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How to grow strawberry at home

Strawberries are the only fruit that wears its seeds on the outside.

Timing

Sprouts in 2-3 weeks. Harvest from Year 1+ on.

Full sun

Equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day].

Care

Intermediate. You’ll sprout, thin, prune, and pollinate.

Best Strawberry varieties to grow inside.

Want to grow strawberry plants indoors? Yes, it’s possible. In fact, growing them indoors may be an easier option for some people.

Alpine

Esteemed for their sweet and delicate flavor. These berries are expensive not because they are hard to grow, but because the plants are not very productive

Elan F1

One of the best varieties for hanging baskets and containers. It will produce a heavy crop of large, very sweet fruits with higher than average sugar levels and a vitamin C content up to 50% higher than other ever bearers.

Albion

It is known for its fruits, which have a uniformly conical shape, bright red color, reliable firmness, and surprisingly sweet taste.

Portola

Its fruit is lighter in color than most ever bearers and should be harvested before fully red. It has good flavor with a large crop.

Best Setup for Strawberry Plants

You’ll need:

Planter: 

Ceramic Self Watering Planter (preferred) or pot that is at least 6″ / 1 quart.

Soil: 

Standard Potting Mix

Plant Food:

Balanced Blend. This should be equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10)

Grow Light:

A strong grow light that can give the equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day].

Jump to: Our product recommendations

Preparing your Planter & Watering Schedule for Strawberry

Strawberry plants do well in moist soil conditions. If the soil dries out completely the roots will die back and it will be tough for the plant to recover. On the other hand, if the roots are exposed to standing water for too long, they can rot.

A Ceramic Self Watering Planter filled with a standard potting mix self-regulates to keep the soil at consistent moisture for your plant to thrive (and no watering guesswork for you). 

To set one up:

preparing your planter
  1. Fill up the planter with dry soil from the bag, gently tamping down the top.
  2. Dump the soil into a large mixing bowl and add water until the soil is moist, but not sopping wet (about ½ Cup)
  3. Mix in of the Balanced Blend Plant Food.

If you are using a regular pot instead, it should be a little bit bigger (at least 6″ / 1 quart and will need drainage holes to prevent it from being over watered. Let the top of the soil dry out between watering.

Starting your Strawberry: Seed vs Propagate vs Nursery Plant

New Strawberry plants can be started from seed, cuttings, or purchased as bare-root plants. We prefer to start from bare-root plants – as it gives us a 6-month head start on harvesting our first strawberries.

How to Plant Strawberry seeds

How to plant strawberry seeds

Strawberry grows quickly from seed. Plant 1 site in a 6″ / 1-quart container. In larger containers, space sites 4″ apart. For each site press 4 seeds into the surface. Keep the soil warm ( 40-60°F, ideally 60°F). Sprouts typically appear in 20 days but can be as quick as 7 days or as long as 30 days depending on your conditions. 

How to Transplant Strawberry

how to transplant strawberry

Many nurseries ship Strawberry as “Bare-Root” – this means the roots are not in soil and the plant is dormant. It’s a bit strange to receive something that looks like a bare stick, but it’s much easier to make sure you’re not bringing any pests in. To transplant your bare root Strawberry plant:

  1. Prepare your pot by filling it ½ with soil and shaping it like a cone
  2. Prepare the plant roots by trim any that seem dead, mushy, or excessively long, then shape it like a cone to fit on your soil.
  3. Check the fit so that the highest roots are just below the rim of the pot. Adjust the soil as needed. 
  4. Once the fit is good, fill the pot up to the highest roots, lightly tapping the soil down as you go. Finish up by giving it a good deep watering.

If you received your plant in a nursery container with soil, the process is much the same. Once it arrives, gently pull it out to check on the roots (adding water can help if it’s dry).  If they’re not hitting the edge and there’s plenty of soil, then resist the urge to transplant it into a bigger pot. If the roots are crowded and starting to circle around the pot, then you’ll need to repot it. Use a slightly larger pot (2 to 3 inches larger in diameter). Fill the bottom with enough new soil so that the top of the nursery pot lines up with the top of the permanent container. Finish by filling around the edges and watering thoroughly. 

