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Growing Strawberries in Zone 8

If you’re looking to grow strawberries, you can plant them as perennials in USDA zones 5-8 or as cool-season annuals in zones 9-10. Zone 8 encompasses parts of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, as well as areas in Texas, California, and the Pacific Northwest. This region experiences annual temperatures that rarely drop below 10 degrees F. (-12 C.), allowing for a longer growing season than other regions. As a gardener in zone 8, this means you can expect larger crops with bigger, juicier berries. To ensure successful growth, plant your strawberries after the last threat of frost has passed for your region. In zone 8, this typically occurs in late spring, which may be as late as February or as early as March.

I decided to plant my own strawberries in a pot, which allowed me to have better control over the soil, water, and climate. When necessary, I could move the pot indoors. My previous strawberry plants were able to thrive for three years. I selected ever-bearing varieties because they are known to produce the most consistent yields in containers, producing two to three flushes throughout the summer and fall. It would be beneficial to consult with your local garden center to determine which varieties are best suited for your area. Strawberries usually develop roots that range from 6 inches to 1 foot in length. Greater root depth implies better physical anchoring and a greater ability to withstand drought or nutrient stress. As a result, selecting a container that is at least 6 inches deep, but ideally 10-12 inches deep, will provide a healthy root zone for your strawberries to flourish in.

I choose ever-bearing varieties because they tend to be the most reliable container producers, and they yield two or three consistent flushes throughout summer and fall. Check with your local garden center to see which varieties grow best in your area.

The best soil for strawberries in pots is a loose, loamy potting mix that will hold moisture but quickly drain away any excess water. Make sure to use a container with a drainage hole in the bottom. Loam soil, the ideal growing medium for the vast majority of garden plants, includes three components:

  • Sand comprises about 40 percent of the soil total by volume.
  • Silt comprises roughly 40 percent of the soil total by volume.
  • Clay comprises the remaining 20 percent of the soil’s total.

As mentioned above, drainage is key for productively growing strawberries in pots. Ensure that your potting mix allows water to move through the root zone without pooling up or getting stagnant. You can test the drainage of your soil by filling a container with it and then pouring water over the top to measure the water infiltration capacity. If it goes into the potting mix quickly, you are good to go for planting strawberries. However, if it creates a little puddle of water on the surface, this is a sign that you either compacted the soil too hard into the pot or your mix is not well-drained enough.

Strawberries love slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. You can achieve this by mixing in small amounts of sawdust, coffee grounds, or pine needles. Or make things simpler, you can also select an “acid-loving plant” mix such as those made for roses and azaleas.

Remove all dead or dying leaves. Old leaves stop contributing to carbohydrate production but still absorb water and nutrients. Remove these leaves to help your strawberry plants thrive without putting energy into leaves that are not giving anything of value back. Also, ALWAYS remove runners when strawberries are in pots. Removing runners prevents resources from going to clone plants when there are limited resources in a pot.

Fertilize once a year after the plant has produced fruit using Espoma Organic Berry-Tone 4-3-4 Natural & Organic Fertilizer and Plant Food for All Berries or a 10-10-10 fertilizer for strawberries.

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