Growing strawberries indoors is a great way to get succulent, juicy berries in plentiful supply—all without the many worries accompanying growing the fruit outdoors. When growing strawberries indoors, you’ll eliminate the risk of those pesky critters ruining your crop while also providing yourself better control over their growing environment. Although strawberries aren’t always easy to grow, they are very much worth the effort, and with just a bit of effort, you’ll be able to experience the flavor of a freshly picked strawberry. This article will look at all aspects of growing strawberries indoors and guide you to growing your own delicious fruit.
Growing Strawberries Indoors Overview
- Strawberries need a lot of light, at least 12+ per day. Most indoor gardens will need to supplement with a grow light, especially in winter.
- Strawberries can be started from seeds or can be planted as seedlings to speed up the process. If using seeds, make sure to freeze them for about 2 weeks before planting to simulate winter.
- There are many strawberry varieties to choose from, but most have similar care needs. Look for smaller-sized varieties to maximize indoor grow space.
- Water when the soil is dry to the touch, and feed with a balanced fertilizer monthly.
- Most varieties will need to be hand pollinated in order to bear fruit.
- Harvesting is easy, simply snip the strawberries from the plant. Don’t pull them as this can damage the plant.
Types Of Strawberry Plants
To start, many people don’t realize that there is a huge variety of different strawberry plants. In fact, there are 103 different varieties, that’s a lot of options!
Fortunately, most common varieties will have similar care instructions, so the rest of this article will likely apply to you. The one major difference you might notice is how often your plant bears fruits. Some varieties only produce a single yield, while others might produce 2 or more. Check the variety you have to see how much fruit you should expect over a growing season.
In general, strawberries are divided into the following three groups
These varieties of strawberries will produce one large crop of harvestable berries per year. This will typically be in June, hence the name.
That said, this category can further be refined into early-season, mid-season, and late-season berries. This lines up with when they will bear fruit. A savvy gardener can get consistent harvests all season long by mixing varieties by harvest time.
This variety will typically produce 2 harvests per year. This will tend to be at the beginning of the season in spring and at the end during late summer.
These harvests will also tend to be about 1/2 the size of a similarly sized June-bearing plant. You’ll still end up with about the same amount of harvestable berries, it will just be broken up over multiple harvests.
These varietues of berries are not affected by the length of day meaning they can continue to flower in winter. This makes them the ideal berry for indoor growing, especially in areas that experience harsh winters.
What’s more, they also don’t produce runners and tend to grow quite compact. This only further makes them a great choice for indoor growing.
What Strawberry Variety Should I Grow Indoors?
Going off the above, Day neutral berries are the obvious choice. In that group, there are several options, but our favorite is the Albion Strawberry.
This is a relatively new hybrid that produces sweet, large fruit all season long. It’s also resistant to many common strawberry diseases which makes it quite easy to grow. If you’re just getting started then it’s a great pick to begin with.
Choosing Your Pot
There are a variety of pots and containers that are great for growing strawberries indoors. Traditional ground containers work, but many gardeners choose to use hanging baskets to grow their berries. Strawberries have a slight vine-like behavior, so it’s easy to see why hanging baskets are a natural choice. The key, regardless of your container choice, is to ensure that the pot is large enough to give your strawberry plant room to grow.
For size, container-grown strawberries don’t need that large of a container. Choose one that is around 8″ for a single plant, or 12-14″ for growing 2-3 plants. This should give your plant enough room to grow and produce fruits. Using too small of a container can stunt the growth of the plant which will lead to fewer fruits.
Soil For Strawberries
Strawberries, like many other types of berries, prefer soil that is slightly acidic. Look to get soil that is in the 4.5-5.0 PH range as this is ideal for berry plants.
The easiest way to do this is to purchase an acidic soil mix. These mixes are pre-made to already be slightly acidic and are a great way to get started with minimal effort. If you’re interested in learning more about soil PH (and some tips to make yours more acidic) you can check out our full article on the topic here.
Planting Your Strawberries
Like most plants, you have the option of growing from seeds or starting with a seedling. Starting with a seedling is by far the easier choice, but starting with seeds is always a fun challenge.
