Small strawberries will grow from alpine varieties or if the strawberry plant is not getting enough water or sun. Strawberries that get too much nitrogen or do not have enough space to grow in a pot or garden bed will also grow small strawberries. Grow bigger strawberries by watering them deeply in summer, mulch them with straw and choose a large variety such as Albion or Diamante.
Small strawberries – Causes and Solutions
Small Strawberry Varieties
Some species of strawberry will grow small, sweet fruit naturally instead of big strawberries. Alpine strawberries are wild strawberries from France and grow small strawberry fruit. American wild strawberries are also smaller. They are rich in flavor and delicious.
Choose strawberry varieties that grow larger if you want big fruit like Albion, Allstar, Aroma, Diamante and Ventana.
Not enough water
Strawberry plants that do not get enough water when they are forming their fruit will grow small oddly shaped strawberries. Deep watering regularly during the time the strawberry plant is growing flowers and fruit will give the plant enough water to grow bigger strawberries.
Water strawberries 2-3 times per week deeply to reach the deep roots and keep the plant moist for longer. This will encourage the strawberry to grow roots down into the soil growing a healthier plant and larger strawberries.
Too much heat
Very hot weather during spring and summer can cause strawberry plants to grow small fruit. The plant will conserve water and energy and put less energy into growing the strawberry. To keep the plant growing well on days that are very hot, water them deeply in the morning.
Draping 50% shade-cloth over the plants is a great way to protect the plant and strawberries from excessive heat. This will help the plant to keep the fruit it has formed and continue to put energy into growing them bigger. Remove the shade-cloth once the hot weather has passed.
Not enough pollination
Pollination is key to growing healthy strawberry crops. Efficient pollination of the plants flowers from one to the other is key to healthy, large strawberries. Outdoor strawberries will be pollinated by insects such as bees whereas indoor strawberries will need your help with a small paint brush. Move the pollen from one flower to another to cross pollinate and encourage large fruit.
Too much nitrogen
Strawberry plants that get too much nitrogen will grow lots of leaves and small fruit. Nitrogen in the soil encourages good leaf and stem growth which is great when the plant is establishing in the soil. Once it has settled in, do not add more nitrogen fertilizer after the flowers have formed.
Strawberry plants that are large, have lots of leaves and small fruit are usually getting too much nitrogen. Give them a feed of fruit promoting fertilizer which will increase the potassium level and encourage more and bigger fruit.
Not enough space
Strawberry plants that are grown too close together or are pot bound will grow smaller strawberries. The plant roots will struggle to get the nutrients the plant needs to form the strawberries and they will grow small.
Re-pot strawberries that do not have enough space into bigger pots or raised garden beds. Move plants that have grown from runners around 10 inches away from other plants to give them the room to grow their roots and take up the nutrients they need. In the next year you will give bigger strawberries.
Old strawberry plants
Strawberry plants that are more than 3 years old usually grow smaller strawberries than in their first 2 years. Let your strawberry plant grow runners and small strawberry plants from the mother plant. Once they have established in the ground, cut them off and move them away from the main plant.
The new plants will grow bigger strawberries in the first year and the mother plant can eventually be removed as the leaves die off.
Planting the strawberries in the right way
Strawberries can grow small fruit if they are planted too low in the ground. Covering the crown or center of the plant with soil will stop the strawberry plant from producing large strawberries. A plant that is struggling to grow because it is covered too deep in soil will produce smaller strawberries or none at all.
If you discover that your strawberry is planted too deep, lift the whole plant out of the ground and re-plant it. Make sure the soil level is below the crown and the roots are covered in soil well. Water it in and your plant should recover to grow bigger strawberries in the next growing season.
How to grow small strawberries bigger
Trim off runners to keep 1 main plant
Strawberry plants can quickly grow runners and new baby plants on the end of these. This can cause the main plant to focus on growth rather than producing strawberries. Trim of runners before they set in the ground if you want your one main strawberry plant to produce bigger strawberries.
Add good quality mulch
Mulching strawberry plants is key to bigger and juicier strawberries. Use straw or sugar cane laid 2-3 inches deep around the root zone of the strawberry plant. This will keep soil moisture in and stop the fruit from sitting directly on the soil where it can pick up disease or insects.
Bigger strawberries will grow if the plant is kept moist, if weeds are kept away by the mulch and the strawberries are kept clean and free of bugs.
Water strawberries well
Strawberries love regular water so keep the soil moist over the summer growing months. Test the soil and water the plants deeply 2-3 times per week when the weather is very warm. This will help the plant keep the moisture it needs to grow big strawberries and grow into a healthy plant.
Use fruit promoting fertilizer
Fruit promoting fertilizer can be added to your strawberries in spring to increase the potassium levels. Sulfate of potash is an example of a high potassium fertilizer that can promote fruit and flowers. Do this only if you are struggling to grow strawberries as you plant can grow big and delicious strawberries if they are planted straight into good quality soil.
Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers while the fruit is forming. The fertilizer below from Amazon is organic and made to help you grow more strawberries. Check it out on Amazon.
Plant strawberries in a sunny position
Sun is the key to healthy strawberry plants and bigger strawberries. Choose the sunniest position in your yard when you plant out strawberries and trim back any branches from shrubs or trees that might be blocking the light.
Lots of sun will give you big, delicious strawberries on your plants.
Small Strawberries – Summary
Choose a strawberry variety that has been bred to grow large fruit for the best strawberry results. Smaller strawberries can still be delicious and can sometimes become sweeter as the natural sugars are more concentrated. Water, sunlight and mulch are the keys to big and delicious 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.
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