Planting Florida Strawberries
The perennial strawberry plant is treated as an annual in Florida because of heat sensitive berry plants cannot survive the long hot summers. begin preparing your soil in September, plant in October and harvest berries from late December until May.
- Begin by adding nutrients to the soil, till any grass or organic material and let decompose.
- Sterilize the soil by wetting the garden and covering with a clear, water resistant plastic sheeting. The soil should be sterile after a few weeks.
- Next it is time to fertilize. The best way is to provide measured feedings of organic or commercial fertilizer several time throughout the season. Apply less in the beginning of the growing cycle to avoid fertilizer burn. Apply more when plants are established and producing blooms.
- After fertilizing you are ready to purchase your plants. Many retail nurseries carry plants during October for home gardeners.
- Trim off any dead leaves and soak the roots thoroughly to prevent them from drying out.
- Dig a hole in the soil large enough to spread out the plant’s roots.
- Place plants with the base of the crown level with the surface of the soil. Do not set too deep. Pack the soil around the roots.
- As the season progresses, keep your berry plants weeded and cultivated. Lay straw, hay or pine needles around the base of each plant. This helps retain moisture, protects against cold weather, prevents weeds and keeps berries clean.
- The plants will need almost constant irrigation during the heat of the day.
- After plants are established, you will need to watch for pests and disease and listen to weather reports for news of freezing temperatures.
Growing strawberries in Florida is a rewarding experience for the home gardener. At season’s end, you will have delicious fruit and a unique understanding of the hard work and patience involved in commercial strawberry production.