Strawberries are perhaps the easiest fruit to start growing indoors. Whether you grow your strawberry plants from seeds or purchase seedling plants, there are a few important tips for growing strawberries indoors.
Strawberries growing indoors require a minimum 6 hours of sunlight or 12 hours of artificial light. Plants can be started from seeds or purchased as potted plants. Use a potting mix of mainly peat moss/coconut coir with added perlite. Pollination of indoor strawberry blossoms is often incomplete unless each flower is hand-pollinated.
Homegrown strawberries can pack substantially more flavour than your average store-bought berry. There’s nothing like a sweet and juicy homegrown snack fresh from your windowsill. Read on to learn exactly how to start growing strawberries indoors easily and successfully.
1. Gathering Supplies for Growing Strawberries Indoors
There are two main options for gathering supplies for your indoor strawberry garden: either buy a pre-made kit or get the supplies separately. Most kits are only available with strawberry seeds (not grown plants). Supplies often need to be purchased separately for strawberry plants that already have leaves and blossoms (but you’ll get strawberries sooner!).
Here are some strawberry garden kits that have everything already put together, as well as a list of the supplies for gathering them separately.
Pre-Made Kits for Growing Strawberries Indoors
- All-in-One Indoor Heirloom Strawberry Garden Kit with Recycled Steel Window Box (Made in USA)
- Mini Alpine Strawberry Garden-in-a-Pail
- Mini Wild Strawberry Adorable Eggling Grow Kit
Individual Supplies For Growing Strawberries Indoors
- Strawberry Seeds or Plants
- Choose seeds from a variety you like or plant fresh seeds from a ripe organic strawberry. Here are some great seed sellers:
- For quicker results than starting with seeds, packs of baby strawberry plants are available online. They are shipped as “bare root plants” in a dormant state and are easy to grow:
- For the fastest time to harvest, buy potted strawberry plants, like these:
- Organic Potting Soil: Store-bought organic seed-starting soil is best as it holds the right amount of moisture while also feeding the baby plants.
- Strawberry Plant Container with a drain hole:
- Clean Water: Filtered or non-chlorinated water is best
- Watering Can (or a beaker, pyrex wet measuring cup, gravy boat, et cetera)
- Sunlight! I like this compact LED plant light if the indoor strawberries aren’t getting enough direct sunlight. More light is almost always better when it comes to growing strawberries indoors.
- Paint Brush, Makeup Brush, or Cotton Swab
2. Get The Strawberry Plants Established In Their Container
- Buy ready-to-plant seeds, or freeze the seeds for a month. This will trick the seeds into thinking they have experienced winter. Follow any special freezing instructions printed on your seed packet. Fresh strawberry seeds taken from a ripe strawberry may not require freezing.
- Add the potting soil into the growing container and moisten it with the filtered water. Add enough water so that the soil clumps together, but not enough water that it turns to mud.
- After slowly thawing the seeds, plant them in room-temperature soil. Due to your clever freezer trick, they’ll think it’s spring. Yay! Follow the planting instructions on the seed packet closely when growing strawberries indoors. Take care not to plant the tiny seeds any deeper than recommended. The seeds are so tiny that it’s sometimes easier just to place the seeds on top of the soil, and then dust the seeded surface with a bit of extra soil.
- Water the newly-planted seeds lightly. Saturate the soil, but don’t use such a sharp stream of water that the soil erodes. Growing strawberries from seed requires gentle watering :)
- Place the seeded container in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Water the seeds every two or three days if the soil is becoming dry. Watering consistently is very important while the seed germinates and produces the first sprout. Keeping the soil moist and warm will produce the best conditions for seed germination.
NOTE: If things go badly for some reason…say your baby seedlings dry out and die…you can ALWAYS just start again with fresh seeds, order some live bare root strawberry plants, or pick up a few potted strawberry seedlings. No big deal.
Here is a video I made showing how to plant baby strawberry plants in a container for growing strawberries indoors:
Growing strawberries from snipped runners or baby strawberry plants will yield berries much faster than growing your plants from seeds! We’re talking 5-6 weeks for a baby strawberry plant that isn’t flowering at all yet….to 5-6 months for strawberry plants grown at home from seeds.
