Strawberries can grow well in shade and will actually benefit from afternoon shade in areas that get scorching hot summers. Strawberries grown in a lot of shade will take longer to flower and for the strawberries to ripen but you can still grow a big crop for a successful harvest in spring and summer.
This article will explore all you need to know about growing strawberries in shade and how to get the biggest harvest possible.
Find out my top tricks for more strawberries in a shady spot.
Tips for growing strawberries in shade
Here are my top tips to successfully grow strawberries in shade and get more flowers and fruit. I have been growing strawberries in shade in my new garden and they are growing lots of flowers and have set strawberries even in early winter.
Water them regularly – but not too much
Strawberries grown in shade will need regular water but not too much. The soil of strawberries that are grown in shade will not dry out as quickly as those grown in full sun. This is a good thing as you will not need to water them as often.
Making sure that you don’t overwater strawberries growing in shade is important. Always check the soil before adding more water so it doesn’t stay too wet. Stick your finger 1-2 inches below the surface and if it is dry, add some more water to the soil.
Avoid keeping the crown or the central stem of the strawberry too wet otherwise it can rot. Shade grown strawberries will keep moist for longer and channel more water into growing the strawberry fruit.
Mulch with straw or sugar cane
Mulching strawberries is important even in shade as it will work to prevent weeds and lift the strawberries off of the soil. This will reduce the risk of pests and diseases coming and eating your fruit before you get a chance.
My favorite mulches for strawberries are sugar cane and straw but I have also had success with fine bark chips. These stay around for longer and need to be replaced less frequently.
Good soil that drains well
Good quality soil is important to support all strawberries to grow well but is particularly important for those grown in shade. Making sure the soil drains well will help to prevent the roots from sitting in dense, wet soil.
Plants that are not grown in well draining soil will often show signs of overwatering with black marks showing up on their leaves.
To avoid this improve the soil first with aged cow manure and compost.
I have planted mine in raised garden beds this year or pots. Both of these help to increase drainage and I can move the strawberries around to find the perfect balance of sun and shade.
I have actually planted my new red flowering strawberry plant in worm castings. These worm castings have a high portion of garden soil that I recently mixed through the worm farm. This is a good balance of organic matter and garden soil which will hold the structure of the plant.
I can move these plants to a bright area in spring and then move them so they get afternoon shade in the hottest part of summer. We have been getting scorching summer days recently so potted strawberries give me the flexibility to protect them from sunscald on very hot days.
Do strawberries do well in shade?
My strawberries are growing in part shade and are thriving. I planted them out in Fall and in late winter they were already growing flowers and setting fruit.
A single plant that was grown in shade immediately sent out runners and grew around 5 baby plants which I had transplanted to pots and other areas of my garden.
Those grown in raised beds are thriving next to those grown in pots. These strawberries have bright pink flowers which are almost as enjoyable as the strawberries.
What happens if strawberries don’t get enough sun?
There are three main differences between growing strawberries in full sun compared to part or full shade. They will take longer to ripen, it can reduce pollination and they can take longer to establish to a larger plant.
1. Strawberries can take longer to ripen
The strawberry fruit that is grown in shade will generally take longer to ripen than those grown in full sun. You may notice the strawberry stay a lighter color and even stay green for longer. Strawberries will ripen quicker in full sun as the UV rays help the color and sugars to develop in the fruit
The slow ripening of shade grown strawberries is not always a bad thing and they do end up ripening eventually. Leaving them longer on the bush does risk bug attack who are more likely to find the strawberry the longer it stays on the plant.
2. Pollination can be less effective
Flowers will develop well on strawberries grown in part shade but pollination may be less likely. Bees tend to visit flower that are exposed to more sun. Although they do eventually find the strawberry flowers, I have found a lower pollination rate for my strawberry plants grown in shade.
This can be helped by planting annual flowers nearby. My orange tree that is in full flower does a good job of attracting bees in spring which helps with the pollination of my strawberries nearby.
3. Strawberry plants can take more time to establish
Most commercial growers will plant their strawberries in full sun or temperature controlled greenhouses. This speeds up the plant growth so they quickly establish into large, healthy plant ready to grow large, juicy strawberries.
Plants grown in full shade can take longer to establish but nothing that is too noticeable for your home garden. Compared to commercial growers, your strawberries may be slower to grow in shade but at the end, you will still get delicious fruit.
Can strawberries grow in shade? | Summary
Strawberries can definitely grow well in shade and produce deep green leaves, lots of flowers and strawberries for a spring or summer harvest. To grow the best strawberries in shade make sure you add a 2-3 inch layer of straw mulch, water them when the top soil is dry and grow them in well draining soil.
By following these tips you can have a big crop of strawberries even in a shady spot.
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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.