Starting strawberries from seed

Plant Care & Growing Guide

A favorite fruit in nearly every culture and cuisine, strawberries are beloved for their sweet, juicy flavor and plump red appearance. And though many people cook with them (and eat them) regularly, few have actually considered growing them themselves. Good news: It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to grow strawberries from seed. The plants, native to North America, actually aren’t that picky about where they grow, as long as you can meet their basic needs. Keep in mind, growing strawberries from seed is a process—depending on your location and the length of your grow season, it's possible your plants won't bear actual fruit until the following year. Still, with proper care and patience, you will eventually reap the benefits, knowing you tended to the delicious berries from their very beginnings.

Click Play to Learn How to Grow and Harvest Strawberries

When to Start Strawberries

Because strawberries are perennials, the plants will come back each year. So taking the time to give them a good start will absolutely be worth it in the long run.

Bareroot strawberries can be planted anytime after last spring frost, or in the fall before first expected frost to overwinter. But when you start strawberries from seed, you’ll want to keep them indoors in the early spring to help them along until the last frost has passed.

December is a good time to start the process of growing strawberries from seed. Before you begin planting strawberry seeds, you'll need to stratify the seeds. This simply means giving the seeds a chilling period in order to help with germination. Place the entire seed pack into the freezer (not a deep freezer) for three to four weeks. After they've chilled, remove them from the freezer and bring the seeds to room temperature.

Sow the seeds thinly, pressing the seeds into a moist potting medium in seed starter trays, and barely cover the seeds with growing mix. Place the tray under grow lights, as strawberries need light to germinate. Allow several weeks for germination. Be patient: seeds may germinate anywhere from 7 days to 6 weeks. Keep the seed tray in temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees. Do not let the seeds dry out. Provide good airflow to avoid dampening off.

Once the seeds begin growing, keep the grow light about two inches above the plant. Light that's too far away from the seedlings cause thin, leggy plants. When the seedling has grown and produced three sets of true leaves (the first leave to appear are the cotyledon, or seed leaves), transplant the strawberries into larger containers. Harden off plants before placing them in the garden or outdoor containers. Plant after last spring frost.

One major benefit of growing strawberries from seed is you can plant several different varieties of your choosing, as long as they can grow in your climate. But a drawback is you likely won't have a good harvest of fruit for a year after planting. Most growers recommend pinching off the strawberry flowers the first year to direct the plant's energy into producing strong roots and a good, healthy plant. Enjoy fruit the second and third year. This is certainly a case where good things come to those who wait.

The Spruce / K. Dave


Strawberry plants can go almost anywhere. From raised beds, containers, and in-ground gardens to interplanted in areas that need ground cover, strawberries aren’t picky. They also don’t grow very deep roots. So if you can find a spot for a container of any sort or designate a section of the garden, you probably can put strawberries there.

A few planting site options include:

Most strawberry plant varieties do best with lots of sunshine, so ensure that your growing location gets at least six to eight hours of direct sun per day. Also, make sure you've selected varieties that are hardy to your region, and double-check their care requirements because not all varieties can be interplanted in the same growing conditions.

Tending Strawberries

Strawberries can be everbearers, meaning they provide fruit to harvest all season long. Or they can be summer-fruiting, having one big harvest time.

To encourage the best growth from your plants, provide well-draining soil fed with organic compost or fertilizer. Also, adding a layer of mulch around your plants can help to block out weeds that would compete with your strawberries. Pull weeds as soon as you spot them, and prune off yellowed or browning leaves from the strawberry plants. This helps a plant get as much moisture and nutrients to the healthy leaves and fruits as it can, giving you a better harvest.

Many gardeners pinch off the first blossoms of their strawberry plants to help direct the early growth into bushy leaves. A mature strawberry plant will likely be no more than 6 to 12 inches high. Strawberries do best planted around 12 inches apart, and if you're using containers, a few plants to a pot is plenty.

