When to fertilize strawberries – expert tips for a bountiful harvest

Strawberries, the jewel of summer, can produce a plentiful harvest when fertilized correctly. By knowing the right time and method to fertilize, you can ensure your plants grow strong and healthy, yielding an abundance of scrumptious fruits that can be used for jams, desserts, or simply enjoyed fresh from the garden.

When to fertilize strawberries for best results

To achieve optimal results, there are two key times of the year to fertilize your strawberry plants: early spring and fall. These periods provide the plants with a much-needed growth boost and ensure they receive the necessary nutrients.

The ideal time for fertilization is when the soil temperature reaches approximately 50˚F. Adding fertilizer at this stage enables the plants to have the nutrients required for flower production and a high yield of delectable strawberries.

Nathan Heinrich, a former propagation manager in California and the founder of a botanical design company, suggests starting fertilization in early to mid-spring for an abundant strawberry crop. He explains that due to the plants’ rapid growth, it is crucial to feed them with ample fertilizer from late March to early April.

If you plant your strawberries in late winter or early spring, fertilize as soon as you notice any new growth. For late summer or early fall plantings, apply a general fertilizer at the time of planting to promote strong root development.

Strawberries grown in hanging baskets, pots, or containers require additional attention and should be fed every week throughout the growing season. Begin this routine once the plants begin to flower, using a high-potassium general fertilizer on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

Providing another dose of fertilizer after the fruits have been harvested or when you have finished storing them will encourage root and leaf growth, ensuring healthy plants and a successful crop the following season.

How to fertilize strawberries

Fertilizers for strawberries are available in both dry and liquid forms, suitable for application in spring or fall. It is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommended application rate, as over-fertilizing can harm the plants and even prove fatal.

For granular fertilizers, spread them by hand around the vegetable garden beds or containers, making sure to water them in thoroughly after application. Take care to prevent the granules from touching the leaves or stems, as this can cause damage.

Liquid fertilizers are typically added to a watering can and carefully poured into the soil around the plants, avoiding splashing the foliage as much as possible.

After picking your strawberries, it is essential to clean them thoroughly to remove any soil, fertilizer, or potentially harmful substances before consumption.

Choosing the right strawberry fertilizer

The best fertilizer for strawberry plants is a balanced one, with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). When selecting fertilizer, it is crucial to understand the label, which will indicate the NPK ratio. Look for a balanced fertilizer with an equal ratio of NPK, such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. This will provide the necessary nutrients for robust growth, healthy roots, and abundant fruiting.

If you prefer to grow your strawberries without the use of chemicals, organic fertilizers are available. Options include seaweed, bone meal, chicken manure pellets, homemade compost, or well-rotted manure. These alternatives supply the essential nutrients required by the plants and release them gradually over an extended period.