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Love Strawberries? Vertical Strawberry Planter Ideas For Your Garden

August 2, 2023 - Albion Strawberries in Self-Watering Vertical Strawberry Planter

A Cheap, Low Maintenance Self-Watering System for Strawberries:

Strawberries can be fun and easy to grow in the right conditions, which is why the right strawberry planter matters! Vertical strawberry planters with no wicking system are a nightmare to keep watered, but the solution to this problem is far easier than I expected.

Creating a self-watering strawberry planter is a gardener’s dream for low maintenance and ease of growing.  It only requires three things: some wicking cord, a small tiered strawberry planter, and a saucer or tray to hold water.  Any tray and strawberry planter pot will do – this doesn’t need to be fancy, just self sufficient!

Growing Conditions for Strawberries:

Strawberries need a lot of light – 6+ hours per day minimum if you want a decent yield.  For soil, I use composted horse manure which will literally grow anything; but any well-drained, loamy soil with high organic matter will work.  While they need well-drained soil, strawberries don’t like to dry out and will wilt and start to fade if they dry out often.

This is why I always replant my strawberries when they come in one of these small strawberry planters – I could never keep them watered!  Until now…

Vertical Strawberry Planter Ideas – Making a Store-Bought Tiered Strawberry Planter Self-Watering

I got this planter on clearance with some half-dead quinault strawberries back in 2022.  These strawberry planters are NOTORIOUS for drying out, and even though I love them in theory, I never was able to grow decent strawberries in them!

I bought some self-watering wicking cord from Amazon (I literally could not find this anywhere else) with the intention of finally using my small tiered strawberry planter.  The planter has a hole in the bottom, but for those that don’t it’s really easy to drill a quarter inch or half inch hole in plastic pots like this one.  The pot is about one foot (twelve inches) tall, so I cut about two feet of self-watering wicking cord for this project.  I ran it through the hole at the bottom leaving two inches under the pot.

I looped the wick to make sure it was under each opening, then ran it up through the middle of the pot.  This ensures that the smaller plants with short roots that I place in this strawberry planter will get watered well, starting on day one!

June 1, 2023 - Self-Watering Strawberry Planter Before Adding Strawberries
June 1, 2023 - Self-Watering Strawberry Planter Before Adding Strawberries
June 3, 2023 - Self-Watering Strawberries in a Store-Bought Vertical Strawberry Planter Pot
June 3, 2023 - Self-Watering Strawberries in a Store-Bought Vertical Strawberry Planter Pot
June 7, 2023 - Self-Watering Strawberries in a Tiered Strawberry Planter
June 7, 2023 - Self-Watering Strawberries in a Tiered Strawberry Planter

I covered the wick with dirt, then set the pot in a saucer of water and watered the dirt thoroughly.  Two days later I got my Albion strawberry plants in and placed one in each opening of my vertical strawberry planter.  Four days later, the strawberries are growing and the pot doesn’t need any maintenance except for adding water to the saucer!

August 2, 2023 - Albion Strawberries in Self-Watering Vertical Strawberry Planter
August 2, 2023 - Albion Strawberries in Self-Watering Vertical Strawberry Planter
August 2, 2023 - Albion Strawberries in Self-Watering Vertical Strawberry Planter
August 2, 2023 - Albion Strawberries in Self-Watering Vertical Strawberry Planter

Two months later, the plants are taking off and, since these are day-neutral strawberries, they’re beginning to fruit and grow runners.  I moved the strawberry planter to a larger saucer to help the strawberries survive our nasty heat and drought this year, and it’s flourishing.  In comparison, you can see the same strawberries plants from the same purchase that have been in a flower bed compared to the flowers in the pot – finally, a vertical strawberry planter that doesn’t dry out, and maybe works even better than my raised beds!

One note on the difference between these two setups: the raised beds allowed my strawberries to dry out when the roots were young and short, but the self-watering planter never did.  This stunted their growth in the beginning, but as the roots in the raised beds grew they started to take off.  I watered this bed daily at minimum, sometimes twice a day in the beginning to baby these small plants along.  Now they need watered every couple of days, even in heat/drought – so the raised beds work really well, but are higher maintenance, especially in the beginning with smaller rooted plants.

I’ve not had luck in the past over-wintering strawberries in pots outside – I think the issue is drying out more than cold.  So this year I’ll either replant these into my raised beds, move the pot indoors for some indoor strawberries, or try to overwinter in a more protected area.  I’ll update this post with the decision and results!