Moreover, give your plants good, well-draining soil amended with compost or feed with compost tea after planting and harvesting, as well as in the fall. You can considerably cut down plants at the end of the season to encourage new growth for the next spring.

The Spruce / K. Dave


As soon as strawberries turn red (or white if that’s the variety you have), you can harvest them. If they’ve gone a bit too long and are soft and mushy, they’ll still be excellent in jams and other cooked-fruit recipes. And if the birds are beating you to the harvest, consider placing a low tunnel over your plants.

By tending strawberries carefully each season, you should be able to get several years of life out of your plants. However, strawberry plants tend to decline in fruit production after three years. Simply snip strawberry runners from the parent plant, and replant them to extend your strawberry bed.

The Spruce / K. Dave

Growing Strawberries from Seed

Growing strawberries from seed is a great way to establish plants without spending a lot of money.  

Honestly, it never occurred to me to grow strawberries from seed until a friend of mine showed me her beautiful heirloom strawberry seedlings.  

Strawberry plants are readily available for sure, but varieties can be pretty limited.  Unless a seed company can sell a field’s worth of bare-root plants, they’re not going to bother growing them out.  That means the really unique, specialty varieties are becoming harder and harder to find.  

In the past, anytime we want to establish new beds I order in a few bundles of bare-root plants.  We grow a lot of strawberries you see, both for jam and fresh eating.  You’d be amazed how quick my two and four-year-old can mow through a quarter acre of mature strawberry plants, leaving nothing but discarded strawberry tops in their wake.

This year we’ve planted some lovely heirloom strawberries to trial, and I may well hang most of these tender beauties in hanging baskets out of reach of my two strawberry monsters.

Do Strawberries Come True to Seed?

When something comes ‘true to seed’ it means that the new plants will have the same characteristics as the parent plants.   Apples, for example, don’t come true to seed and when you plant apple seeds you never know what you’re going to get.

Cherries and stone fruits, on the other hand, come mostly true to seed and the offspring will be very close to their parents.

Strawberries do come true to seed, and strawberry seedlings will be very similar to the parent plants (with a few exceptions).  Generally, strawberry flowers are self-pollinating, and unless you have many different varieties growing in a small patch the seeds will come true to the parents. 

Some strawberry varieties are hybrids, and they’ve grown from seed that results from the cross of two specially chosen parents.  After that point, they’re propagated clonally from runners.  These days, most commercial strawberries you’d buy at the grocery store are hybrids.

When you grow strawberries from seed, it’s best to stick to old heirloom varieties or open-pollinated wild alpine strawberry varieties.

Where to Buy Strawberry Seeds?

Since you won’t generally find heirloom or alpine strawberries in the supermarket, where can you buy strawberry seed for growing?

There are a number of places that sell specialty strawberry seed, and they’re all either old heirloom varieties or wild alpine varieties.   Either way, you’re in for a unique treat because you won’t find these varieties in the grocery store.

There are also literally dozens of varieties of strawberry seeds for sale on Amazon.

How to Germinate Strawberry Seeds

The hardest part of growing strawberries from seed is getting the seeds to germinate in the first place.   Most strawberry seeds require cold stratification to germinate, and they won’t break dormancy until they’ve gone through winter-like conditions.

This is a bit of an insurance policy for the strawberry seeds because there’s no point in sprouting in the fall right before a snowstorm.

You can mimic “winter” by simply placing the seeds in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks, which signals to the strawberries that winter is past.

To germinate strawberry seeds: Place the seed packet into a Ziploc plastic bag or tight-sealing jar.  Place that in the sealed container with the seed packet into the refrigerator and leave it there for about a month.

Read carefully, this is important…

After a month in the refrigerator, take the whole sealed container out of the refrigerator but DO NOT OPEN IT.  Allow it to come to room temperature while still sealed, which will prevent condensation from gathering on the cold seeds.

After about a day on the counter, the seeds will have warmed and they’re ready for planting.

(Some strawberry seeds do not require cold stratification, but it’s hard to know which you have.  They may well germinate without this process, but even if they don’t require it, it won’t hurt them.  Better safe than sorry.)

