The best fertilizer for strawberries is a nitrogen rich, slow release organic fertilize like pelleted chicken manure. Sprinkle a small amount around the base of the plants at the start of spring, summer and fall. Wait for 4 weeks after the start of spring and apply some sulfate of potash to encourage more flowers and fruit.
This article will explore the best fertilizer options for strawberries throughout the year. Find out how to apply them, when is the best time to fertilize and organic options.
Fertilizing strawberry plants with pelleted chicken manure
Apply pelleted chicken manure 3 times over the year. Pelleted chicken manure contains nitrogen, micronutrients and organic matter which helps the plants to establish healthy roots and crowns.
If you have already improved your soil with lots of organic matter (like compost) and aged manures, then you do not need to add extra slow release nitrogen rich fertilizer like pelleted chicken manure. I find that with poor soils, strawberries need a small dose of chicken manure at the start of each season to replace the nutrients used up during fruiting.
I add a handful of pelleted chicken manure sprinkled around each plant. This is enough to feed them for 3 months which means they are ready for more at the start of each season.
Do not fertilize strawberry plants in winter. Strawberry plants will slow their growth over this time so will not be absorbing a lot of nutrients. When the weather warms in spring, get ready to give them more pelleted chicken manure to fuel their growth.
Fertilizing strawberry plants with potash in spring
Give strawberries a dose of potash at the start of spring. Potash comes in a liquid form which can be applied up to every 2 weeks or as a powder which is applied less often. This will encourage flowering and fruiting. Follow the instructions on the pack to work out the exact dose because each brand will differ slightly.
I like to wait for 4 weeks after the start of spring before putting potash on my strawberries.
This is a great solution if you are not getting strawberries. Remember that new runners will need at least a year to establish before they start producing fruit. New seedlings can produce fruit in their first season. Plant them in fall to make sure they are established in your soil before spring arrives.
How to use specialized strawberry fertilizers
To make it even easier, reach for a specialized strawberry fertilizer. These already have the balance of nutrients the berries need to grow large and produce a large harvest.
How to fertilize strawberries in spring
My favorite thing to do to encourage good strawberry growth over spring is to sprinkle a small handful of pelleted chicken manure. My strawberries are grown in a raised garden bed so need nutrient replaced regularly.
If your strawberries are growing in rich, fertilize soil then you may not need to add this nitrogen rich fertilizer in spring.
Give the plant a dose of liquid or powdered potash around 4 weeks after the start of spring. You can repeat this again as indicated on the pack. Repeating again in 4 weeks will encourage the plant to produce more flowers and fruit.
How to fertilize strawberries in summer
I like to give my strawberry plants another small handful of pelleted chicken manure at the start of summer. We have very warm, humid summers so nitrogen is broken down quickly in the soil by soil bacteria and worms.
If you have very good soil, then you can skip this step. Keep watering the strawberries well to keep them growing strong and producing flowers and strawberries.
How to fertilize strawberries in fall
Fertilize strawberries again with pelleted chicken manure. This will help the plant to send out runners ready to produce new plants. These will establish over fall and winter and will be ready to grow on their own in spring. You can snip them off and move them to their own pot or a new space in the garden.
Fertilizing tips for strawberries
Here are my top tips for fertilizing strawberries. It can be a tricky subject so here are few hints if you are not sure and want the best results.
1. Always water the strawberries after fertilizing
After fertilizing your strawberries grab your hose or a watering can and water the strawberries in well. Add a dash of seaweed solution to the watering can to help to feed the soil bacteria and improve strawberry root growth.
2. Too many green leaves means it is time for potash
If you are growing large, green healthy strawberry plants but are not getting any strawberries then it is time for potash. Lots of nitrogen in the soil will grow large healthy plants but they will prioritize leaf growth over flowers and fruit.
Give them a dose of sulfate of potash in liquid form to increase the ratio of potassium to nitrogen. This promotes flower and fruit growth. Repeat the process again in 2-4 weeks.
3. Mulch over the top of the fertilizer
After adding fertilizer to the plant take the opportunity to layer new mulch on the top of the soil. Straw mulch works well for strawberries and will help to keep moisture in the soil for longer. This will lift the strawberries off the soil to keep them clean and reduce the chance of pest attack.
Slugs and snails like to crawl along the soil and will munch on strawberries sitting on the soil.
4. Choose organic fertilizers
I like to choose an organic slow release fertilizer like pelleted chicken manure because it can be used safely on almost all plants in my garden. This makes it so easy to fertilize my whole garden including strawberries in spring.
Take the opportunity to sprinkle it on citrus trees, annual flowers, dig it through your vegetable garden and fertilize palms.
How to prepare the soil for new strawberries
Preparing the strawberries will feed them over the fall and spring. Planting strawberries in fall is a great idea because they will have the cooler months to establish. Spring is also a great time because garden centers will be full of new varieties, fresh seedlings and runners.
Before you plant new plants or runners, dig through aged cow manure and compost. These are my favorite mild fertilizers and add a ton of organic matter to the soil. This feeds soil bacteria and worms which will break down the organic matter to release the nutrients and make them available to the plants.
Best Fertilizer for Strawberries | Summary
Strawberries are easy to grow and if you have great soil then you will really need to do very little to keep them happy. Pelleted chicken manure is rich in organic matter and will slowly release nutrients over 3 months. Feed the plant with sulfate of potash in later spring to encourage more flowers and strawberries.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.