Strawberries will produce flowers and berries in their first year. Pinching off the first flower stems will encourage the plants to establish and grow stronger and last longer. It is up to you whether you leave the flowers on and allow the fruit to grow in the first year.
Planting strawberries in fall will give them enough time to grow a deep root system ready to grow berries in spring and summer.
This article will explore all you need to know about the first year of strawberries from your new plant. Find out more about pruning and how to get the most berries from your plant quickly.
Strawberries produce the most in their first year
Commercially grown strawberries are actually replaced every year as the plant is most productive in its first year. At home you can keep a strawberry plant productive for at least 3-4 years. This can be achieved by pruning off the first flowers so the plant grows a strong root system and crown.
I had planted my strawberries in fall and they were growing flowers in early Spring. They have already set fruit and we are only 2-3 weeks into spring this year. Allowing the plant to establish in fall allowed them to be ready to grow flowers while still growing strong roots.
Should you remove the first year flowers?
Most experienced gardeners will recommend removing the first flowers that are grown on the plant. This will encourage the plant to establish its roots and grow into a larger, healthier plant. In the long run you will get more strawberries but this will mean you will need to wait for your crop.
This is particularly important for strawberries planted in spring.
If you have planted your strawberries in the fall they will have had all winter to grow. By spring they will be more established and be ready to grow fruit. It is up to you as to whether you can wait for strawberries and pinch off these first flowers.
I know I can’t wait and I am leaving mine one this season. The fruit is still setting well and there are around 10 strawberries on each plant already at the start of spring.
Do strawberries grow runners in their first year?
Strawberries can grow runners in their first year. Mine quickly sent out around 5 runners in Fall which quickly established and grew into new plants. After this there were no new runners sent out and the baby plants are growing flowers and berries.
You can leave these runners on to establish which will result in the mother plant being smaller than it would have without growing runners. Trimming off the runners is easy if you want to allow your main plant to focus the energy on growing rather than producing babies.
Simply grab some secateurs and trim off the runner close to the main plant. When spring comes the strawberry will generally focus on growing flowers rather than runners.
Grow more strawberries quicker in the first year
If you are like me and you are keen for strawberries as soon as you can there are some ways that you can set up your plant to grow lots of berries without needing to wait. Here are my tips for growing lots of strawberries in the plants’ first year.
Plant in fall
To get strawberries in your first year it is best to plant out new seedlings in fall to allow them time to establish. The mild weather of fall is perfect for allowing new strawberry plants to grow deeper roots and a solid basis for growing fruit in spring.
The plant will then have plenty of energy saved up to grow flowers and new berries in spring and summer. I have successfully started growing fruit from my 5 strawberry plants in the first year I have planted them.
Getting in early and planting them in fall was a good idea and I have found most nurseries to start selling strawberries in fall and spring. Both are great times to plant but if you can manage to get it done in fall then they will be more established and will grow more fruit by spring than those just planted out.
Raise them up
The next way to encourage more strawberries from your first year plants is to plant them in soil that is slightly raised. This will allow better drainage and encourage a healthier plant.
Good quality soil
Good quality soil is key to establishing a healthy strawberry plant quickly. Mixing through aged cow manure and compost before planting will allow a root system to establish well and absorb the nutrients it needs ready to grow fruit in spring.
This can be enhanced by adding some pelleted chicken manure to boost nitrogen in spring and then in late summer add some high potassium fertilizer. This will help the plant to grow large, juice and delicious fruit throughout the warmer months.
Do strawberries produce the first year? | Summary
Strawberries will produce fruit in their first year and more successfully if they are planted in fall. You can pinch of the first flowers to establish a larger and more robust plant int eh long run. If you are like me and keen for strawberries as soon as possible you can leave these flowers on and they will grow berries.
You may find that the strawberries grown in the first season are smaller because the plant itself will be smaller and less established. These fruit will still be sweet, delicious and worth the wait.
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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.