When to Plant Strawberry Seeds

Plant strawberry seeds indoors about 10-12 weeks before the last spring frost in your area. 

Planting strawberries from seed requires a good bit of advanced planning when you take into account the need to stratify the seeds.  Germinating strawberries can be an extended process, and takes somewhere between 1 and 6 weeks. 

If the strawberry seedlings are going to reach planting size by spring, they’ll need to go into the refrigerator for stratification 14-16 weeks before the last frost and to allow them to chill for 3-4 weeks before planting.

How to Plant Strawberry Seeds

Strawberry seeds are very small, and they should be planted at or near the surface of the soil.  Start with pre-moistened seed starting mix in seedling trays.   Place 3-4 seeds in each cell, directly on the top of the soil. 

Gently press tamp the seeds down, but don’t cover them with soil.  Mist the top of the soil with water, and keep it just barely moist until the strawberry seeds germinate.

Strawberry germination takes varies widely and can take anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks.  (Mine took 2 weeks to come up.)  

Be patient, keep the trays in a warm sunny space and ensure the soil stays just barely moist without being soggy.

Renee’s Garden, where I got my strawberry seeds, has similar instructions, and also recommends fertilizing to get them off to a strong start:

“In spring, sow seeds 1 inch apart and 1/8 inch deep in a container of fine seed starting mix. Maintain at 60 – 70° and provide a strong light source. Keep evenly moist but not soggy. Be patient, seeds can take 14 to 28 days to germinate. Feed young seedlings every 2 weeks with half-strength fertilizer. When they have several sets of leaves, transplant 3 inches apart into a deeper container or individual pots so root systems have room to develop. When 3 inches tall, gradually acclimate to outdoor conditions and plant 12 inches apart in fertile soil in full sun or partial shade in very hot climates.”

Transplanting Strawberry Seedlings

Once the young strawberry seedlings are 2-3” tall, and the last spring frosts have passed, it’s time to think about planting them in the garden.

Strawberry seedlings are delicate, and they’re accustomed to the consistent light and temperatures in their indoor growing area.  It’s important to harden off the seedlings by exposing them to the outdoors before planting.

Once the seedlings are hardened off, transplant them to a prepared garden bed with rich soil, spacing about 6 to 8 inches apart for alpine varieties and 8 to 12 inches apart for regular strawberries. 

(Alternately, transplant the strawberry seedlings to containers or hanging baskets.)

How Long Does it Take to Grow Strawberries from Seed?

Depending on the length of your growing season, strawberries grown from seed may actually fruit in the fall of the first year.   In short-season climates, you’ll have to wait until next spring.

Either way, keep the strawberry plants well-fertilized as they’re heavy feeders, and mulch with straw to keep the beds weed-free.  

The parent plants will be productive for about 4 years before petering out, and during that time they’ll be producing runners and young clone plants.  After 3-4 years, it’s time to thin the bed by transplanting strawberry runners to new locations (and removing the unproductive parent plant). 

With this care, the strawberry plants will be self-perpetuating indefinitely, and you won’t need to start strawberries from seed again unless you want to try a new variety. 

Preserving Strawberries

Once you’ve brought in your first harvest, here are some of my very favorite ways to preserve strawberries.

Seed Starting Guides

Plenty of tasty edible perennials can be grown from seed! 

Growing strawberries from seeds in 4 steps

Self-grown strawberry seedlings are a direct guarantee that the plants will grow healthy and meet the characteristics of the declared variety.

Strawberries (garden strawberries) are sown for seedlings in late February - early March. The problem with the choice of seeds should not arise: specialized stores today offer seeds of various varieties.

Among large-fruited varieties of strawberries worth highlighting are the following: Alyonushka, Vima, Kokinskaya early, Ksima, Lord, Moscow delicacy, Fireworks, Festivalnaya, Holiday, Honey . The best remontant varieties: Ali Baba, Baron Solemacher, Seasons, Garland, Yellow Miracle, Queen Elizabeth 2, Crimean early .

