IN NORTH FLORIDA, PLANT BARE ROOT STRAWBERRY PLANTS IN THE FALL, NOT THE
I just found your site and I just have to say thank you. I always read about other places and it's just nice to have a local who knows the climate. I'm pretty new to gardening -- last spring was my first and now I want to do more. My question is about strawberries. I really wanted to plant some but it looks like I waited too long. What do you think? They have some seedlings at Home Depot. They are the everbearing Quinault kind. Thank you so much for your help.
-- Jerralyn K., Santa Rosa Beach
Hello Jerralyn, thanks for writing to me. I'm happy you found my blog. Before I answer your question, let me also say thanks to everyone who has contacted me to let me know what you are growing and where you live, and for subscribing to my blog.
Now, back to the strawberries.
I really appreciate your question because I saw the same strawberries at Kmart in Niceville today. I stopped by to pick up a few 9-packs of broccoli, which I put in the garden just before it got dark this evening (I should have planned ahead and started seeds about two months ago but I didn’t).
In north Florida, bare root strawberry plants are planted in the fall (Oct. 15 – Nov. 15) and the berries are harvested in the spring (March, April and into May). The bare root plants establish their roots in 60 days and grow full size over the winter (they stand up to the cold quite nicely). The plants are treated as annuals – we pull them up after they stop fruiting and replace them with new stock the following fall. Our summers are too hot and wet for strawberries.
So, if you are a front-yard farmer thinking about ordering bare root strawberry plants from a seed catalog this spring, don’t. Wait until fall (I placed my order for Sweet Charlie strawberry plants last August from Willis Orchards and they were delivered in November, just in time for planting).
In north Florida, you will have the most success (the biggest yields) with “short day” varieties of strawberries (such as Sweet Charlie), which produce berries in the short days of spring here in our part of the world, before the heat sets in. “Everbearing” varieties don’t do nearly as well in Florida. They are unaffected by day length and are generally better suited for cooler climates.
The Quinault strawberry plants we see now in the garden centers were bare root strawberry plants that were potted up in the fall, so if you transplant them to your garden, or simply grow them in their containers, they should produce strawberries this spring. They may not do as well as the short day varieties but you will certainly have some fresh berries to feast on.
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