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When to Fertilize Strawberries?

Maximize strawberry yields with strategic fertilization. Learn the best times to apply nutrients, crucial for healthy growth and fruitful harvests.

Strawberries are small plants that need extra care to grow well. This article will teach you how to give them the food they need to grow big and strong. This food is called fertilizer.

Strawberries need three important things to grow healthy: Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus. Think of them like vitamins for your strawberry plants. These vitamins make sure your plants are strong and can produce a good amount of berries.

Strawberries keep growing and producing berries all year. But, the quantity of plant food they need will depend on the type of strawberry and the weather conditions.

Types of Strawberries & Their Fertilization Needs

A bucket of strawberries on a wooden table showcasing various types of strawberries and their ferti

During their growth journey, strawberries go through five different stages, and with proper nutrition during every stage, the fruit’s growth is luscious and ripe at once. Let us read about the specific needs of the types of strawberries based on their harvest time.

June-Bearing Strawberries 

Sown in the months of late summer or during early fall, depending on the climatic conditions in your region. Planting during this time gives the seed enough time to bind with the roots so it begins to grow before winter.

Once the fruits are picked up, the plant becomes ready to see yet another growth cycle. The name June bearing means their peak fruiting happens in June. Below is the general timeline for growing these types of strawberries:

  • Planting: The best time to plant these is late summer and early fall, which gives enough time for the seed to mix properly with the soil and begin root formation. 
  • Method to Sow: The method must be decided carefully, as the seed process can take up to a year to give the first harvest. 
  • Adequate Space: The next step is to find an ideal space abundant in sunlight and soil having good pH levels (6-6.8). To increase nutrient content levels, you can also use manure to enrich the soil efficiency. 
  • Process of Planting: Adequate spacing between the plants, typically between the rows and columns, allows abundant space to let the plants grow. 
  • Post-Planting Care: Regularly water the plant to provide consistent moisture during the first few weeks. Watering the roots for deep moisture till the root zone.

Ever-Bearing Strawberries 

Day-neutral ones require a smaller harvest period, unlike June-bearing ones. Although they produce smaller harvests than June-bearers, they have a longer fruiting period that often extends well into fall. 

Day-Neutral Strawberries 

More flexible as compared to June-bearing fruits. These are planted in early spring and keep blooming throughout the season. The temperature needs to be maintained at a favorable range as per the climatic conditions.

The harvest time of these strawberries is early because they have a smaller cycle, and within one year, the soil can again be ready for cultivation.

What is the Right Time to Fertilize Strawberries?

Strawberries growing on plant ready for harvest Learn when to fertilize strawberries for optimal growth

Timing is important when nurturing strawberries, although different varieties may have different needs during their growth cycle. In this section, you will learn about the ideal fertilization schedule for all three types of strawberries:

The table below describes the time frame for fertilizing strawberries that bear fruits in June.

Ideal Time 

Benefits

Fertilizing Technique

Early Spring Season 

Provides enough nutrients to support growth during the winter season

Fertilizing in the ratio 10-10-10 at half the prescribed rate 

Post Harvest

Recharges the soil with all lost nutrients. Making it ready for the next cycle  

Balanced 10-10 in the starting, then 20 in the last.

Day-neutral strawberries need fertilization throughout the year as they bear fruits during the favorable season.

Ideal Time

Purpose

Fertilizing Technique

Initial Days of Summer

To fasten the growth of new buds

Balanced level (10-10-10)

During Growing Season 

To support continuous growth and produce fruits faster 

Require proper fertilization after every 2-3 weeks in a cycle

Late in Season

Allows plants to prepare for winter harshness

No fertilization required 

Everbearing types of strawberries produce smaller fruits during the summer and winter seasons. For good growth during these times, these plants should be fertilized in the following manner:

Time Frame

Purpose 

Fertilizing Technique

Initial Days of Summer

Promotes new growth at a fast pace, leading to more flowering

Balanced level (10-10-10)

During Growing Season

Requires it for the production of fruits and flower 

Require proper fertilization after every 4-6 months

Late in Season

Makes the texture hard for the harsh winter season

No fertilization required

Best Fertilizers for Strawberries

Water-Soluble Balanced Fertilizers: Designed for frequent feeding in container-grown strawberries, water-soluble balanced fertilizers provide a readily available source of essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Look for fertilizers formulated specifically for container plants or flowering plants. These fertilizers typically have an NPK ratio close to 1-1-1 (equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) to support healthy vegetative growth and flower/fruit production in strawberry plants. 

