A Guide to the Early Growth Stages of Strawberry Plants

Interested in the early stages of strawberry plant growth? As someone who loves gardening and has strawberries in my own garden, I understand the importance of understanding the early growth stages of strawberry plants. These stages are crucial in determining the yield and quality of your harvest. In this article, I will share my knowledge and experience about the early growth stages of strawberry plants and provide valuable insights for fellow gardeners.

The first stage of strawberry plant growth is the germination stage. This is when the strawberry seeds start to sprout and develop roots. The germination process usually takes between 7 to 14 days, depending on the temperature and moisture level of the soil. As a gardener, it’s important to ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged during this stage, as excessive moisture can lead to seed rot, halting your growing season before it even starts.

The second stage of strawberry plant growth is the vegetative stage. During this stage, the plants develop leaves and stems and experience rapid growth. The vegetative stage typically lasts for around 30 to 45 days, depending on the variety of the plant. To ensure healthy growth, it’s important to provide the plants with adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients during this stage. This will not only support their growth but also contribute to fruit production down the line.

Life Cycle of Strawberry Plants

Strawberry plants go through several stages, especially in the first year. These stages include the germination stage, vegetative stage, flowering stage, and fruiting stage.

Germination Stage

During the germination stage, strawberry plants start as tiny strawberry seeds. When the conditions are right, the seeds absorb water and begin to grow. The first thing that emerges from the seed is the root, which grows down into the soil. Simultaneously, the shoot grows up towards the surface and develops its first leaves.

Vegetative Stage

During the vegetative stage, strawberry plants focus on growing leaves and roots. The roots continue to grow deeper into the soil, while the leaves grow larger and more numerous. Adequate water, well-draining soil, and nutrients are essential during this stage to support the plants’ growth. Choosing soil with good organic fertilizer or compost-rich sandy loam soil can work wonders for strawberry seedlings.

Flowering Stage

Once the strawberry roots have grown enough, they enter the flowering stage. This is when they produce flower buds. The flowers are small and white, growing in clusters. To produce fruit, the flowers need to be pollinated by bees and other insects. It may surprise you to learn that strawberry fruits start out as actual flowers before they mature and become edible.

Fruiting Stage

After pollination, the flowers enter the fruiting stage. The small green strawberries that develop from the flowers slowly turn red and become sweeter as they mature. When they are ripe, they can be harvested and enjoyed.

Early Growth Stages


When planting early strawberry plants, it’s important to choose a location that receives plenty of direct sunlight. The soil should also be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Conducting a soil test before planting can determine if any additional amendments are necessary to provide the best growing conditions for your strawberry plants, resulting in healthy and robust growth.

Soil Requirements

Strawberry plants require soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Before planting, adding compost or aged manure to the soil is crucial for providing the necessary nutrients and ensuring strong and healthy growth. This can even be achieved with the no-dig gardening method.


During the early growth stages of strawberry plants, it’s important to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Deeply watering the plants once a week is usually sufficient, but adjust the frequency depending on weather conditions. Be cautious of overhead watering, as it can lead to fungal diseases. Some gardeners use straw mulch to help keep the roots moist, but it’s essential to choose clean and pesticide-free straw to prevent diseases.

Light Requirements

Strawberry plants require plenty of direct sunlight to thrive. Selecting a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day is crucial. Insufficient sunlight can result in leggy and weak plants, impacting their overall growth and yield.

Runner Plants

As you observe the early growth stages of strawberry plants, you’ll notice the formation of runner plants. Runners, also known as stolons, are horizontal stems that grow from the mother plant and produce new daughter plants. In this section, I will cover runner formation, runner care, and daughter plants.

Runner Formation

Runner formation usually occurs in early summer or warm climates, after the plant has produced flowers and fruits. As the plant grows, it produces long, thin stems that extend outward from the mother plant. These stems develop roots and small leaves, forming new plants. The original plants become known as parent plants. It’s important to note that not all strawberry varieties produce runners, so research to find the best fit for your garden if you’re interested in growing runnerless varieties.

Runner Care

Providing adequate care is crucial for healthy runner plants. Regular watering and fertilization help establish strong roots and ensure the runners grow into healthy plants. Removing any weeds or plants that compete for nutrients with the runners is essential. As the runners grow, they may need to be tied down to prevent tangling or damage. Garden twine or small stakes can be used to secure them in place.

Daughter Plants

The daughter plants that form from the runners are genetically identical to the mother plant. They can be left in place to form a dense ground cover or transplanted to a new location. When transplanting daughter plants, handle them carefully to avoid damaging the fragile roots. Plant them in well-draining soil with plenty of sunlight.

Nutrient Requirements

Compost and Fertilizer

Strawberry plants require a significant amount of nutrients to grow properly. Using compost and fertilizer is an effective way to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients. Compost is a great source of nutrients while also improving soil structure and water retention. When making compost, ensure a good balance of organic materials such as kitchen scraps, leaves, and grass clippings.

