Producing small, sweet fruits spring through fall, alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) need little care other than consistently moist soil and fertilizer applications. These bushy plants grow 3 to 9 inches tall and 9 to 12 inches wide, and are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Spreading by above-ground runners and self-seeding, alpine strawberries are invasive in some areas of the United States; keep the runners trimmed to prevent the plants from spreading.
Finding the Best Locations
Sunny or partially shaded spots with organically rich, fertile, medium-moisture soil are best for growing alpine strawberries. These plants can be grown in hanging baskets, other containers, herb beds and at the front of a flowerbed as decorative plants.
Grow alpine strawberries in areas that receive at least four hours of sunlight every day. In hot climates, alpine strawberries grow best in dappled shade or where they receive afternoon shade. A hanging basket 12 inches wide can hold three to five plants; in window boxes, alpine strawberries should be spaced 6 inches apart. Containers for alpine strawberries must have bottom drainage holes. Space the plants 9 to 12 inches apart in the open ground so that the center of each plant is 9 to 12 inches from the center of the next plant.
Watering the Plants
Consistently moist soil reduces pests on alpine strawberries. Soaker hoses or drip-irrigation systems provide a low-maintenance, water-conserving method for watering alpine strawberries. You also can water them with a watering can or garden hose fitted with a soft-spray attachment. Water the plants at their bases, and avoid wetting their leaves to reduce the risk of diseases.
Water alpine strawberries when their soil surface is dry. Apply enough water to moisten the soil to the depth of the plants' root balls. If you want to help conserve soil moisture, spread a layer of leaf mold, garden compost or other organic mulch 2 inches thick around the plants, but don't pile the mulch against the plant stems.
Fertilizing alpine strawberries frequently with a weak solution of organic fertilizer encourages healthy growth. Plants can live up to four years with regular fertilizing. Apply a weak fertilizer solution every two weeks while alpine strawberries are actively growing.
Mix 1/2 fluid ounce of an organic 8-0-0 fertilizer with 2 gallons of water to feed in-ground alpine strawberries. In the morning, pour the solution from a watering can over the leaves, and pour the remaining solution over the ground. Two gallons of fertilizer solution feeds 20 square feet of alpine strawberries.
Mix 1/4 teaspoon of organic 8-0-0 fertilizer into 6 cups of water to feed alpine strawberries in containers. Pour the solution over the potting soil surface until it flows through the containers' drainage holes. Don't spray the leaves of alpine strawberries in containers with fertilizer solution.
Alpine strawberries' fruits appear the first season after sowing. The fruits are ready for harvesting when they give slightly to the touch. Different varieties have different colors of berries: red, white and yellow. The red fruits turn a rich red.
Harvest alpine strawberries when the fruits are ripe to encourage the plants to produce more fruits and to reduce the risk of the plants self-seeding. Pick the fruits three or four times each week. Seven or eight established plants produce about 1 cup of fruit at each harvest.
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