Compost Tea: A gentle, natural option for container-grown strawberries, compost tea is a liquid fertilizer made by steeping compost in water. It provides a range of nutrients and beneficial microbes that can improve soil health and plant growth. To make compost tea, steep a burlap bag filled with compost in a water container for a few days.

Techniques to Fertilize Each Type of Strawberry

Techniques for fertilizing different types of strawberries soil testing balanced fertilizer applica

June-Bearing Strawberries: Even the application of fertilizer is key to June-bearing strawberries. Broadcasting fertilizer achieves this by distributing nutrients uniformly throughout the planting bed.

Timing: Apply in late summer or early fall, after the last fruits have been harvested.

Process: Spread the prescribed amount of fertilizer (balanced fertilizer or compost) evenly over the entire bed. Gently rake it into the shallow topsoil layer, then water thoroughly to help the fertilizer dissolve and reach the roots.

Day-Neutral and Everbearing Strawberries: There are two techniques for this type of berries. Both need to be applied during different phases of growth.

Technique 1

Side-Dressing: Ideal for providing targeted nutrition during the growing season.

Timing: Apply every 6 weeks after the second flush of flowers appears.

How To: Create shallow trenches a few inches away from the plant rows, sprinkle the fertilizer evenly, and cover with soil and water.

Technique 2 

Foliar Spray is best for a quick nutrient boost or to address deficiencies mid-season.

Timing: As needed, based on plant appearance.

How To: Dilute a balanced liquid fertilizer according to instructions, and apply a fine mist to leaves in the early morning or evening.

Container-Grown Strawberries 

This method has wide applications, so there are two techniques here, too.

Technique 1 

Fertigation ensures consistent nutrients with regular watering, which is ideal for containers.

Timing: Apply diluted water-soluble fertilizer during regular watering throughout the active growth phase.

How To: Mix a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for containers into your watering can and apply it to saturated soil.

Technique 2 

Using a slow-release fertilizer provides a steady supply of nutrients over time.

Timing: Mix into the soil at planting time and reapply according to product instructions.

How To: Choose slow-release granules formulated for containers, incorporate them into the potting mix, and water as usual.

What is the Right Fertilizer?

All fertilizers display the amount of the three basic ingredients, N, P, and K, while all three have their roles: 

  • The presence of nitrogen initially ensures lush foliage growth and overall plant health.
  • P is the root and flower booster and gives your strawberries the right push to start growth. 
  • And with the right amount of Potassium, the plant produces the sweetest berries.

For best results, always use these three nutrients in a balanced 10-10-10, and this is all your strawberries will ever need. 

Take the Best Out of the Process

Fresh strawberries growing in the garden

Now that you have learned about the best practices, options for fertilizers, the right time, and the right methods, Here are some more tips to help you excel during this operation.

  • Test the Soil: Before adding any plant food, it is important to test the soil. You can easily get your soil tested at the local nearest gardening store.
  • Try Natural Food Options: Compost and old manure are like treats for your strawberry plant. They enhance and improve the soil and support the good growth of your sapling.
  • Watch the Weather: Even the best plant food won’t work as well if your plants are not feeling good. Don’t feed your plants when it’s hot or dry outside or when the flowers are already open. This could hurt the flowers.
  • Listen to the Plants: Your strawberry plants will tell you what they need! If the leaves turn yellow, they might need more nitrogen food. They might want some extra phosphorus if they aren’t making many berries.

Conclusion  

Now that you know about the types of strawberries and their nutritional needs. To ensure you get the best result, fertilize the strawberries at the right time. The right timing is very significant in the growth of strawberries, as these plants produce fruits in less than a year. 

With proper fertilization, your berries will bloom throughout the year. Keep adding the missing nutrients to the soil after every harvest for the best yield next season. Explore our range of organic and inorganic fertilizers to provide adequate nutrients to the strawberries. 

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