Strawberries need to ripen on the bush and will not ripen after picking. Wait until strawberries have turned bright red across the whole strawberry close to the stem and they will be ready to pick. Strawberries will ripen when exposed to sunlight so plant them in a sunny position for large red strawberries.
This article will explore the process of ripening strawberries on the bush, when strawberries will ripen and how to get them to ripen quicker.
Ripening strawberries on the plant
Here are the three stages of strawberries ripening on the plant that can be seen and how you know strawberries are ready to pick.
Strawberries start off green
Strawberries will start off small, hard and green. These tiny fruit (or groups of fruit) will grow larger over around 1-2 weeks until they reach their full size. How quickly the fruit ripens is influenced by the amount of sun, water and temperature.
Strawberries then turn white
Once the strawberry has grown to full size, the green strawberry will then turn to white gradually as it is exposed to the sun. There will be a time when the strawberry is half green and half white as it gradually turns white, usually from tip to stem.
Sunlight will turn strawberries red
Once the strawberries have turned white, they will then turn red This usually starts at the tip or the side that gets the most sun and then will extend to the rest of the strawberry. The part near the top usually ripens last because it is shaded most.
What season do strawberries ripen?
Strawberries will ripen at different times of year depending on the variety. Some will ripen in early spring, late summer or even have multiple harvests throughout the year.
Most varieties will ripen in the warmer weather anywhere from spring to summer. Check the label when you buy your strawberry to see when it will produce fruit. Wild everbearing strawberries are a great option if you love lots of small, sweet strawberries.
Choose large varieties like ‘sweetie’ to get large, red sweet strawberries in spring and summer. Choose a range of strawberry varieties to plant at home to have your plant producing fruit at different times of year.
How to get strawberries to ripen quicker
Strawberries can ripen quicker if you give them the right conditions light full sun, regular water and good soil. Here are my top tips for getting your strawberries to ripen quicker before picking.
Plant them in full sun
The more sunlight the strawberry plant and fruit gets the quicker it will ripen. Strawberries will grow from long stems from the center crown of the plant and will grow under the leaves. These leaves will provide the strawberries shade if they sit underneath.
Planting the strawberry in the sunniest spot possible will help them to ripen quicker.
Growing strawberries in hanging pots is a great idea because the strawberries can hang down get plenty of sunlight and hang out of the way of bugs.
Give the plant regular water
Regular water will help the strawberry to ripen and grow quickly. Regular water will keep the fruit growing larger quickly and consistently.
If the plant goes through a period of dryness, it can slow the growth of the fruit itself. This can still give you a ripe strawberry but it will be much smaller. Regular water will keep the strawberry plant growing more fruit and give you a larger harvest, particularly over summer.
Plant them in good soil
Good soil is the key to a healthy strawberry plant, which will give it the nutrients it needs to grow lots of fruit. More fruit that is exposed to lots of sun will give you ripe strawberries earlier in the season and throughout.
Good soil will give the strawberry plant the basis to produce lots of fruit quickly. I like to improve the soil with aged cow manure and compost is a great idea. This will contain a range of nutrients that are in balance and will be available for your strawberry.
Add a handful of pelleted chicken manure to the plant at the start of spring to give it a boost of nutrients and to help it to grow healthy leaves, roots and stems ready to grow fruit in spring and summer.
How to harvest ripe strawberries
The easy way to harvest ripe strawberries is with kitchen scissors. Using sharp, clean scissors snip the strawberry off the plant by cutting the stem 1/3 of an inch above the top leaves of the strawberry. This will leave a small amount of stem on the strawberry to help it to last longer once picked.
Strawberries can be kept fresh once picked inside in a cool kitchen but will keep for much longer in the fridge. The flavor will be dulled slightly in the fridge but it can be worth storing them cold if you are not planning on eating them that day.
How to stop bugs eating ripe strawberries
Bugs will quickly move in to nibble on ripe strawberries in an organically grown garden but there are some tricks to keeping your strawberries safe.
The best way to protect your strawberries is to layer mulch on the soil. This will help to lift the strawberries off the soil and help to reduce bug attack.
Growing strawberries in hanging baskets or raised garden beds will also help to keep them out of the way of bugs. Strawberries can hang over the edge of the raised beds to keep them off the soil and away from crawling bugs like slaters.
The next step to save your strawberries from bugs is to pick them as soon as they turn red. The minute you see them turn fully red, pick them for yourself and store them in the fridge. Kids will usually detect ripe strawberries in your bed before you do so let the, pick and eat them as a healthy snack.
Will strawberries ripen after picking? | Summary
Strawberries will not ripen after picking so wait until they are bright red before you take them off the plant. Most strawberries will start to ripen over spring and summer so keep your eye out for bright red strawberries and pick them as soon as you can. This will keep them away from bugs and in perfect condition for eating.
- Strawberry Companion Plants | Best Vegetables, Herbs + Flowers
- No fruit on strawberry plants | 9 Reasons Why
- Strawberries with pink flowers | Lipstick, Roseberry + Pink Panda
- Mulch strawberries with leaves | Tips and Tricks
- Mulching strawberries with wood chips | How to Guide
- Small Strawberries | + 5 Ways to grow them bigger
- Do strawberry plants need full sun? | Tips for sweet strawberries
- Strawberry plants and frost | Protecting your strawberries
- Can you plant strawberries and tomatoes together?
- Strawberry plants with red flowers | Grow Guide
- How to prune strawberry plants | Winter pruning guide
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.