University of Maryland Extension

Strawberries - Selection, Planting, Training

ripening strawberries

Selection

Recommended strawberry varieties for Maryland home gardens

June-bearing
EarliglowVery early maturing variety. Fruit size is small to medium and highly flavored. The standard for early varieties.
AnnapolisMedium to large size fruit produced at the same time or just after Earliglow. Firm, light red fruit with good flavor.
CavendishVery large, firm fruit with good flavor. Mid-season harvest. Rated very high in Maryland field trials.
DelmarvelHas Earliglow parentage. Highly colored, conical-shaped fruits. Medium to large size, but bears for a short time in relation to other varieties.
JewelLarge, bright red, firm berries. Susceptible to verticillium and red stele.
AllstarProductive mid- to late season cultivar with very large elongated, flavorful berries.
PrimetimeHas Earliglow parentage. Fruits are quite large, but not highly colored. A high yielding variety in Maryland field trials.
LatestarVigorous plants with medium to large size fruit.
Day-NeutralBoth of these varieties will give a light harvest over a longer period than the June-bearing varieties. They will generally stop bearing when the weather becomes hot.
TristarUniversity of Maryland release. Sweet, medium size fruit. Good disease resistance. Most productive in the fall.
TributeVigorous, disease-resistant plants with medium size berries. Somewhat acidic flavor.

Planting

General Information

Strawberry 

Min. distance
between rows (ft.)

Between
plants (ft.)

Annual yield per plant
(lbs.)

Yrs. from planting
to 1st crop

Av. life
span (yrs)

June-bearing

         3

          

    2

     1-2   

    

 2

     4

Everbearing

       1

    1

  0.5

  1       2

Characteristics of a good site for strawberries:

  • Sunny location;
  • Enriched with organic matter; and
  • Well-drained soil, as strawberries will not tolerate “wet feet.” If only poorly drained soils are available, build a raised bed.

Planting

Daughter plants or “runners” can become rampant, so you may want to consider growing strawberries in borders,containers, or restricted beds. Set out field-grown plants in March or early April when the soil begins to warm. Tissue-cultured plants are grown in a greenhouse and are more cold-sensitive, so plant them only after the last frost date. If they arrive early, store them in a refrigerator until planting time.

Trim roots to within 4- to 6-inches of the crown and set plants with half the crown below the soil level (see diagram below) with roots fanned out. Keep new plants well-watered. Broadcast fertilize when foliage is dry, and brush residual off leaves. Once plants are in the ground, do not disturb shallow roots by working fertilizer into the soil.

strawberry planting depth
Setting strawberry plants: a) too deep; b) correct; c) too shallow; d) cut roots here before planting

Training

June-bearing varieties typically are trained using either of two systems:

  • Hill system—Space plants 1 ft. x 1 ft. and remove all runners to encourage more flower stalks.
  • Matted row system—“Mother” plants are spaced 18 to 24 in. apart in rows at least 36 in. apart. Runners are allowed to root freely in all directions and fill in with “daughter” plants. Keep beds narrow (12 in.) if possible, to maximize light penetration. Plantings will be most productive on the edges. At renovation time thin daughter plants to 6 in. between plants—covering the ground but not too crowded. 

strawberry planting system matted row

Matted row system (2 'mothers', 8 'daughters')

strawberry planting system matted row filled in
         Matted row system (filled in)

 

For June-bearers, flowers are removed the entire first season. This sacrifices early fruit production to encourage strong growth, runner production, and winter survival.

Day-neutral strawberries do not runner profusely, so are planted more closely—about 5 to 9 inches apart in hills. Remove flower buds and runners through early July of the first year and then allow plants to fruit. They can be treated as annuals, or mulched and overwintered to produce a second year before replacement.

 

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