University of Maryland Extension

Small Fruits

Planting Small Fruits

close-up of blueberries  close-up of raspberries

Many small fruits—strawberries, currants, blackberries, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries—are well-suited to Maryland’s growing conditions.  Small fruit plants are generally long-lived. If you’re planning to grow them, pay special attention to cultivar selection and site preparation. Cultivars should be adapted to your soil and climatic conditions. If possible, select cultivars with the fewest insect and disease problems.

Buy the best nursery stock available from reputable nurseries that guarantee their plants to be true to name, of high quality, and packed and shipped correctly. Place your order early, specifying cultivar, size, grade of plants desired and preferred time of shipment. It is best to have the plants arrive when you are ready to set them out and have the planting site prepared well in advance of planting.

When your order arrives, unpack the bundles and inspect the plants. The roots should be moist and have a bright, fresh appearance. Shriveled roots indicate that the plants have been allowed to freeze or dry-out in storage or transit.  Such plants seldom survive. Plant roots must be kept moist and free from freezing temperatures at all times.

If the plants cannot be set out immediately, they should be kept in cold storage by wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag with some holes cut for ventilation and storing them at a temperature just above freezing. Moistened peat moss, sawdust or shredded newspaper can be used to keep roots from drying. Strawberry plants, in small quantities, may be held in the home refrigerator for a few days. If refrigerated storage is not available, remove the plants from the bundle, and carefully plant them in a trench of moist soil in a shaded location (this is called “heeling-in”). Pack the soil firmly around the roots to eliminate all air pockets and to prevent the roots from drying out.


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