Strawberries are usually planted from bare-root stock, but if you don't mind waiting an extra year to begin harvesting berries and want to save money, seeds are a viable alternative to purchasing roots. Getting the seeds to germinate is challenging if you have never done it before, as they require special care before planting. Once your seeds have germinated and grown into healthy seedlings, you are well on your way to succulent fresh strawberries in your garden.
Purchase seeds from a respected nursery or garden center. Save seeds from strawberry fruit if desired, but many of the strawberries you buy do not have viable seeds.
Place strawberry seeds in the freezer for 3 weeks to cold-stratify them. Strawberries require a dormant period at freezing temperatures in order to germinate properly.
Fill seed starting flats with well draining potting soil. Make your own soil by mixing one part vermiculite, one part peat moss and one part coarse builder's sand. Moisten the soil evenly while filling the flat.
Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and place seeds inside. Soak overnight so the hard seed coating of the strawberry is softened enough for germination.
Sow seeds on the soil surface in groups of three seeds spaced 4 inches apart. Cover in a ¼ inch layer of vermiculite and spritz with water in a spray bottle to moisten.
Cover the flat with plastic wrap and place in a warm room to germinate, approximately 7 to 21 days. Check daily for sprouts and remove plastic wrap as soon as they appear.
Move flats to a sunny, warm window or place under grow lights that are placed 2 inches above the seedlings. Keep soil moist at all times.
Transplant to individual pots when the seedlings are 2 inches high. Fill pot with potting medium and plant one seedling in the middle of each one. Ensure that the crown of the plant—where the leaves emerge from the roots—is at or slightly above soil level.
Transplant outdoors in fall in a well drained garden bed with full sun. Keep soil moist but not soaking wet, watering as needed.
Things You Will Need
- Seed flats
- Peat moss
- Plastic wrap
- Grow lights
- Alpine strawberries are a variety that grows well from seed and doesn't produce runners, so they require minimal maintenance.
- Grow strawberries in hanging baskets or pots on patios or balconies instead of in a bed.
- Strawberries may produce fruit the first year, but second year berry production is more likely.
- Nitrogen fertilizers inhibit berry production though will encourage lush foliage growth. Apply fresh compost yearly instead.
- A variety of fruit rots, mites and insects are attracted to strawberries. Plant disease resistant varieties, avoid over-watering and use a chemical or organic fungus or insect control if necessary.
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