I’ve been growing strawberries indoors for the past decade, and trust me, it’s been quite the journey! Through my hands-on experience, I’ve learned the intricacies of nurturing these beloved berries inside our homes.
Many of us struggle with the unpredictability of outdoor gardening, dreaming of year-round, juicy strawberries without the fuss of weather and pests. However, indoor cultivation presents its own set of challenges.
This article will delve into the essentials of indoor strawberry growing, highlighting common issues and offering solutions. From choosing the right containers to mastering lighting conditions, I’ve got you covered. Let’s turn those strawberry dreams into tangible, delicious outcomes!
Introduction to growing strawberries indoors
Based on my personal experience, strawberries are perhaps the easiest fruit to start growing indoors. Whether you grow your strawberry plants from seeds or purchase plants, there are a few important tips for growing strawberries indoors.
Strawberries growing indoors require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight or 12 hours under an LED plant light. Plants can be started from strawberry 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 flavor than your average store-bought berry. There’s nothing like a sweet and juicy homegrown snack fresh from your windowsill. Read on to learn how to grow strawberries indoors.
Supplies for growing strawberries indoors
There are two main options for gathering supplies for your indoor strawberry garden: buy a pre-made kit or get the supplies separately.
Most kits are only available with strawberry seeds (not grown plants). My favorite kit way to grow strawberries indoors is Click and Grow Strawberries. Supplies often need to be purchased separately when buying starter plants that already have leaves and blossoms (but you’ll get strawberries sooner!).
- Strawberry seeds or baby plants
- Indoor potting soil (organic if possible)
- Growing container (get strawberry planter ideas)
- Clean water: Filtered or non-chlorinated water
- Watering can (or a beaker, pyrex wet measuring cup, gravy boat, et cetera)
- Light! Find a sunny window and add an LED plant light if possible.
- Paintbrush, makeup brush, camera lens brush, or cotton swab.
How to plant strawberry seeds indoors
- 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 seeds taken from a ripe strawberry may not require freezing.
- Add the potting soil into the growing container and moisten it with filtered water. Add enough water so that the soil clumps together, but not enough water that it turns into 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 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. Tiny seeds require gentle watering.
- Place the seeded container in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
- Water the seeds every two or three days if the soil becomes dry. Watering consistently is vital 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 start again with fresh seeds, order some live bare-root strawberries or pick up a few potted seedlings. No big deal.
Growing plants 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.
Growing strawberries by planting baby plants from the garden center
- 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 the flower’s center to the very center 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’ centers.
- 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. Varieties like Honeoye, Seascape, Jewel, or Quinault, however, can produce quite a few runners.
- Harvest when the berries are a bright red color. Finally, enjoy all your hard work growing strawberries indoors!
- Fertilize the plants regularly with a quality organic fertilizer.
Growing from seeds vs. baby plants
Seeds are usually cheaper than buying baby plants, but seeds are much more difficult to grow and take longer to produce fruit. Pre-grown strawberry plants tend to be more expensive but yield quickly (with potted plants being more expensive and closer to harvest than bare-root plants).
In general, day-neutral varieties are better for indoor growing than older everbearing or June-bearing varieties. Some popular day neutrals to choose from are Seascape, Tristar, and the mini Alpine strawberries.
- The University of New Hampshire, Growing Fruit: Strawberries
- West Virginia University, Growing Strawberries for Beginners
- The University of Minnesota, Growing strawberries in the home garden