Seedlings can be bought in the spring at most hardware stores or nurseries. You’ll want to transplant them to their permanent home once you get them as their original container is usually too small to promote long-term growth. In general, look for fruits to be ready to harvest in roughly 4-6 weeks when growing in proper conditions.
Starting from seeds is a bit more challenging, but is cheaper in the long run. One unique thing about strawberry seeds is that it’s recommended to freeze them for 1-2 weeks before planting. This simulates the winter, and will “trick” them into thinking it’s spring when you plant them. Specific care instructions after should be listed on the seed packet.
After freezing, keep the soil warm and moist, and the seeds will start to germinate after a few weeks. Going the seed route, it can take up to a year before the plant begins to bear fruit, but it’s well worth the effort. On average though, it will be a bit quicker at around 6 months.
For proper growth, strawberries need at least 10-12 hours of sunlight each day, although a little more won’t hurt. Strawberries can be placed anywhere inside the home as long as they have proper amounts of sunlight and aren’t exposed to cold temperatures.
Natural sunlight is best, however, indoor growing lights are available for those unable to attain the lighting naturally. When growing with lights, look to get close to 14 hours to offset the absence of natural light. In winter, when sunlight is naturally less intense, grow lights become essential if you wish for your plant to continue to grow.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of strawberry growth and thus is one of the major causes of failed plants. Lack of sunlight will lead to a sickly-looking plant, possibly one that will not bear fruits. If you’re having trouble growing strawberries, it’s more often than not due to a lack of light.
This is also the first thing you should make sure you have planned when growing strawberries indoors. I want to specifically call this out as it is the biggest reason why strawberries fail. If you can get enough light, then the rest of the care is fairly easy.
Watering & Feeding Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants should be lightly watered every 2-3 days. Keep the soil moist, but don’t soak it. The key is to maintain a slightly moist soil while not overwatering. You can test the soil by sticking your finger in about 1-2” deep. If this top layer of soil is dry to the touch then there’s a good chance your plant needs a little more water.
You’ll want a few days between waterings to give the soil a chance to dry out. Strawberries like water, but don’t want to sit in water-logged soil. As mentioned, make sure you provide proper drainage to prevent over-watering, as this can kill a plant quickly.
For fertilizing, it’s generally recommended to do so roughly once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer. This helps keep the soil rich in nutrients so your berries grow optimally. If possible, it’s best to go with an organic fertilizer. You can also use delayed-release fertilizers which can last several months. There are also specific varieties of fertilizers made for fruits, these can be a good option because they take a lot of the guesswork out.
Hand Pollinating Strawberries
One unique aspect of growing strawberries indoors is the need to hand-pollinate them. When outside, the wind or animals will do this, but indoors you will usually need to fill this role.
Fortunately, this is very easy. Wait until the plant flowers, then take a soft cloth, or even your finger, and gently move the pollen at the edges of the flower to the very center. You can also gently rub two flowers together. This will simulate being outside in nature which will ensure that your plant pollinates and produces fruit. Do this periodically as you see new flowers begin to appear.
Once the strawberries are a bright red color they are ready to harvest! This will generally be about 4-6 weeks after the flower has blossomed.
To harvest, simply snip the fruit off the vine. You want to snip them rather than pull as pulling can damage the plant. Depending on your plant variety, this harvesting period will last for around 3 weeks before your plant is done producing.
Growing Strawberries Indoors
Strawberries are a popular choice for gardens as they are easy to grow and don’t take up a ton of space. If you can nail their light requirements then the rest is smooth sailing. Let us know if you grow strawberries, or other fruits, indoors and any tips you have! We love to hear from our readers and fellow gardeners.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Strawberries Take To Grow?
An existing plant will likely produce fruit in 4-6 weeks. When growing from seeds, expect 6-12 months,
How Much Light Do Strawberries Need?
Strawberries need 10+ hours of light per day. If using grow lights, look to get an additional 2-4 hours per day.
How Often Do You Water Strawberries?
Water your strawberries every 2-3 days on average. This can change based on the growing environment, so check the soil first and water when the top 1-2 inches are dry