MSG / Alexander Buggisch

Strawberry varieties that are in bearing once and twice in the open do not need any special protection when overwintering, unless it is extremely cold. Strawberries that are kept as potted plants must, however, be given winter protection in good time and moved to a sheltered place, for example on a roofed house wall. In the case of permafrost, they are brought into the house for safety.

Culture in the pot

Especially everbearing strawberry varieties, which produce fruit well into October, can be cultivated very well in planters. The small and aromatic fruits of these remontant varieties hang in the air instead of lying on the ground.

If you want to pull raspberry or pineapple strawberries in a pot, a bucket about 20 centimeters in diameter and depth is sufficient. About three of the smaller pineberries fit into such a pot. As a precaution, winter potted strawberries in a cool, dark place in a frost-free place for the first year and don't forget to water them. Somewhat larger pots, tubs and balcony boxes with water drainage holes are ideal for planting. For the varieties, you should use robust, everbearing strawberries such as ‘Camara’, ‘Cupido’ or ‘Siskeep’. Put potting soil with organic fertilizer in the planters and set up the planted containers in full sun. In autumn you should cut back the plants so that they can bear fruit for another two years.

Harvest and recovery

Garden strawberries that are in bearing are usually ripe for picking in June. During harvest, the plants can be harvested two to three times a week. If varieties with different ripening times are grown side by side in the bed, the season for fresh strawberries can be extended a little. Remounting strawberries are ripe several times a year, but not as productive as garden strawberries.

Since strawberries are very sensitive to pressure and can only be stored for a short time, they should be consumed or processed as fresh as possible - for example into strawberry jam or sauce. The fruits can also be frozen, although they are a bit mushy after thawing. Freezing has proven to be particularly useful for later processing the fruit into jam. This usually tastes more aromatic than jam made from fresh strawberries.

Recommended varieties

The varieties bred for crop cultivation differ very much from the strawberry varieties for home gardens. They are mainly grown on firm pulp so that they can be easily transported. In terms of taste, however, they do not come close to the home garden varieties. The most widespread strawberries are the garden strawberries that bear once. They also have the largest range of varieties. Early to mid-early varieties of it are for example:

‘Polka’: high yield, relatively robust
‘Senga Sengana’: long-bearing, strong growth
‘Ostara’: remounting variety, medium-sized, heart-shaped fruits
‘Jubilae’: good taste, robust
‘Elvira’: high yields, early ripening time

Varieties that ripen medium late to late are ‘Thuriga’, ‘Salsa’ and ‘Symphony’.

Typical home garden varieties produce very soft, but highly aromatic fruits. They are usually a little more small-fruited than the yield varieties and should be processed quickly as they cannot be stored for long. Mention should be made of ‘Hummi Praline’ (dark red, fragrant fruit, very sweet and aromatic) or ‘Hummi Silva’ (large and very juicy, aromatic strawberries).

Old varieties with a special aroma and small fruits with very soft pulp are ‘Queen Louise’, ‘Director Paul Wallbaum’ or ‘Mieze Schindler’. Warning: These varieties are not self-fertile and should therefore be combined with other strawberry plants.

Strawberries that bear multiple times are less common in the garden. They bear the first fruits in June / July and after a break in late summer / autumn they add more. While the first harvest is often plentiful, the later fruits usually only appear sporadically. The strawberries are usually smaller, but more aromatic than the fruits of the varieties that bear once. You can only harvest larger fruits if you thin out the first clusters of fruit as early as May so that only five to six strawberries remain per fruit shoot. Well-known varieties are ‘Ostara’, ‘Selva’, ‘Sweetheart’ or ‘Rapella’, which produces large, sweet and sour fruits.

Monthly strawberries, which are derived from the wild strawberry, are very robust and produce tasty small fruits from June to October. The most common variety is ‘Rügen’, but only the fully ripe fruits develop their aroma. Disadvantage: They can only be propagated by seeds and their yields decline quickly after the first two years.

Special cultivars are, for example, the meadow strawberry (Fragaria x vescana), the raspberry and the pineapple strawberry. The meadow strawberry is a cross between the garden strawberry and the wild strawberry and produces small, aromatic fruits. Their foothills grow together to form a dense meadow. It is planted with three to six plants per square meter in May. Spadeka ’or‘ Florika ’are suitable as varieties.

The raspberry-strawberry is not, as the name suggests, a cross between a raspberry and a strawberry, but a protected new variety of the strawberry. The look and taste of Fragaria x ananassa look like a mixture of the two red berries. The fruits are firm and not quite as big as those of the classic strawberry. The kernels are sunk deep into the fruit and thus form the characteristic small dimples. They are a little darker than the common strawberry with a shade of red that turns purple. The name "Framberry" is a combination of "Framboos" (Dutch for raspberry) and "Strawberry" (English for strawberry). Recommended varieties are, for example, ‘Framberry’ or Purple Fresh ’. The flowering period of raspberry strawberries lasts from May to June.

The pineapple strawberry, sold under the brand name "Pineberry", is also a cultivated form of the garden strawberry. Well-known varieties are White Dream ’or‘ Anabella ’. The pineapple strawberry has a slight pineapple aroma in addition to its strawberry flavor. The most striking thing about it, however, is the look, because the berry is not red, but white with red seeds. In fact, white strawberries were already known in South America in the 18th century, but have not yet been grown commercially.

