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How to Grow Strawberries from Seed

Garden Expert999 is a keen amateur gardener who has spent a lifetime pottering about in the garden, when she gets the time.

Newly transplanted strawberry seedling

Strawberry seedling

Strawberry seedling

Why grow strawberries from seed?

A really quick way to increase your stock of strawberry plants is to grow your own from seed.

Plants grown this way one year, will fruit the next.

Strawberry plants are perennial, need very little care, and are easy to grow. While most commercial strawberry growers replace their stock entirely every three years or so, strawberry plants actually go on fruiting for many years to come, with no apparent loss of productivity.

Should I buy seeds, or can I grow the seeds from a shop-bought strawberry?

You can grow from either, but I would strongly advise, if buying, that you only buy seeds from a reputable dealer who will be able to supply F1 hybrid seeds. These seeds have been carefully produced under laboratory conditions, and will come true to the parent.

The reason for this is the seeds from a shop-bought strawberry, or from the seed of an existing strawberry plant you already have, could have many parents due to cross-pollination by birds and insects.

This means there is every chance the seedlings may not carry the characteristics of the parent plant you so admired.

That said, your baby plant may be better. The strawberries that grow from it may be sweeter, bigger, more bug-resistant.

Equally, they could be small, sour and prone to infestations.

Most are likely to be somewhere in the middle and perfectly edible and sweet.

This is the chance you take when you grow strawberries from seed.

The reward, however, is that you will increase your crop quickly and it is easy in future years to pull out the poorly performing ones, while increasing your stock of good strawberry plants through their runners.

Strawberry Seedlings

Strawberry seedlings

Strawberry seedlings

Grow strawberries from a strawberry - how to choose your strawberry

If you have some strawberry plants already, choose an over-ripe fruit that has the largest and most protruding seeds that you can see.

If growing from shop-bought fruit, go through the container and try and find the ripest, the reddest, the one starting to turn rotten, as it will give you the best chance of a good result.

Do not use an imported strawberry, because most countries irradiate them in transit and they will not grow. It really has to be a strawberry grown in your country.

If none of your strawberries are fully ripe or over-ripe, don’t worry, it can still be done, but germination will take longer.

Mine took over 4 weeks to germinate and as you can see, they are germinating at different rates, with some tiny ones in the pot alongside more mature ones.

Strawberry seedlings are especially small at germination, much smaller than most plants with similar or smaller-sized seeds.

Most shop-bought strawberries will have also spent time in cold storage whilst in transit, unlike your own home-grown strawberries.

if growing from your own, pop the seeds into the fridge for a week or two before planting.

Shop-bought Strawberry

Strawberry

Strawberry

Collect your seeds

Collecting strawberry seeds from a strawberry is a little labour-intensive. There is no way round that. I have read of various techniques like putting the fruit in a blender alongside some water and then letting the fruit and the seeds separate out, but I find it easiest to just take a toothpick or sharp knife, and pick off the seeds.

You can also simply slice the skin off the strawberry, seed and all, and plant them.

Place them in a pot or tray of finely sifted compost and barely cover the skins, or, if using seed only, leave on the surface of the soil.

Water well, and leave in a warm, bright place, out of direct sunlight. Strawberry seeds need light to germinate.

Don’t collect too many seeds. Strawberries have a very high germination rate.

The seeds on the outside of a strawberry

Macro image of the seeds on a strawberry

Macro image of the seeds on a strawberry

If you enlarge the macro image of the outside of a strawberry above, look for the seed that is almost dead centre in the photo. What looks suspiciously like a tiny insect lurks there.

What to expect to see when your strawberry seedlings emerge

This photo was taken using a magnifying glass, the seedling is so tiny. My compost, which was top quality, looks lumpy and obtrusive to such a tiny seedling. This is why you should sift your compost to make it as fine as possible.

Newly-emerging strawberry seedlings are tiny

My First strawberry germinated seedliing

My First strawberry germinated seedliing

How to identify your strawberry seedling

Every plant seems to emerge with two round leaves, but the second set of leaves will often show you characteristics typical of the parent plant.

Strawberries are no different.

Here are two photographs, one with a weed seedling in a pot alongside the strawberry seedlings (even if grown indoors, weed seedlings can be dormant in your compost), the other a close up of a true strawberry seedling (taken with a macro lens).

Weed seedling in pot

Weed seedling in pot

Weed seedling in pot

First true leaf of a strawberry seedling

Macro image of strawberry seedling leaf

Macro image of strawberry seedling leaf

The 6th true leaf in all my strawberry seedlings shows the typical 3 lobed split

Strawberry seedling

Strawberry seedling

When to transplant your new strawberry plant.

Once your strawberry seedling has developed at least two true leaves, it can be transplanted into a 2” pot of its own. To do this, gently ease it out from the pot it is in, holding by one of its true leaves and not the stem) and make an indentation in the compost of the pot you are moving it to. Slip the rootball into the hole and re-arrange the surrounding soil to cover the stem. Then gently water it to help its roots settle down in its new home. Leave in a sunny spot to mature further.

Planting out

Your baby strawberry plant should not be put outside until it has grown and strengthened Into a proper little plant that will survive attacks from insects or birds.

if you have a greenhouse or conservatory, you can keep them there over winter and plant them out in the spring, after a hardening-off period. This is when you put plants outside, in their original pot, for a gradually extending time each day to accustom them to the sold, wind and rain, or in hot countries, the full sun and heat of the normal weather in your area.

Best time of year to propagate strawberries

Late winter/early spring is the best time of the year to propagate strawberry seeds.

This is in order to give your seedlings enough time to mature before the winter sets in again.

I started mine off in mid-summer, and by autumn they were still too small and immature to put out in the garden, or into their final growing positions.

As I don’t have either a greenhouse or conservatory, I am going to have to make space for them inside the house over the winter.

Strawberry plants are perennials and normally die back in the winter, sending out new leaves in the spring.

They can be placed in a well-lit but cool part of the house until spring. They will not need much water over the winter months when they are not actively growing.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 GardenExpert999

Comments

Danny from India on September 01, 2020:

GardenExpert999, really nice tips. I am bringing the strawberry seedlings from the nursery. Your tips will come real handy.