Parts of a Strawberry Plant
Strawberries don't grow the same way other fruit-bearing plants do. By understanding their unique plant structure, you can learn how to give them better, more specific care, and grow the most bountiful berry crop on your block.
This is the central "trunk" of the strawberry plant from which all other parts grow. It's perennial, reviving each spring and sending out new growth. Take care when planting that the crown remains right at ground level. If it is buried, it could rot.
Strawberry roots grow shallowly, remaining mainly in the top three to six inches of soil, depending on the variety. They must compete for water with other plants unless you weed them scrupulously. Each spring, new roots grow from higher and higher up the crown, eventually climbing up above the soil. Cover them with more soil each season.
Leaves develop from points on the crown called "nodes" or "auxiliary buds." Three jagged-edged, oval leaves bud from the end of each bud stalk.
Flowers, from which fruit develops, appear on thin, leafless stalks that grow from the crown. Different strawberry varieties will flower and fruit at different frequencies. Some will do so only once a season, some have several fruiting times and some will produce strawberries throughout the season.
After fruiting time, auxiliary buds start producing runners: long stems whose ends form crowns, take root and become new "daughter plants." Depending on the variety, you may see many runners or only a few. Prune these off to keep your strawberries contained, or let them shoot out to create thick ground cover.
Plant Strawberry Plants
There are three different ways to plant strawberries. You can sow seeds directly into your garden; start seeds in containers and transplant them outdoors later; or you can purchase crowns from a nursery. Crowns are bare strawberry roots with top growth, which can be planted immediately in your garden. Regardless of the method you choose, strawberries should not be planted outside until all danger of frost has passed. For this reason, timing varies greatly from one region to another. Seeds, seedlings or crowns should be planted 12 to 14 inches apart in rows, with at least 18 inches between each row. Crowns buried too deep will rot. Strawberries usually fare best in a location with lots of sun, although a bit of shade is preferable in very hot climates. Strawberries grow best in loose, well-draining, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8.