One of the things you miss in winter is the taste of fresh fruit and vegetables. Strawberries are many people’s favorites and it is easy to have them fresh all year round by growing them indoors. Another good reason for growing them inside is that they don’t tend to suffer from as many pests and diseases as in the garden.
Before you start you have to realize that strawberries need a lot of light to flower and fruit. This can be achieved with a combination of natural and artificial lighting. A spacious, airy sunroom, conservatory or glazed porch is perfect combined with a few grow lights for the short days, but if you don’t have such a nice, light area, you can place your pots anywhere with a bank of good grow lights.
Types of Strawberries That You Can Grow Indoors
Your typical garden strawberry runners can be bought at most garden centers or nurseries. These produce the large and juicy strawberries that you are used to buying from the supermarket, although you will find that growing the plants under lights will produce smaller berries.
A nice change is to seek out alpine strawberries. These plants are a little smaller than the ‘normal’ types and the berries are a lot smaller, tiny in fact. But the great reasons to grow alpines is that they bear all year round, and the numerous berries are delicious. A full strawberry flavour with extra tang. Delicious.
Alpines also will not produce runners which can be a bother with the usual types. You can separate the plants every year to produce new ones, or grow new ones from seed from one of the fruits. It is easy.
Placement and Pots for Growing Strawberries Indoors
Strawberries don’t need huge pots like other fruits as they are small and don’t have large roots. Most pots with adequate soil for them to grow are suitable. It is important to place them well if you are using natural light combined with artificial.
If you have a sunny window during the day where you can place your plants, that is ideal. Natural sunlight is always best. If you don’t have anywhere with sunlight you will have to rely on grow lights, this means that you can place the pots almost anywhere. You have to be careful not to put them next to heating sources like radiators or they may get too hot, and the air around them will not be humid enough.
Lighting for Growing Strawberries Indoors
Strawberries need around 16 hours of sunlight a day. Hence, if you want to grow strawberries indoor in winter, you will have to add a bank of grow lights above them to give them extra hours of light. If they don’t get enough light they will grow leggy and refuse to flower.
There are many kinds of artificial lighting you can use to grow indoor plants, and more information about them can be found in this article: best glow lights for an indoor garden. This one is about microgreens, but similar concepts apply. You must use lights that are especially made for plant growing as they will provide the entire light spectrum that plants need.
If you go to a specialized store to buy your grow lights they will have expert advice and can show you what is best for your circumstances.
Soil for Growing Strawberries Indoors
You must use potting soil in your pots, not ordinary garden soil. You can get a good, well-draining soil in all garden centers, and some of them even contain fertilizer mixed in so you don’t have to worry about that for a while until the included fertilizer is exhausted which can take up to a year.
Your plants will need repotting into new soil every year as they use up the nutrients and the soil breaks down.
Watering can be one of the most frustrating problems you come across. The best idea is to stick your finger in the soil every couple of days, if it is moist an inch down, you will not need to water that day. There are a number of watering aids you can use to help you. You can buy a cheap meter that can tell you when to water, or you can use watering mats which soak up water and fedd it back to the plants through the base of the pots.
Pests and problems
I said earlier that strawberries don’t tend to suffer as much from pests and diseases as outdoor grown plants. That is true, but they can sometimes have problems and some to look out for are:
- Root aphids – these tiny, white, fluffy pests live on the roots of indoor plants. They suck on the sap and the plants fail to thrive. If you tip the plant half out of the pot and see them on the roots, you must throw the plant away. It is difficult or impossible to eradicate them. Root aphids tend to breed where plants are allowed to dry out too much between watering.
- Not enough light – If your plants are showing light-colored leaves and growing long and leggy, it is probably because they are not getting enough light.
- Fertilizing – If your plants are failing to grow properly, especially if they have been in the same pot for over 6 months, they may need a little fertilizer. Dose them according to the instructions on the packet.
- Wrong light – if your plants are stunted or not growing properly, even if they look healthy, you should check to see if you are using the right sort of light in your fixtures.
With a bit of time and experience, you will be eating fresh strawberries most of the year, while your neighbors are trying to eat those flavorless berries from the supermarket.