Gardening

How to plant strawberry

Fragaria x ananassa

The strawberry or strawberry is a hybrid plant that arose naturally in France during the 18th century, resulting from the crossing of two wild species from the American continent, one being the species Fragaria virginiana and the other the species Fragaria chiloensis . Thanks to the size of its fruits and the productivity of the plant, this hybrid has become the most cultivated strawberry in the world.

The strawberry is actually a pseudocarp, that is, a pseudofruit or a false fruit, since the strawberry is the result of the growth of the tissue in the receptacle that contains the flower’s ovaries. The real fruits of a strawberry are the so-called “strawberry seeds”, which are fruits of the achene type (a type of dried fruit), and which contain a single seed each. Each flower has many ovaries and each generates, when fertilized, an achene.

Strawberry is a short-lived perennial that usually reaches 10 to 30 cm in height. Its leaves are trifoliate, that is, each leaf has three leaflets, like a clover, and are also edible, especially when the leaves are younger. The entire plant can be used for medicinal purposes.

Climate

Cultivars can be found that grow well in different temperature ranges. Some can be grown in warmer regions, but a period of low temperatures during winter is always necessary. The ideal is that the temperature does not exceed, on average, 22 ° C during fruiting. In addition, sunny days and cold nights are considered to lead to the production of the best strawberries.

In regions of temperate, subtropical or tropical altitude, the strawberry can be grown relatively easily. In regions where the temperature is not low during the winter, strawberry seedlings can be placed in a refrigerated environment at approximately 4 ° C for 15 to 20 days, before being planted.

Brightness

Most strawberry cultivars are sensitive to the photoperiod, that is, the number of hours of light in a day. Among these, there are long-day cultivars and short-day cultivars. Long-day cultivars are suitable for regions at high latitudes, where the length of daylight varies considerably throughout the year. There are cultivars that are not sensitive to the photoperiod. It is important to choose cultivars suitable for your region.

The strawberry needs good light to grow well, with at least a few hours of direct sunlight daily. In warmer regions, the strawberry can be shaded during the hottest hours of the day. However, when grown without direct sunlight for at least a few hours a day, the strawberry tends to produce few strawberries.

Ground

The soil must be well drained, fertile and rich in organic matter. The ideal soil pH is between 5.5 and 6.5.

Irrigation

It must be irrigated in order to keep the soil always moist, but without being soaked.

Planting

Strawberries are usually planted from late summer to late autumn, depending on the region’s climate (earlier in colder regions and later in warmer regions). Long-day cultivars, grown in temperate regions, are also planted in the spring.

The strawberry is planted through seedlings from the strawberry stolons (or stolons). Stolon or stolon is a creeping stem that eventually grows by launching roots and shoots, thus giving rise to new plants. Buy seedlings from suppliers at the beginning of the plantation and in the following years obtain seedlings from the stalks of these plants. Cut stolons to remove the seedlings when they are well developed, cutting in half the length between the shoots (the seedlings) in each plant. Some horticulturists wait for the seedlings to take root before separating them from the mother plant, others cut as soon as the shoots in the stolons have 3 to 5 leaves. The spacing can be 20 to 35 cm between the plants.

Strawberries can also be propagated from seeds, but this method is seldom used, as seedlings from seeds hardly have the characteristics of the parent plants. In addition, seedlings from seeds take much longer to grow and start to bear fruit. Seed propagation is mostly used by people interested in obtaining new varieties of strawberry.

Being a small plant with relatively shallow roots, the strawberry tree can be easily grown in pots and planters. Strawberries are also widely grown in hydroponic systems.

Cultivation

In flower beds it is necessary to cover the soil with mulch or with an opaque plastic with holes for the strawberry tree, to help control the invasive plants and to prevent the strawberries from being in direct contact with the soil. Studies have shown that strawberries grown in mulch soil have a higher concentration of sugar, flavonoids and anthocyanins, compared to those grown in soil covered with black plastic.

If new seedlings are not needed, cut the stalks as soon as they start to appear to induce the plant to produce more strawberries.

Harvest

Strawberries should be picked when they are ripe, daily or every other day. Harvest by cutting the stem, without touching the strawberry.

Strawberries are perennial plants, but they produce well only for two or three years. So, replace plants every two or three years (some horticulturists replace plants every year).

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