Where to grow your Strawberry plants

While you should take advantage of the sun (it’s free and perfect for plants) there are limited circumstances where indoor natural light is enough for Strawberry plants to grow well. A very bright window can cut your grow light needs in half, but if you want to grow lots of Strawberry, you’ll still need one. For an introduction to grow lights, head over to our post on grow lights for indoor gardeners. We’ve also got a buying guide for screw in types, but to keep things simple in this guide, we’ll just provide directions for the 24W Screw in Bulb by Sansi, which we think is a good middle-of-the-road option.

how bright should your grow light be for strawberry plants

How bright should your grow light be? 

Strawberry plants need the equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sunlight [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day] to grow their best. In order to provide an equivalent amount with a grow light, it needs to be pretty bright! The 24W Sansi bulb should be placed 6 inches away from the top of the plant. This will give your PPFD (the standard measure of brightness) of 500 μmol/m²/s.

How many hours per day do your Strawberry plants need under a grow light?

Strawberry plants are known as “short-day,” meaning they’ll develop faster if they sense over 12 hours of darkness. We want them to progress into flowering as soon as possible, so we recommend setting up a timer to leave it on for only 10 hours per day.

Strawberry Plants Need Warm Temps with an Annual Chill

Strawberry plants are native to northern climates and need to rest each winter – brought on by shorter days and colder temperature. Plants need to be in between 32°F and 45°F for 200-400 hours in order to internally build the cellular structures that will become fruits. When your indoor plant starts to lose its leaves in fall, place it outside for a few months until you meet the  “chilling requirement” (but bring them in if temps drop below 30°F for longer than a day). For the rest of the year, they are perfectly happy with a wide range of typical indoor temperatures. 

Week 2-3: Check for Sprouts

You could see seedlings in as little as 7 days (though 20 days is more typical). If it’s been 30 days and you still don’t have any sprouts, it’s likely that your setup is too cold.

Week 4: Thin Your Seedlings

how to thin strawberry

Thin your planter to only have 1 seedling per site –  leaving the largest plant. If you are using the recommended planter (at least 6″ / 1 quart) this will mean you’ve got 1 plant after thinning.  By getting rid of the smaller seedlings, you’re allowing the biggest and strongest one to flourish by reducing its competition for water, food, and space. 

If your seedlings are under 1 inch, stretching out, or folding over, it’s likely that they don’t have quite enough light.

Year 1+: How to Pollinate Your Strawberry Flowers

how to pollinate your strawberry flowers

In order for a flower to turn into a strawberry, it needs to be pollinated. Outdoors, insects and wind move pollen around. Without those, the indoor gardener sometimes needs to step in. To help them out, wait until the flowers open then just give them a slight shake or “rub the nose” of the flower. After the flowers form, it generally takes 4 to 6 weeks for strawberries to reach their full, ripe size.

Year 1+: How to Harvest Strawberries

Strawberries are easy – just wait until they are bright red! Strawberries won’t ripen after they are harvested, so you’ll want to wait until they’re perfectly ripe on the plant. Oftentimes there will be some less ripe ones in the same bunch – so just be careful to not disturb them when you are harvesting the good ones.  

Year 5-6: End of Life

Individual strawberry plants can live for 5-6 years, but throughout their lives, they will produce “runners” which can keep the patch alive indefinitely. 

Shop This Blog

The right supplies can take the guesswork out of caring for your plants – and turn care from a daily to weekly routine. Through our grow tests, we’ve found these products to produce the best indoor Strawberry (and also have simple maintenance).  Plants are adaptable and can grow in many different conditions, so they are by no means necessary if you already have other supplies.

Best Containers for Strawberry: Ceramic Self Watering Planters

Plants thrive on consistent moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged. A semi-porous ceramic self regulates ideal conditions. Our favorite is the COSWIP planter. Runner up is XS Self Watering Planter by Wet Pot.

Best Soil for Strawberry: Standard Potting Mix

Strawberry likes a rich and moist root zone – so you are best off with a standard potting mix – we like this Organic Mix by Espoma

Best Nutrients for Strawberry: Balanced Blend

Strawberry likes nutrients that are equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10). For a Balanced Blend we recommend: Dr Earth All Purpose

Best Light for Strawberry: DIY or Soltech

There is a very small chance that you have the bright windows needed to grow these without a grow light. If you are looking for a higher-end option – we love the Aspect Light by Soltech. For a more affordable option, a DIY setup using a 24W Screw-in Bulb by Sansi with a Clamp Light and Mechanical Timer works well too.  Check out our complete guide on a DIY setup for less than $40 or our buying guide for screw in bulbs.

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