What to Do with Strawberry Plants in Fall

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What to Do with Strawberry Plants in Fall

Perennial Strawberry Plants: Get Them Ready for Year Two 

If you planted strawberries in a grow bag in spring, you can keep them there (if the bag is still in good condition) or plant them in the ground this fall. If you keep them in their current container, be sure you add compost, mulch, and fertilizer in early spring to create the nutritious soil strawberries need to deliver the best harvest.

Even after the strawberry plants have stopped producing, usually when summer temperatures get hot, don’t let them dry out. Keep them watered.

Where to Plant Strawberries

Not sure where to plant them? You have options.

Heel In the Strawberry Plants

This is a temporary home for your strawberry plants that will give you time to figure out whether you’ll grow them in the ground or in a container or bag next spring. Heeled in, they are easier to remove. 

Create a ridge of soil in the ground, lay the roots at an angle against the ridge of soil at a 45 degree angle, add soil over the roots to cover them. Add mulch over the top of that to winter them in. (You can do this with shrubs and trees too.) Water them weekly until the freeze is on.

Grow Strawberries in Bags 

If you grew your strawberries in growing bags, you can keep them there to overwinter and grow them in the bags again next spring. 

Lay the bags with the strawberry plants on a table or bench in the garage or any protected space that gets cool but doesn’t freeze. Water each plant weekly when soil is dry. The growing bags should last 2+ years this way – and they’ll be ready to hang outside again next season.

You can also place the bags on the ground and cover them with a good layer mulch in Zones 7+. (Plastic may degrade in the soil depending on the season’s weather conditions.)

Moving Strawberries from Bags to Grow in the Ground

Gently bring up each plant from the inside of the bags from top to bottom. Poke the plant back into the bag and then remove it gently. Amend the soil with compost like well-rotted manure. Strawberries like rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Water them weekly until the freeze is on.

In Zones 6 and lower, plant strawberries in the ground in September. You can plant them 12-15” apart (18-24” is ideal if you have the space). In arid locations like Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, keep watering the plants weekly even in winter when dry conditions exist. 

Propagating from Existing Plants

Pinch off the runners/off-shoots to help the plants get better established. You can keep the best runners (cut the stem close to the mother plant) to replant so you’ll always have plants in year two production (the best strawberry crop year)! Keep 1-2 inches of the runner/baby plant.