Types of strawberries: The different varieties at a glance
Nothing quite tastes like a home-grown strawberry. Read on to find out more about the many varieties of strawberries available to grow and their different tastes, sizes and harvesting times.
For the tastiest soft fruits of summer, strawberries (Fragaria) are perhaps the most widely grown here in the UK, with raspberries (Rubus idaeus) a close second. With different varieties available, from those with white fruits to climbing habits and those perfect for a balcony to those bred for the sweetest flavour, there is a cultivar for every situation. We’ll cover the main strawberry types suited to our climate encompassing summer-fruiting, perpetual or ever-bearing, heirloom and the shade-loving alpine or wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca).
Tip -The widely grown common or garden strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa), which produces large fruits was the result of an accidental cross between the Chilean strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) and the American strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) over two hundred years ago. Whereas the alpine or wild strawberry is native to Europe and produces intensely flavoured smaller fruits.
What are the different types of strawberries?
Here in the UK, strawberries tend to be broken down into three groups including summer-fruiting types that are further classified as early, mid or late varieties, perpetual or everbearers that crop lightly from May right through until the autumn and alpines that can fruit from June until November.
The best strawberry varieties for growing at home
The best strawberries to grow at home depends on when during the year you would like to be picking their tasty fruits, their growth habits and whether your growing site receives sun or shade.
Summer-fruiting strawberry varieties
As previously mentioned, summer-fruiting types can be split into those that are early-season and crop from mid-June to early July, mid-season for cropping from late June to mid-July and late-season which will produce fruit from early to late July. Summer-fruiting strawberries prefer to be grown on a moist, but well-drained soil in full sun and will crop less heavily if grown in shade. With a wide selection, from the well-known ‘Cambridge Favourite’ strawberry to lesser-known new cultivars, by choosing a selection of early, mid and late you could even be enjoying strawberries for weeks on end.
Early fruiting varieties:
- ‘Christine’ : Early fruiting, large fruits, sweet and juicy, red and glossy, good resistance to Verticillium wilt and powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis).
- ‘Honeoye’ : Bright red and firm fruits, good flavour, freezes well, heavy cropping, suitable for containers, outdoors or undercover.
- ‘Mae’ : Medium to large fruit, heavy cropping, sweet-tasting, outdoor or undercover cultivation, very early fruiting, limited disease resistance.
- ‘Vibrant’ : Red and glossy fruit, impressive flavour, sweet and juicy, medium to large fruit, good resistance to crown rot (Phytophthora cactorum) and powdery mildew.
Mid-season fruiting varieties:
- ‘Alice’ : Red-orange fruits, impressive sweetness, excellent disease resistance, impressive harvests.
- ‘Cambridge Favourite’ : Tried and tested, medium-sized fruit, heavy cropping, suitable for container growing, good general disease resistance.
- ‘Elsanta’ : Large and firm fruits, bright red colour, stores well, sweet and juicy, poor disease resistance – require careful cultivation.
- ‘Red Gauntlet‘ : Large fruits, reliable heavy cropping, can crop again later in the season, some resistance to grey mould (Botrytis cinerea).
- ‘Totem’ : Firm red fruits, freezes well, excellent flavour, heavy cropping, show some resistance to red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae).
Late season fruiting varieties:
- ‘Fenella’ : Large glossy fruits, sweet flavour, impressive yields, good resistance to crown rot and wilt.
- ‘Florence’ : A new variety which can crop as late as August, firm fruits, bright red colour, sweet flavour, impressive resistance to powdery mildew, wilt and vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus).
- ‘Pandora‘ : Large orange-red fruit, vigorous growth, juicy, good resistance to wilt and mildew, requires another variety close by for pollination.
- ‘Pegasus‘ : Large glossy fruits, sweet and juicy, heavy cropping, good resistance to wilt and grey mould.
- ‘Rhapsody‘ : Medium to large fruits, glossy red colour, impressive harvests, sweet and juicy.
For the best harvests and to promote plant health, strawberries prefer a fertile and well-drained soil that is kept moist. Our Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Soil is ideal for using with strawberry plants as it is rich in nutrients and free-draining.
Tip – To avoid waterlogging, especially on clay or compacted soils, organic matter can be worked into the ground to improve structure and fertility.
Perpetual or everbearing strawberry varieties
Perpetual strawberries or everbearing as they are also known, can produce smaller fruits from as early as May until the autumn, when the temperatures begin to drop. Preferring growing conditions similar to summer-fruiting types, here are some of the most commonly available varieties:
- ‘Buddy’ : Dark red fruits, strong flavour, limited runners produced, ideal for container growing, impressive yields even in hot weather.
- ‘Flamenco’ : New variety, very sweet, medium to large fruits, heavy yields, good resistance to wilt and powdery mildew.
- ‘Finesse’ : Small red fruits, good flavour, juicy, long harvesting season, produces few runners, good resistance to wilt and crown rot.
Alpine strawberry varieties
The alpine or wild strawberry, botanically known as Fragaria vesca, produces smaller fruits from mid-summer until the autumn with a delicious flavour. Suitable for a sheltered spot, alpine strawberries will cope with full sun or shade and will spread, providing ground cover if required.
- Wild variety : Spreading habit, white flowers followed by small red fruits, fragrant, intensely flavoured, suitable for containers and hanging baskets.
- ‘Mignonette’ : Compact habit, tiny fruits, highly fragrant.
- ‘Mara des Bois’ : Medium size fruits, intense flavour, heavy cropping, good resistance to powdery mildew.
Heirloom strawberry varieties
Heirloom or heritage strawberries are said to have the best fragrance and taste. However, they tend to yield lighter harvests and smaller fruits, have less disease resistance and not to keep too well.
- ‘Red Gauntlet’ : Large red fruits, mid-summer harvest with a possible second crop in the autumn, reliable, some resistance to grey mould.
- ‘Royal Sovereign’ : Dating back to 1892, a true heritage strawberry, medium-size red fruits, very sweet and juicy, crops mid-June to mid-July.
White strawberry varieties
For something different and really eye-catching, why not try a white strawberry variety that ripens white instead of red.
- ‘Snow White’ : White fruits and red seeds, pineapple flavour, impressive yields from June to July, bushy habit, suitable for containers.
- ‘White Dream’ : Pineapple flavoured, white fruits produced during the summer months, suitable for containers.
Climbing strawberry varieties
Unusual and so-called because they produce runners that can grow up to 2m in length, climbing strawberries do not actually climb, but can be tied in up vertical supports to provide an unusual feature. These climbing varieties are ideal for balconies or where space is at a premium.
- ‘Mount Everest’ : Vigorous growth, medium-size red fruits, sweet and juicy, crops from June to September.
- ‘Rambling Cascade’ : Grows to 2m, can be trained vertically, allowed to hang or grown on the ground to spread, large red fruits, sweet flavour.
With so many strawberry varieties to choose from, it might be time to start planning which and when to plant them. For tips on how and when to plant your strawberry plants read our article here.