Strawberries are usually grown using either the matted row or the hill system. The matted row system requires the least maintenance.
Plants grown in an ornamental setting can be incorporated into the landscape. Day neutral plants, which produce fewer runners, work well in the front of a border and along sidewalks and driveways. Alpine strawberries produce tiny, highly flavored strawberries and make excellent ornamentals. To use strawberries as a groundcover, space the mother plants evenly 1 to 2 feet apart. Weed well the first year, and thereafter maintenance should be minimal. Strawberries grown as a groundcover will not produce much fruit. In all cases, the soil should be well tilled and fertilized a week before planting.
Matted Row System
The matted row system works best with June bearing strawberries. You'll need an area about eight feet wide and 30 feet long to accommodate 30 plants. In the spring, plant the original (mother) plants 2 feet apart in rows 3-4 feet apart and allow them to produce and set runner (daughter) plants freely. All the plant's energy is devoted to producing and developing strong plants the first year, so all flowers should be picked off. No fruit is harvested until the second year. Keep rows to a width of 18 to 24 inches. If plants are vigorous you will have to cut back runners that grow into the pathway between the rows.
This system is used for day neutral or everbearing cultivars and works well in raised beds. Rows should be about 8 inches high and 26 inches wide. Mother plants are planted only 12 inches apart, and staggered double rows are preferred. Leave an isle between the rows about 2 feet wide.
The plant's energy is put toward producing berries rather than producing an abundance of plants as in the matted row system, so all runners are removed and berries are harvested the first year. Plants become less productive over time, so they should be replaced every 1-3 years.
The hill system works well in warm climates where strawberries can be planted in the fall. The plants can be treated as annuals, replacing them every fall for best results.
Setting the Plants
Strawberries are planted in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. If plants must be stored before they are planted, choose a cool location out of direct sunlight and keep the roots moist, but not soggy. If possible, plant on a cool, cloudy day to reduce the stress on the transplants.
Follow these guidelines to prepare your plants:
- Prune damaged roots
- Trim excessively long roots to 4-5 inches in length.
- Remove all flowers, runners and old leaves
- Place the transplants in a container with a small amount of water in the bottom and keep them out of direct sunlight.
Plants should be set with the roots pointing downward and forming a small fan. If plants are set too shallow the crown may dry out, and if too deep the crown may rot. Set the plants just deep enough so the midpoint of the crown is even with the soil surface. After setting in, firm the soil around the plant and water thoroughly.