Bare root strawberries

Bare-root strawberries are strawberry plants sold with the soil washed away from the roots. With no soil, the roots are “bare” and easy to package up together in a bulk bundle. Bare-root strawberries are often priced much lower than potted strawberry plants and are available in many more varieties (including many of the top gourmet strawberry cultivars).

Bare root strawberry plant basics

Bare-root strawberries are dormant strawberry plants that have been dug up, and the soil washed away so that only the plant remains. Dormant “bare root” strawberry plants are bundled up, refrigerated, and sold. Most bare-root strawberries are sold in bundles of 10, 12, or 25 plants, held together with an elastic band.

Bare root strawberries are generally sold in the early spring (and, more rarely, in the mid-late fall). If you purchase and receive them before your soil has thawed in the spring, give them a bit of water and keep them in the fridge for a few weeks until the soil has thawed and warmed a bit.

“Get dormant strawberries from a reputable nursery in the spring – they are generally sold in bundles as bare-root plants.”

Homegrown Berries: Successfully Grow Your Own Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and More, Timber Press
Eversweet pack of strawberry plants (bare root)

How to plant bare root strawberries

Bare root strawberries are easy to plant.

1. Choose and prep a planting location

Start by choosing a planting location for your bare-root strawberry plants. You can plant them in the ground in the garden outside, in a raised garden bed, or in a strawberry planter (here are some ideas for different strawberry planter containers). Look for a sunny spot (6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day) with soil that drains out water easily.

Prep the planting bed by adding a bit of homemade compost onto the top of the soil. Strawberries grow best in deep, sandy loam soil rich in organic matter. For container-grown strawberries, choose a lightweight planting mix enriched with organic fertilizer.

The best time to plant bare-root strawberries is in April or May. Try to get them in the ground before the heat of summer sets in, as the hot weather can make it more difficult for the roots to get established in the soil. That said, don’t plant them too early in cooler climates. Wait until the soil has thawed completely and has warmed up and dried out a little bit from the early spring snowmelt (if applicable in your area).

What bare-root strawberry plants look like
Opening up a bundle of bare-root strawberry plants.

2. Unpackage the bare root strawberry plants

Carefully unpackage the bare-root strawberry plants. Usually, there is an elastic band that needs to be removed from around the bundle of roots. Once this is off, the plants can be “unrolled” from their bundle.

Seperating out bare-root strawberry plants

3. Soak the strawberry plants

Carefully separate the plants, pulling each plant out one by one. Soak the plants in clean water to hydrate the roots, for a period of 30 minutes to 4 hours (depending upon how dry they were in the package). Cut off any flowers that have grown (we want the plants to focus on growing roots at this point).

“About a half-hour prior to planting, soak the roots in water. Then, be careful that roots do not dry out during he planting process.”

Homegrown Berries: Successfully Grow Your Own Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and More, Timber Press
Bare-root strawberries - soil line - depth of planting

4. Plant the bare root strawberries

Plant each bare-root strawberry plant in your prepared planting area or container. Take care not to plant the strawberry plants too deep. While the thin, yellow-white roots should be covered with soil, the brown papery “crown” around the bottom of the stems should be sticking up above the soil. Don’t bury the whole crown! Leave most of it peaking up above the soil.

5. Water after planting

Water the bare-root strawberry plants deeply after they’ve been planted in the strawberry bed. Keep them well-watered as they become established in the soil.


How to care for bare root strawberries

Once planted, caring for bare root strawberries is not unlike growing strawberry plants that come in pots. Keep the baby plants well-watered. Drip irrigation is extremely helpful in providing consistent water to the young roots. A good strawberry mulch will help keep the moisture in the soil, as well as keep weeds down.

Remove the first flowers from newly-planted bare-root strawberry plants to allow them to put their energy into growing roots in their new spot. Once the strawberries are established, the plants can be fed with a high-quality organic fertilizer (tomato fertilizers work well for strawberries).

Buying bare root strawberries

How long do bare root plants take to grow strawberries?

Some varieties of strawberries will produce the first year, while other cultivars will not produce berries until the following spring.

If you planted June bearing strawberries you won’t have a harvest the first year. If you planted everbearing varieties you will miss the early summer harvest, but you should have some strawberries to eat in early fall. June-bearers don’t grow berries the first year, but some everbearing and day-neutral may bear fruit by early autumn.

Some varieties you can find as a bare root are:

Pack of bare root strawberries
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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