As you may already know, Florida is the winter strawberry capital of the world. Strawberries are grown as perennials annually both commercially and as home production.
It is time to prepare your beds and set strawberry plants this month. Strawberries also make a colorful and tasty container planting.
There are three varieties of strawberries that are suggested for the Florida home garden:
Camarosa, Sweet Charlie, and Festival
All three of these varieties produce an attractive flavorful berry suitable for eating fresh or freezing.
The Camarosa berry plant has been the most productive plant variety in North Florida. It is mainly grown by commercial growers because of their high yield and its firm fruit which makes it great for shipping.
The Festival berry plants are a low-growing hybrid perennial that is prized for its sweet, aromatic red fruit. Its fruit is large and firm and is fungal and disease resistant. It requires relatively few daylight hours for flowering and fruit set. Festival berries hold their flavor well after shipping and are known as a great commercial berry
The Sweet Charlie produces more fruit during the early part of the season and has been the most productive varieties in Central Florida. Just like the name says. These berries taste like they sugar on them fresh from the field. The Sweet Charlie plant is a vigorous disease-resistant berry plant.
General Growing Conditions
Strawberries require quite a bit of sunlight. They grow best in a location receiving at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If a full sun location is not available it is best to choose a spot that is sunny during the morning and early afternoon. The soil should be well drained and slightly acidic (pH 5.5–6.5).
Most strawberry plants grown commercially in Florida are planted in double rows on soil that has been mounded into raised beds. This method also is recommended for home gardens. Raised beds (as compared to flat beds) create a well-drained soil environment in which roots have sufficient oxygen for survival during periods of heavy rain.
If you do not have an outside garden don’t worry you can plant your strawberries in a handling basket or in a pot!
If you decide to use a hanging basket you will need to make sure you can suspend the strawberries off the ground to help keep slugs, snails and sow bugs off of them. Depending on the size of the basket you can fit about five to six strawberry plant on the top of the hanging basket. But if you would like to make the ultimate hanging basket plant use a 16 inch wire basket, some potting soil and some sphagnum, coconut fiber or a specially designed basket liner. Next, line the wire basket with the damp sphagnum, coconut fiber or basket liner and insert 18 of the plants into the baskets sides through the moss. After you have finished, fill the basket with potting soil and the remaining plants on the top of the basket. This basket will continue to produce fruit for about 3 years. It is important to make sure the basket gets rotated to insure all the plants are receiving adequate light.