Thanks to another crossbreeding, the Pineberry is now the robust variety of a very old strawberry shape. The berries are green at first, then turn a whitish shade and are ripe when the nuts turn red. Since there is currently only one grower, the pineapple strawberry can be considered a real rarity. With a height of around 20 centimeters and fruits only two centimeters in size, the plants remain significantly smaller than ordinary cultivated strawberries and are also somewhat more sensitive to pressure. Flowering time is from March to June. The first fruits can then be harvested between May and the beginning of July.

Both raspberry and pineapple strawberries are hardy and bear fruit for several years. If the plants get too old, however, the harvest yield is significantly reduced, so strawberry plants should generally be replaced after about three years. The two can be increased by lowering. However, since the two are crossings, the original shape may occasionally prevail.

Our tip: You can also combine different varieties of self-fertile garden strawberries. On the one hand, you can extend the harvest time by combining early and late breeding, and on the other hand, the yields are higher if a second pollinator variety is planted.

Propagate strawberries

Strawberries multiply via runners, which in turn multiply through new leaf rosettes and new runners. If you do not intervene, a dense carpet of plants will develop over time. Most strawberry varieties have hermaphrodite flowers and, as already mentioned, can self-fertilize. In the case of purely female varieties such as the old and very aromatic ‘Mieze Schindler’, it is necessary to plant a pollinator variety nearby.

Garden strawberries in particular, which form runners, can be easily propagated using cuttings: The runners can be removed and potted or placed in the ground straight away. You should make sure that you only reproduce healthy mother plants. The selection is important: during the harvest, mark the plants with labels that are richest and only grow these daughter plants in small pots filled with soil. After rooting, you can separate the offshoots from the mother plant. Note, however, that strawberries raised from Kindeln degenerate more and more over time. After each self-propagated generation, it makes sense to refresh the stock with purchased young plants. These are now used exclusively through the so-called meristem multiplication.The method has the advantage that very healthy young plants are obtained that are free from nematodes and pathogens.

In this video we show you how you can easily propagate strawberries from cuttings.
Credit: MSG / Alexandra Tistounet / Alexander Buggisch

Monthly strawberries do not form runners and are therefore propagated by sowing. In February to March, scatter the seeds thinly in seed boxes or seed trays filled with potting soil. Just sift the seeds lightly with soil and moisten them. A bright place with around 17 to 20 degrees Celsius is ideal for germination. Keep the pots moderately moist. As soon as the seedlings have set five leaves, the plants can be pricked out in individual pots and kept evenly moist. After about ten weeks, the young plants are fertilized and then planted out at a distance of about 25 centimeters from the beginning of May. The harvest will be small in the first year, but the strawberries will bear plenty of fruit from next year.

You can also extract the seeds of the monthly strawberries yourself by crushing the fully ripe fruits and adding water to them. After a few hours, the suspended matter with the seeds has settled and is poured off. After they have dried for a few days, you can easily detach the seeds from the remains of the fruit with your fingers.

Because of the problem of replication already mentioned, it is important to change the location for the strawberry patch every three to four years. If this is not adhered to and if the weather is damp for a long time, various diseases and pests can appear on strawberries: The most feared disease is gray mold (Botrytis cinerea). It is caused by a fungus that persists in the foliage in humid conditions. The causative agent of red spot disease and the very similar black spot disease are also fungi. Red root rot can also occur, making the main roots look pale and smooth. Curled, brownish discolored heart leaves indicate strawberry mites or soft skin mites. As a preventive measure, you should follow the care measures such as removing the old leaves and offshoots in summer, ensure a sunny and airy location and cultivate varieties that are less susceptible to disease, such as fäll Pegasus ’. Millipedes like to nibble on plants, especially when it is dry. If you discover kinked stems and dried flowers, the strawberry blossom picker is probably up to mischief.

Where do strawberries come from?

The ancestors of our cultivated strawberries originally come from America. In the middle of the 18th century they were brought to us in Europe.

When can you plant strawberries?

Strawberries are usually planted from mid-July to August. While multi-bearing varieties come into the ground from August to September, monthly strawberries are best planted in spring.

Which soil is suitable for strawberries?

Strawberries prefer a substrate rich in humus with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

When can you fertilize strawberries?

Basically fertilize strawberries only after they have been harvested. Purely organic berry fertilizers are ideal. The bed can be prepared with leaf humus or bark compost. Compost, mineral or organic-mineral fertilizers are not suitable.

When can you transplant strawberries?

There is usually no need to transplant strawberries. After three years at the latest, they will be replaced by new plants, otherwise the yield will decrease. Note that transplanting is generally difficult - the plants are sensitive to reproduction and will not grow in locations where other rose plants have recently stood.

When do you have to cut strawberries?

In early spring, all dead leaves are cut off. In the case of single-bearing strawberries, all runners are cut off in summer. Furthermore, the outer leaf wreath and all diseased leaves are cut off immediately after the harvest. Runners of multiple bearing varieties, on the other hand, are only cut back in autumn.

When can you pick strawberries?

Single-bearing strawberries are usually ripe in June and can be harvested several times. Multi-bearing varieties can be harvested again in August after a break.

How do you store strawberries?

Freshly picked strawberries are best stored unwashed and as dry as possible in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator - preferably in a cardboard box or kitchen towel.

Which strawberries are the best?

With around 1,000 strawberry varieties worldwide, it is definitely a matter of taste which variety suits you the most. But it can be said with certainty that strawberries taste best when they are freshly picked.

Can you wash strawberries?

Yes, but strawberries should only be washed immediately before consumption, as they stay fresh longer if they are unwashed. It is better not to use running water, but standing water.