Home Gardening Center Tip Sheet: Strawberry PotsBy Sonia Uyterhoeven
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Strawberry pots add instant artistry to any garden. They come in all shapes and sizes, from elegant tall skinny pots with a modern slant to classic potbelly containers that bring to mind pots you might see in a classic French potager or vegetable garden.
These pots typically have pockets around the body of the container and a wide opening at the top. Traditionally they are planted with strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa). The idea is to place the mother plants on top and have the daughter plants move down the pot on their runners and colonize the open pockets.
Today strawberry pots can be filled with of a variety of plants ranging from drought-tolerant creeping sedums (Sedum) and hens and chicks (Sempervivum) to a multitude of herbs and colorful annuals. However, these containers don’t always provide optimal conditions for plants. It can be a challenge to get water to all areas of the container. The good news is that garden centers abound with sun-loving annuals that adapt well to these challenging conditions. Popular are verbena (Verbena), lantana (Lantana), million bells (Calibrachoa), Joseph’s coat (Alternanthera), and more. Of course strawberries will always do--they can handle being crammed in small spaces. Place individual plants in every pocket for an instant result.
How to Plant a Strawberry Pot
As mentioned above, one of the challenges of these containers is the even distribution of water. Here are a few helpful suggestions to get you moving in the right direction.
1. Cut an old garden hose two inches shorter than the height of the pot.
2. Make holes down the length of the hose using your pruners. Try to stagger the perforations evenly.
3. Close the bottom end of the hose with a cork.
4. Place the hose in the center of the pot and start filling with potting mix.
5. Fill up to an inch below the first opening.
6. Place the first plant in position by slightly squeezing the root ball and sliding it through the opening.
7. Continue planting in this method until you reach several inches from the top.
8. Plant the top of the container so that the surface is two inches below the lip of the container. The top of the hose should remain slightly above the surface level.
9. Fill the hose with water as this will not only help distribute the water evenly, but it will also act as a mini reservoir that contains water.
10. If you don’t feel like using an old hose, take a two-inch PVC pipe and drill holes (1/8-inch diameter) on alternate sides down the length of the pipe approximately one inch apart.
An Alternative Method for Planting a Strawberry Pot
This one is my favorite method.
1. Take the cardboard tube of a paper towel roll and place it in the center of the strawberry pot. The tube will probably not be long enough so you may have to tape several tubes together with duct tape (or any heavy duty tape).
2. Mix pea gravel with a handful of horticultural charcoal. You can find horticultural charcoal at the garden center; it is what you find in orchid mixes and not to be confused with the charcoal that you place on your grill. You can also use straight pea gravel.
3. Add some of the pea gravel mixture around the base of the tube to give it support, and then fill the tube with the remainder of the mixture.
4. Fill the pot with potting soil up to an inch from the first pocket and plant according to the directions above.
5. When you are finished planting, tap the pot gently to settle the soil.
6. Pull out the cardboard tube and the column of pea gravel will stay in place. You have created a funnel that aids drainage and helps distribute water evenly.
The strawberry pots can survive without these watering channels, but the containers are easier to water and your yield (whether strawberries, annuals, or herbs) will be much more productive.
Suggested Plants For Strawberry Pots
Strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa)
June-bearing strawberries will give you one large crop in early summer. Some varieties to look for are: ‘Allstar’, ‘Earlyglow’, ‘Jewel’, ‘Cavendish’, and ‘Late Glow’.
Day-neutral strawberries will produce from June to October. Some varieties to look for are ‘Tribute’ and ‘Tristar’.
Ever-bearing strawberries will produce berries sporadically throughout summer. ‘Quinault’ works well in containers.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Joesph’s coat (Alternanthera)
Calibrachoa (Calibrachoa) Million bells or Superbells series
Creeping sedums (Sedum) ‘Angelina’, ‘John Creech’, ‘Golden Carpet’, ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’, ‘Blue Spruce’, Fuldaglut’, Ruby ‘Mantle’
Creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia)
Cuphea or Mexican heather (Cuphea)
Euophorbia (Euphorbia) ‘Diamond Frost’
Hens and chicks (Sempervivum)
Lantana (Lantana) Bandana, Lucky, and Patriot series
Petunia (Petunia) Supertunia, Surfina
Signet marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia)
Verbena (Verbena) Babylon, Homestead, Tapien, Superbena
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Generous support for the Home Gardening Center has been provided by Kenneth and Ellen Roman.