Fertilizers can also be used to provide the necessary nutrients. There are various types available, including organic and synthetic options. When choosing a fertilizer, consider the nutrient content and the needs of your plants.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Even with the use of compost and fertilizer, nutrient deficiencies can still occur. Common nutrient deficiencies in strawberry plants include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Conducting a soil test can help determine which nutrients your plants lack. Adjustments to your compost and fertilizer can then be made to address the deficiency. Be cautious of nutrient toxicities, as overusing fertilizers can harm your plants. Follow the instructions on your fertilizer carefully to avoid this issue.

Overall, providing your strawberry plants with the right nutrients is crucial for their growth and development. By using compost and fertilizer and monitoring for nutrient deficiencies, you can ensure that your plants are healthy and productive.

Pest and Disease Management

Common Pests

Pests can be a major problem during the early stages of strawberry plant growth. Aphids and beetles are among the most common pests that can attack young strawberry plants. Aphids suck the sap from leaves, stunting growth, while beetles eat leaves and flowers, reducing the crop’s yield. Regular inspection for signs of infestation and using insecticides as necessary can prevent these pests from damaging your plants. Physical barriers, like row covers, can also be used to keep pests away.

Common Diseases

Diseases can also pose a threat during the early stages of strawberry plant growth. Powdery mildew, verticillium wilt, and crown rot are common diseases that can affect young plants. Powdery mildew coats the leaves with a white powdery substance, reducing photosynthesis. Verticillium wilt causes leaves to wilt and turn yellow, while crown rot causes the crown of the plant to rot, potentially killing it. Planting disease-resistant varieties, practicing proper soil management, watering at the root, and avoiding over-fertilization can prevent these diseases.

Preventative Measures

Preventative measures are the most effective way to manage pests and diseases in strawberry plants. Promoting plant health by providing adequate nutrition, water, and sunlight is crucial. Removing any dead or diseased plant material prevents the spread of disease. Creating habitat for pollinators and avoiding the use of harmful pesticides that can harm them is also important.

Varieties of Strawberry Plants

Understanding different types of strawberries is essential as you explore the early stages of strawberry plant growth. There are three main types of strawberry plants: June-bearing, ever-bearing, and day-neutral.

June-Bearing Strawberry Plants

June-bearing strawberries are the most common type. They produce a single, large crop of fruit in early summer, usually in June. These plants require a period of cold temperatures in the winter to produce fruit and are known as “short-day” plants, requiring less daylight to produce fruit. Some popular June-bearing varieties include Chandler, Jewel, Allstar, Earliglow, and Seascape.

Ever-Bearing Strawberry Plants

Ever-bearing strawberries produce fruit twice a year, in late spring and early fall. They require less cold temperatures than June-bearing plants but still need a period of winter dormancy. Ever-bearing strawberries are known as “day-neutral” plants, producing fruit regardless of daylight length. Some popular ever-bearing varieties include Tribute, Ozark Beauty, Fort Laramie, Quinault, and Albion.

Day-Neutral Strawberry Plants

Day-neutral strawberry plants produce fruit continuously throughout the growing season, from spring to fall. They require the least amount of cold temperatures among the three types. Day-neutral strawberries are also known as “ever-bearing,” but they can produce fruit even during long days. Popular day-neutral varieties include Tristar, Seascape, Tribute, Selva, and Fern.

By understanding the different types of strawberry plants, you can choose the best variety for your growing conditions and preferences. Whether you prefer a single large crop or continuous smaller harvests, there is a strawberry plant variety that will suit your needs.

Harvesting and Production

Harvest Time

Monitoring the early stages of strawberry plant growth is crucial for determining when the fruits are ready for harvest. Typically, harvest time occurs around 30 days after pollination. At this point, the fruits have reached their full size and developed their characteristic red color. Harvesting the fruits as soon as they are ready ensures maximum freshness and quality.

Fruit Production

During fruit production, vigorous plants with healthy roots will yield more fruits. Providing the plants with necessary nutrients and water is vital for optimal growth and fruit production. Proper care, such as choosing the right location with adequate spacing between plants for air circulation and removing damaged or diseased fruits, ensures high-quality yields.

Winter Care

As a strawberry plant grower, I know that winter is a critical time for the survival of my plants. Proper care during this season can make all the difference in their growth and yield. In this section, I will discuss three main aspects of winter care: dormancy, winter hardiness, and support systems.


Strawberry plants enter a state of dormancy during winter, ceasing growth to conserve energy until spring. To promote dormancy, stop fertilizing the plants in late summer or early fall. This encourages the shift from growth to energy conservation.

Winter Hardiness

Although strawberry plants are generally winter hardy, they still require protection from harsh weather conditions. Covering the plants with straw or hay insulates them from the cold and prevents soil freezing. This also keeps the plants dry, avoiding mold and fungal growth.

Support System

The weight of snow and ice can damage strawberry plants and their branches. Using stakes and twine, create a support system to keep the plants upright and stable. This framework distributes the weight of snow and ice evenly, reducing the risk of damage. In late winter, remove the straw or hay from around the plants and prune any dead or damaged branches to promote new growth for the upcoming growing season.

Overall, winter care is essential for growing healthy and productive strawberry plants. By promoting dormancy, ensuring winter hardiness, and using a support system, you can help your plants survive the winter and thrive in the spring.