Strawberries, Fragaria x ananassa, are quite easy to grow. They are perennial, winter hardy, and will thrive in full sunshine, as long as the soil is fertile and well drained. Healthy plants will produce an abundance of berries for three to four years, after which they should be replaced.

There are two different types of strawberries; standard (June bearing) and everbearing. Because of an intense summer, most growers plant June bearing. You will want to consider how you will use the berries in deciding which varieties you want to grow. The standard types will provide you with a large crop all at once for jams or freezing, and tend to be the better quality berries. The everbearing will produce throughout the summer for desserts and snacking. The culture is essentially the same for either. Different varieties are listed below.

Planting time is determined by your planting zone. In mild winter areas, it is best to plant in the fall, giving you a crop the first spring. Flower buds should be kept picked off during the first month or so to allow the plant to establish itself and develop strength for a big crop.

The fruit grows close to the ground on stems in groups of three. Strawberries are not really berries or fruit, but rather the enlarged ends of the flower’s stamens. The strawberry has seeds on the outside skin rather than having an outer skin around the seed. Typically they do not reproduce by seeds, but rather from runners. The green to white fruit turn to a rich red color at maturity. When the strawberry ripens, the petals of the flower fall off and all that remains is the green stem or calyx.

Chandler, the leading strawberry variety sold in supermarkets, is the best variety to plant in South and Central Texas. Unfortunately, Chandler is not always readily available in local nurseries. Sequoia, an older variety with good quality berries for gardening, is the most commonly sold variety in local nurseries and Sequoia will suffice if you cannot get Chandler. Douglas is another good variety for fall planting. Actually, many other spring-bearing strawberry varieties will also work satisfactorily for the garden, following the fall-planting system.

While clayey or caliche soil can be amended with Lady Bug Revitalizer, most gardeners will be more successful using raised beds filled with Lady Bug Hill Country Garden Soil or Rose Magic. If pots are being used, Lady Bug Vortex Potting Soil is recommended. Adding about 2 cups of a Lady Bug 8-2-4 per every 25 feet of row will get the plants off to a good start. Then apply Lady Bug Flower Power every three weeks after the plants are actively growing. Use 3/4 cup of water daily for the first two weeks after planting if the weather is hot and dry. Water infrequently as needed during the winter. Provide winter protection from severe winter freezes. This may be accomplished with organic mulches such as hay or commercial grow covers. Protection must be provided when the temperatures drop into the teens.

Only allow a few runners per plant, after which additional starts are cut off. Everbearing Strawberries should not be allowed to produce runners until the mother plant is exhausted, and you wish to create plants for future use. Strawberry plants need to be set carefully. The crown must be above the soil level, and the uppermost roots should be 1/4 inch below the soil level. A heavy mulch of sawdust, grass clippings, pine straw, or Lady Bug Sylvan Formula should then be added to prevent weeds and to conserve moisture. Everbearers will need an inch of water each week during growing season. Flower buds should be kept picked off during the first month or so to allow the plant to establish itself and develop strength for a big crop.

When making your choice of varieties, be aware that some may be more susceptible to viruses than others, and therefore may be better for one area than another. Strawberries are subject to fruit rot (botrytis), root rot (red stele), and fungus (verticillium wilt). Aphids and spider mites may be a problem, so the plants should be dusted or sprayed to control these. Slugs and snails may ravage your plants, so controlling them is also very important. Pesticides and fungicides should never be applied to the plants once the fruit has set. ALWAYS read the package carefully before using any chemicals in your garden or elsewhere!!!

Fall planting of strawberries works well throughout Texas. Colder winters will reduce plant growth and subsequent berry production, but with good care, a good spring crop can be harvested in most years.

Everbearing Strawberries

Brighton
Large flowers and berries, good in hanging baskets
Chandler
Large, juicy berries better grown in dryer climates
Fern
Medium sized sweet berries, good for canning and freezing
Fort Laramie
Large berries, excellent yield, very hardy
Hecker
Small flavorful berries, very hardy
Lassen
Medium berries, 1 spring and 1 fall crop, good for freezing
Ogallala
Hybrid with wild strawberries, early producer
Ozark
Beauty Large berries, mildly sweet, widely adaptable
Quinault
Large tasty berries, my favorite
Rainier
Large berries, a Northwest favorite
Selva
Produces late, but heavy, for dryer areas
Sequoia
Medium, delicious berries, heavy producer
Tillikum
Small berries, but heavy producer
Tristar
Large berries, flavorful, good producer

June Bearing Strawberries

Benton
Medium berries, very flavorful
Douglas
Medium berries, heavy producer, very hardy
Hood
Large berries, better for jams or fresh use
Northwest
Big beautiful berries, needs good drainage
Olympus
Medium berries, vigorous grower
Puget beauty
Medium berries, very sweet, second light crop later
Shuksan
Medium berries, good in alkaline soil areas
Tioga
Medium berries for freezing, for dryer areas
Totem
Medium berries, very flavorful