Types of Strawberries:

  • June-Bearing: strawberry plants that produce one large crop of berries, usually in June.  This is the most common type of strawberry grown in the US.
  • Everbearing: strawberry plants that produce two crops of berries, usually in mid-spring, and again in late summer/early fall.
  • Day-Neutral: strawberry plants that are not sensitive to day length.  This means they flower and fruit continuously in moderate temperatures.  They typically produce fruit from July to October, or the first killing frost of the season.

Strawberries In My Garden (Past and Present):

Quinault:

Everbearing. Smaller fruit but sweet and tasty.  Like most everbearing varieties, I got two decent seasons out of these plants, the first season more prolific than the second.  I liked these strawberries, but lost them when I had to move my garden (they didn’t survive being potted over winter).  I got these locally, so they can be found in stores, and I’d definitely grow these again!

Whoppers (Gurney’s):

June-Bearing.  These are huge and incredibly sweet!  The plants are quite large for strawberries, and very sensitive to wet conditions – the berries will rot if allowed to lay on the soil or if June is an especially wet season.  I had these for years, but also lost these when I had to move my garden.  Whoppers are a Gurney’s exclusive and are worth a try for their amazing size and flavor.

Albion:

Day-Neutral.  This is my first time growing this cultivar, and they seem much hardier than the Whoppers, which tended to be more delicate growers.  I ordered these from Amazon, but they’re available from most online garden stores, and sometimes locally as they’re a popular cultivar.

Companion Planting for Strawberries:

Good Companions:

Apple trees, chives, thyme, marigolds, garlic, spinach, and lettuce are all good companions for strawberries.  I have my strawberries in a vertical strawberry planter (project above) and a raised bed with a dwarf Honey Crisp apple and garlic chives.  Next year I’ll be adding thyme, as it’s supposed to really bring out the sweetness in strawberries! 

A quick note on the strawberry planter project – thyme would grow really well in this setup.  I plan to make another one of these next year (or for an indoor setup over winter?) and will likely add in thyme and see if it improves the quality of my strawberries.

Note on my Quinault strawberries – they were grown with thyme, and they were really good strawberries!

Bad Companions:

Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes: these plants could harbor verticillium wilt, a serious strawberry disease.

Since strawberries like a full 6 hours or more of sunlight, planting them under full-canopy trees can limit the amount of fruit you get from them, and increase chances of fruit rot in wet weather.

Research and the Benefits of Strawberries:

These tasty berries have a lot of health benefits, and are easy to incorporate into your diet with fresh eating, dessert recipes, smoothies, adding to chia yogurt, and so much more.

There’s promising research that strawberries can reduce dementia risk in older adults. 1

Cleveland Clinic lists cognitive function, the immune system, and the cardiovascular system as beneficiaries to eating strawberries. They also list improved blood sugar and a reduction in inflammation as added benefits. 2 This is further backed by a National Library of Medicine research article. 3

Hopefully these articles, along with how easily these tasty little berries can be grown, inspire you to try growing some strawberry plants for yourself!

Sources:

  1. Agarwal P, Holland TM, Wang Y, Bennett DA, Morris MC. Association of Strawberries and Anthocyanidin Intake with Alzheimer’s Dementia Risk. Nutrients. 2019 Dec 14;11(12):3060. doi: 10.3390/nu11123060. PMID: 31847371; PMCID: PMC6950087.
    1. “Strawberries have been identified to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that improve neuronal function and cognition…  In this prospective study of older community adults, strawberry intake was associated with a 34% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s dementia compared to no or rare intake. Strawberries are rich in a number of flavonoid bioactives (e.g., anthocyanidins, mainly pelargonidin) that we found were each associated with lower Alzheimer’s dementia risk. Pelargonidin intake, which is a primary bioactive present in strawberries, appears to account for the protective effect of strawberries on Alzheimer’s dementia even when controlled for various confounding factors including demographics, genetic predisposition to dementia, lifestyle and other dietary factors including other antioxidant nutrients intake.”
  2. Cleveland Clinic (2023): All The Reasons You Should Eat Strawberries
  3. Hannum SM. Potential impact of strawberries on human health: a review of the science. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17. doi: 10.1080/10408690490263756. PMID: 15077879.
    1. “Epidemiological studies have noted a consistent association between the consumption of diets rich in fruits and vegetables and a lower risk for chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. There is accumulating evidence that much of the health-promoting potential of these plant foods may come from phytochemicals, bioactive compounds not designated as traditional nutrients. In strawberries, the most abundant of these are ellagic acid, and certain flavonoids: anthocyanin, catechin, quercetin and kaempferol. These compounds in strawberries have potent antioxidant power. Antioxidants help lower risk of cardiovascular events by inhibition of LDL-cholesterol oxidation, promotion of plaque stability, improved vascular endothelial function, and decreased tendency for thrombosis. “

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