You can also grow strawberries from your own seeds. But then they need to be properly prepared in the summer. To do this, during the harvest period, several of the largest berries should be selected from the most developed bushes, cut off their tops, and then the top layer with seeds. The latter must be laid on paper or canvas and left to dry. Separating the seeds from the dried layer is quite easy: just rub the dried mass in your palms. nine0003

Strawberry seeds must first be dried to obtain

Strawberry seeds are best stored in small jars or paper bags. Do not forget to write the name of the variety and the date of collection of seeds. Strawberry seeds lose their germination after 4 years of storage.

1. Preparing the soil and containers for sowing strawberries

It is best to sow strawberries in soil mixture of soddy soil, sand and peat, composed in a ratio of 2:1:1. Purchased universal primer, which can be purchased at any specialized store, is also suitable. Interestingly, strawberries will also grow well in substrates designed for violets or begonias. But in garden soil, seeds should not be sown. nine0003

Tanks for growing seedlings of strawberries are recommended to take transparent ones. They will allow you to control soil moisture not only on the surface, but also in depth. Before filling the container with earth, it should be disinfected: treated with a dark pink solution of potassium permanganate.

When sowing strawberry seeds, remember that after a while the seedlings will have to swoop down. Therefore, if you are afraid that you will damage the plants during this procedure, you can sow the seeds immediately in separate containers. Plastic cups are perfect for this purpose. nine0003

2. Sowing strawberry seeds and their stratification

There is absolutely nothing complicated about sowing strawberry seeds. They do not even need to be sprinkled with substrate. Simply spread the seeds on the surface of moistened soil with tweezers and spray with a spray bottle. This will be enough for the seeds to deepen and eventually begin to germinate. The distance between seeds must be at least 2 cm.

Strawberry seeds are best sown with tweezers

3. Growing strawberry seedlings

Young shoots of garden strawberries do not need much moisture, so it is important not to over-irrigate . Waterlogging promises the appearance of mold on the walls of containers or, even worse, the occurrence of such a dangerous disease in seedlings as the "black leg".

But with the appearance of the first true leaves, seedlings become much more demanding on watering. But this is not the only thing that strawberry seedlings need in the initial stages of growth. She also needs a lot of light. Therefore, you need to grow strawberries on the lightest window sill, and if necessary - illuminate (at least 10 hours a day) with special lamps. Favorable temperature for seedling growth is 18-20°С.

The film should only be removed from the containers when the plants have their first true leaves. If this is done earlier, then strawberry seedlings may die due to a sharp drop in humidity. It is better to accustom seedlings to room conditions gradually, each time increasing the ventilation time. This procedure is called hardening .

When strawberry seedlings get used to environmental conditions, picking can be carried out. By this time, they should already have 2-4 true leaves. It is best to replant young plants using the transshipment method: extracting seedlings together with a small clod of earth from moistened soil and transferring them to separate containers 9 × 9 cm in size.

By the time of picking, strawberry seedlings should have 2-4 true leaves

When the seedlings have the second pair of true leaves, they can be fed once a week. Strawberries need fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, for example, Kemira-lux, Aquarin or Mortar (see the dosage on the package). nine0003

4. Planting strawberry seedlings in open ground

Planting strawberry seedlings in the garden right away would be too easy. This culture is not as simple as it seems. First you need to accustom her to the open air by putting her on a balcony or veranda. At first, you should keep the plants outside for only a few minutes, gradually increasing the hardening period.

If everything is done correctly, seedlings will be ready for planting in open ground in May. Plant young plants when the soil warms up to 15 ° C (in the middle lane this is usually mid-May). nine0003

The distance between seedlings in the bed should be at least 30 cm. After planting, the strawberries should be well watered. The culture loves fertile soil, so it is unlikely to grow well on any other soil.