3. Caring For Established Strawberry Plants Growing Indoors
- Reduce watering once the plants are established. Grown strawberry plants do like water, but do not like to sit around in waterlogged soil. Once the plant is established, it’s beneficial to let the soil dry out for a day or two before you water it again.
- Hand-pollinate each flower as they appear using a paintbrush or cotton swab. Mix the pollen from the outer ring of flower’s centre to the very centre of the same flower. This will mix the outer male portion of the flower with the inner female portion. Alternatively, two flowers can be rubbed together to transfer the pollen between the male and female parts of the flowers’ centres.
- Trim off or replant any runners that are escaping your container. If you are using an alpine variety, the plant will not produce many runners at all.
- Harvest when the berries are a bright red colour. Finally enjoy all your hard work growing strawberries indoors!
- Fertilize the plants regularly with a quality organic fertilizer (read more about organic gardening here).
Tips for Growing Strawberries Indoors
Outdoor strawberries have unobstructed access to sunlight, natural humidity, and pollination from insects. As the bees can’t reach your indoor plants, you’ll need to hand-pollinate the strawberry flowers yourself in order to get consistent, healthy fruit. Other than that complication, just find a nice sunny windowsill where they will get direct sunlight for at least 4-6 hours and make sure to water them when the soil is dry (the strawberry planter will feel lighter than usual).
How Many Hours of Light do Strawberries Need Indoors?
Strawberries grown indoors do best with a daily minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight or 12 hours of artificial light. Six hours of natural sunlight can be possible in some indoor growing situations with great sun exposure, but it can be nearly impossible to achieve during northern winters or with less-than-ideal natural light. If you don’t have a bright, sunny window for your strawberry plants, provide artificial extra light such as a compact LED plant light.
For a few strawberry plants, a fluorescent tube or compact LED light easily does the trick to grow healthy strawberries indoors. Many home strawberry growers like to set the plant light to be on for 12 hours (daytime) and then off for 12 hours (nighttime). Some plant lights even come with built-in timers and automatic switches.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Strawberries Indoors?
Strawberries grown indoors from seeds typically yield ripe strawberries 5-6 months after the seeds germinate. For quicker results, purchase strawberry seedling plants.
Seedling plants may already have blossoms or immature strawberries growing on them when you purchase them (see photo below). While the blossoms usually take 4-6 weeks to yield ripe strawberries, the already-growing berries may be almost ready. With a well-selected plant, growing strawberries indoors from purchased seedlings can be almost instant!
How Much Water Do Strawberries Need?
Strawberry plants don’t need too much water, but they do appreciate a deep watering now and then. Established indoor strawberries like infrequent deep watering, but do not like to sit around in waterlogged soil. Once the strawberry plant is established, it’s beneficial to let the soil dry out for a day or two before you water it again. Don’t keep the plant overly moist all the time.
When to Fertilize Strawberries in Pots
Applying a high-quality organic fertilizer is key to healthy indoor strawberries. If using a generic organic fertilizer, fertilize strawberries every month with a light feeding. Pre-mixed organic fertilizers can be applied according to package instructions.
Recommended: Granular Organic Berry Fertilizer (Indoor/Outdoor)
Growing Strawberries in Containers
Strawberries make excellent container plants due to their compact size and hardy roots. Containers and planters for indoor strawberries should always have a drain hole, similar to container herb gardens. A little bit of perlite in the potting mix won’t hurt either!
Growing Hydroponic Strawberries
It is possible to grow hydroponic strawberries using a hydroponic indoor planter. Hydroponic strawberries are grown in an inert growing medium and fed with a nutrient-rich solution. I prefer to grow organic strawberries in potting soil because I haven’t found a reliable organic hydroponic nutrient solution (aquaponics aside, most hydroponic solutions are chemical-based). Read more about hydroponic strawberries here.
Or, you could grow your indoor strawberries in this crazy-cool
Water Garden Mini Aquaponics Ecosystem!
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