Perennial: Hardy in zones 5 to 9
Time to sow: Spring to early summer, fall
Light conditions: Full sun to partial shade
Uses: Culinary, Medicinal, Tea
Wild strawberries are perennial plants native to the Northern hemisphere. The plants are everbearing and will produce berries up until the first frost hits. The red strawberries are not only delicious but also very aromatic. When walking through the woods you can often smell wild strawberries before you can spot them. The berries are smaller than the common strawberry but have a much more intense flavour. Wild strawberries can be found in forests, wetlands, meadows, and alongside streams.
Starting Strawberries from Seeds
Wild strawberries are easy to start from seeds. It’s as simple as surface sowing the seeds in a pot that is out of direct sunlight. You can use a standard potting soil. Water the soil thoroughly before surface sowing the seeds. Use a mist sprayer every day to mist the seeds and keep them moist. It may be as little as two weeks until they will start to germinate.
Germination can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. Keep the soil moist and never let it dry out too much. Once the seeds have germinated you can start to cut back on the misting. The soil should just be moist. Be careful not to overdue the watering, but don’t let it dry out completely. It the soil is too moist it can kill the fragile seedlings.
The wild strawberry is a hardy perennial that will do very well once established. If started in the early spring from seed they will produce berries that very year. It is best to sow the seeds indoors in late winter if you want to get a head start for the spring. Once the risk of frost is past it is safe to transplant outside the plants are somewhat cold hardy. Once the plants are established they will come up in late winter/early spring the following year. Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. Strawberries can survive in shade but the require full sun to produce a full crop of berries. The plants are hardy in zones 3-9. You should plant them in moist, fertile soil mixed with plenty of sphagnum peat moss. The peat moss will help maintain moisture in the soil. In the wild strawberries are often found growing among peat moss in wet areas. Water your plants once or twice a week. Watering them too much may reduce the amount of berries they produce. If conditions are very dry you will want to water them more often, but let them dry out somewhat between waterings.
Growing Strawberries in Containers
Strawberry plants will do very well in containers. The plants can grow close together and they don’t have much of a root system. If growing them in terracotta strawberry pots it might be better to used glazed ones as they won’t dry out as fast. Plastic containers are cheap and work well for the plants as it keeps the moisture in. If using a plastic container it’s better to go for a wider one rather than deeper as the root system doesn’t go too deep. Place your containers or pots in a sunny location so the plants can gather enough energy to produce berries.
Growing Strawberries Indoors
Strawberry plants are shade tolerant, but if the don’t get enough sun the will not produce many berries if any at all. If you decide to grow them indoors I recommend using a wild variety. Also, you should place them in the sunniest location in your house. When the flowers bloom you will have to use a q-tip to exchange the pollen to each flower to produce berries. Growing strawberries indoors is better for getting a head start on the season and than transitioning them outside once the risk of frost has passed.
Strawberry Plant Care
Strawberry plants do not need much fertilizer if you plant them in rich soil. I recommend adding a thick layer of wood chips on top of the soil around your plants. This will help keep the soil moist. You can add compost each year and rock dust that contains lots of trace minerals. This will make the plants healthy as well as us when we eat the berries.
Strawberry leaves can be used to make a great medicinal tea. The leaves can be used either fresh or dry, but nothing in between those stages. When drying, the leaves go through a phase that produces chemicals that can irritate the body. When they are fresh or fully dried it is fine to use them. The medicinal effects can help by protecting against eye degeneration, arthritis and gout, high blood pressure, heart disease, improving cognitive function and treatment for diarrhea. The tea is also good for dental care. The tannins in the tea help to get rid of plaque on our teeth.
The Berry Grower’s Companion.
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