How to grow climbing strawberry plants
Would you like to grow an abundance of strawberries in summer but have limited space? How about growing climbing strawberries? We will provide you with helpful tips and tricks on how to grow them successfully.
Strawberries (Fragaria) do not have to be grown in a standard flowerbed. Climbing varieties are real showstoppers on any patio and produce delicious fruit at the same time. Read on to find out which are the most suitable varieties and how to plant and care for climbing strawberry plants.
Climbing strawberries: properties
Climbing strawberries belong to the rose family (Rosaceae). This perennial shrub is native to America, Europe and Asia. The flowers of the strawberry have a simple structure with five petals, which are usually white or pink and red in some varieties. The three-part leaves of the strawberry, toothed at the edges, are a rich green. The strawberry itself is an aggregate fruit to which the small yellow strawberry seeds, also known as nutlets, are attached. This means that strawberries are in fact nuts, and so-called collective nut fruits.
What exactly are climbing strawberries? Climbing strawberries are like ordinary strawberry plants, just that they form runners that can climb using a support. It is important to keep in mind that climbing strawberries are not climbing plants as such because they cannot hold on to anything with their runners and cannot grow upwards on their own. Therefore, climbing strawberries, both outdoors and in pots, need a climbing aid to which you tie the runners. That way, growing strawberries requires no more space than a flowerpot, which is great for those of us who only have small patios or balconies. Plus, climbing strawberry plants look fantastic!
Climbing strawberry varieties
- ‘Mount Everest’: a fast and strong growing ever-bearing variety that produces a long crop of medium-sized strawberries from June to September. Capable of producing runners up to 1 m in length.
- ‘Skyline’: perfect for small spaces as it grows upwards and not outwards. This variety is ideal for climbing up trellis or netting and grows well in pots or containers. It can grow up to 1.5 m.
- ‘Rambling Cascade’: runners can reach 1.8 m in length, so it is ideal for training to climb. A self-fertile variety that produces large, bright red, delicious strawberries.
- ‘Mara de Bois’: a favourite among chefs, this perpetual fruiting variety crops all summer. Combines the vigour of commercial varieties with the unique flavours of alpine and woodland strawberries.
How and where to plant climbing strawberries
The ideal location for climbing strawberries is in a sunny spot that is sheltered from wind and weather. The delicious fruits also thrive in partial shade but then they are not as sweet. Make sure the soil is well-drained, rich in nutrients and humus and has a pH-level of 6 –7, i.e. slightly acidic. You will also need a climbing aid, such as a garden fence or trellis. Climbing strawberries can be planted either in a pot or in a bed.
- Planting time: it is best to plant strawberries at the beginning of April or, for a harvest the following year, between July and early autumn.
- Substrate: Slightly acidic potting soil is best when growing strawberries in pots, such as our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost. This well-structured soil provides strawberries with support and ideal growing conditions. Garden soil can be enhanced with compost.
- Planting distance: in a flowerbed, keep a planting distance of 20 – 30 cm. A maximum of 3 strawberry plants fit in a pot that is 30 cm in diameter.
- Preparation: prepare the strawberry bed 2 weeks before planting so the soil can settle. To do so, loosen the soil well and remove weeds and stones. If you are planting your strawberries in a pot, make sure there is good water drainage by creating a drainage layer of clay shards at the bottom of the pot.
- Planting: when planting the strawberries, make sure the plants are not too deep – the heart bud should still protrude from the soil. Then water the plants well.
- As soon as the first runners appear, they can be attached to the climbing aid to give the plant direction.
Tip: remove the first runners from young plants. That way, compact plants with many shoots will form.
The right climbing aid for climbing strawberries
Strawberries climb upwards with the help of a climbing aid and not by themselves. The runners the strawberry plants form cannot hold on by themselves or wrap around anything. So, for the climbing strawberries to grow, carefully tie the runners to the climbing aid little by little.
A trellis, tower or even a garden fence is a suitable climbing aid. Make sure it is about 1.5 m tall. In pots, a spiral plant support is a good choice as it does not require much space and can simply be stuck into the soil.
Tip: when there are large amounts of fruit, the runners quickly become very heavy. Therefore, make sure to fasten them well so that the runners do not slip out or break off.
To make climbing strawberries grow tall, they will need a bit of love and attention.
- Watering: water climbing strawberries regularly so that the soil is always moist.
- Fertilising: fertilise regularly as the plants have a high nutrient requirement. An organic liquid fertiliser such as our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost is a great choice. It can be applied easily when watering and provides the strawberries with a balanced nutrient ratio. It is high in potassium, which is important for overwintering climbing strawberries. A suitable alternative is our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food. Mixing the organic, long-term fertiliser into the planting soil at the beginning will provide the strawberry plants with the nutrients they need for a long time.
- Perfect for tomatoes & other vegetables such as chillies, courgettes & more
- For strong & healthy plant growth as well as an abundant vegetable harvest
- Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition
- Pruning: cut or break off the first flowers of strawberries planted in spring by the end of May – that way you will achieve a significantly higher yield. This is usually not necessary with strawberries planted in autumn, as they have had time to establish themselves. Remove the first runners to get a strong strawberry plant later. If the tendrils and runners become too long, they can be cut off. In late autumn, cut off all tendrils and runners to make it easier for the mother plant to overwinter.
- Mulching: to prevent the fruit of the lower part of the strawberry plant from lying on the ground, spread a mulch layer of straw there from the end of April. This protects the fruit from dirt and moisture, preventing mould.
How to overwinter climbing strawberries
Climbing strawberries are hardy but it is a good idea to protect them from heavy frosts. First, remove the remaining tendrils so you are only left with the mother plant. Cover strawberry plants grown in flowerbeds with leaves or straw to protect them from severe frosts. Place strawberries grown in pots in a shady, sheltered spot and wrap them in fleece or bring them indoors. Do not forget to water the strawberries from time to time so that the plant does not dry out completely. Fertilising is not necessary in winter.
How to propagate climbing strawberries
Climbing strawberries can be propagated by seed or by runners produced by the mother plant, which is the easiest method. To do so, prepare small pots with growing medium such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, which provides a particularly good soil structure for young plants. Do not separate the runners from the mother plant at first, but simply press the daughter plants into the prepared pots and water them. After only 14 days, the young strawberries will have formed their first roots and can then be cut off from the mother plant. Find more information on how to propagate strawberries here.
Another great option for those of us with limited space are hanging strawberries. Read all about how to grow them in our guide.