Strawberries can be transplanted into the open ground only after proper hardening

It is worth choosing a sunny place for planting strawberries, but at first it is recommended to shade young plants from direct sunlight. Do not forget about watering, especially during flowering and fruit set. Then strawberries will certainly please you with large and juicy berries. nine0003

Propagation of strawberries by seeds - useful tips

Seed propagation of any crop may cause the variety to lose its useful traits. Therefore, today there is a lot of controversy regarding whether it is worth growing strawberries from seeds, or is it still better to propagate it with a mustache.

It should be said right away that ordinary varieties are recommended to be propagated only by vegetative means. But there is no other way to get hybrids of large-fruited strawberries, so you have to resort to seed propagation. nine0003

Finding such hybrids for sale today is not difficult. Manufacturers give many arguments in favor of their products: high quality seeds, fast germination, disease resistance. But scientific experiments show that seeds of large-fruited varieties and hybrids most often grow plants that can produce only small berries. This does not happen only with small-fruited remontant varieties.

What to do in such a situation? Just experiment. If you managed to grow good seedlings from seeds, then you can propagate it with a mustache. nine0003

What could be better than harvesting your own strawberries?

Growing seedlings, be it strawberries or any other crop, takes a lot of time and effort. But believe me, it's all worth it to eventually harvest a rich harvest from healthy and strong plants.

Growing strawberries from seeds with your own hands

Most often, garden strawberries are propagated by rooting mustaches or with the help of purchased seedlings. But sometimes it happens that you buy bushes of one variety on the market, but in reality a completely different one grows. How to protect yourself from such a misunderstanding and grow the strawberry variety that you really want to see on your site? The answer is simple - buy strawberry seeds, then the result will be guaranteed. nine0003


Harvesting Strawberry Seeds

For beginner gardeners, the prospect of growing strawberry seedlings on your own from seeds can make you feel helpless, because it takes little effort to grow strawberries died and began to bear fruit. But even if you have no idea, how to grow strawberries from seeds , this article will help you succeed and get a good harvest.

Growing strawberries from seeds has its advantages : the seeds are stored for a long time, and various pathogenic viruses are not transmitted through them. For planting, you can buy ready-made seeds or prepare them yourself. Propagation of strawberries by seeds is possible for any variety, with the exception of hybrids. You can choose strawberry varieties in such a way that berries ripen throughout the summer in your area. nine0003

Choose strawberries for seed from well-developed bushes that are not damaged in any way and give a rich harvest. In ripe berries, seeds are recommended to be taken from the middle part, as well as near the base, since they are larger, have a developed embryo and are characterized by high germination energy. Strawberries from seeds of this type will turn out beautiful, fruitful.

Select strawberries for seeds from well-developed bushes that are undamaged and give a rich harvest

Cut off the pulp layer from the berries, spread on blotting paper and let dry. Then grind the dried mass in the palms, freeing the seeds. Ready planting material should be stored in a glass container. nine0003

Three months before sowing, the seeds must be stratified - placed in a low temperature of +2 + 4 degrees in a wet state, periodically adding a little water so that the seeds do not dry out. Stir the seeds every two weeks, and dry a little just before sowing.

How strawberries are planted with seeds

It is recommended to start sowing seeds in January-February. How to plant strawberries from seeds? Just like sowing onion or bell pepper seeds:

Growing strawberry seedlings requires careful care, because this plant loves moisture, warmth and good lighting. The soil in the box should always be slightly damp, make sure that it does not dry out. You will see the first shoots of plants in 20-25 days, then the boxes will need to be placed in a well-lit place and maintain a constant temperature of + 20 + 25 degrees. nine0003

Seedlings of strawberries with the appearance of the first true leaves are dived into pots or into another box so that the distance between the seedlings is 2-3 cm. It is possible to plant seedlings in open ground at the end of May, when five leaves will already grow on the plants.

Growing strawberry seedlings requires careful care

Knowing how to grow strawberry seedlings from seed will allow you to grow any variety and produce sweet, large berries as a result. Just remember that strawberries grown from seeds are not recommended to be planted too deep in the ground, filling up the apical bud, otherwise the plant will not develop properly and will quickly die.

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