Strawberries are a popular summer fruit perfectly suited to growing on a balcony. They work well in compact spaces, produce plenty of fruit, and require very little maintenance.
So, let’s go over how to grow strawberries on a balcony.
Strawberries can be grown in USDA Zones 3-10, although varieties and planting times vary. Most varieties prefer full sun, but Alpine strawberries are happy with shade.
Also, work out what kind of fruit yield you want. Summer bearers produce all their fruit in one go during early, mid or late summer. Everbearers pop out small groups throughout the season. For best results, grow a mix.
Sunlight: Full sun or partial shade
Grow in pots: Yes – containers at least 5” in diameter
Grow indoors: Yes
Soil type: Slightly acidic
When to plant: December to May depending on USDA Zone (warmer Zones plant earlier)
You’ll generally grow strawberries from baby plants (called runners). While you can grow them from seed, it’s not really necessary because they’re so commonly available.
To grow strawberries, you’ll need:
1. Fill your pot with soil and dig out a small hole for the plant.
2. Place it in the soil and then backfill.
3. Once the plant starts flowering, you need to mulch around the base to protect the fruit (more on this below).
4. Summer fruiting varieties need to be trimmed back at the end of the season. Fall fruiting varieties don’t.
5. Water well throughout the season and fertilize every few weeks.
Strawberry plants need mulching to stop the fruit from rotting. You can use straw or polythene sheeting. Place some around the base of the plant, although this isn’t as important when growing in hanging pots.
For fertilizing, use one low in nitrogen. Nitrogen produces more leaves and diverts energy away from fruiting. You can switch back to an all-purpose fertilizer in the fall, though.
Mature plants produce runners, which turn into baby plants. The easiest way to propagate them is to catch them in a pot and stake them down using gardening wire. After a while, they’ll grow roots and you can cut them off the mother plant.
It’s more difficult to do this with hanging pots. Instead, wait for them to grow fairly large and you should be able to cut them off and plant them in soil. Bring them inside over winter if your climate freezes.
Homegrown strawberries taste a lot better than shop-bought. In your first year, don’t go overboard with buying plants, as you’ll have more than you know what to do with after a few seasons! Once you have some runners established, you’ll end up with an almost perpetual loop of strawberry plants.