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WHEN AND WHERE TO BUY STRAWBERRY PLANTS


Nowadays it is quite possible to buy strawberry plants in spring, summer and autumn, it all depends on the growing method used to produce them. Runners are the traditionally cheap method but cold-stored runners and misted tip plants are also available.

We explain each of the four options available to you, when they they are normally for sale and the various advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Other pages on strawberries are shown below:

CALENDAR
 
WHICH VARIETY?
 
SOIL & POSITION
 
WHEN TO BUY?
 
PLANTING
 
CARE & HARVEST
 
PEST & DISEASES
 
PROPAGATION
 
POTS, GROWBAGS  

If you want to buy just a few strawberry plants then it's easiest to buy in spring when they are sold in the garden centres and online as potted plants. But that's not the only way to buy your plants and neither is it the cheapest method. Spring is also not the only time to buy your strawberry plants, they can also be bought in late autumn or July / August time. Each type of strawberry plant and the time to buy it is listed below. As far as suppliers are concerned always use well established companies and avoid buying from non-specialist outlets both on the the internet and the high street.

It's important to realise that, whatever the method of production, strawberry plants are graded by freedom from disease, size and vigour. The well-established companies have a reputation to protect and they will use only the top-graded plants. Cheap plants bought over the internet from an unknown source are liable to be cheaper initially but far more expensive and time-consuming in the long run.

POTTED PLANTS IN SPRING


Beginners to growing strawberries and those who only need a couple of plants will probably find this the most convenient method. In spring, potted plants for several varieties are widely available from garden centres and online companies. Bought individually the plants will cost £2 to £3 each. They will produce a small amount of fruit in the first year and then a good amount in years two and three.

STRAWBERRY RUNNERS


This is the most economical way to buy strawberry plants. They are sold from late September to early November and are dormant plants which have been dug out of the ground with most of the soil removed. if you order some and see them for the first time they look very sorry for themselves! No, or very few leaves and a mass of roots below a small brown crown.

They are cheap because they weigh very little, occupy very little space and can be sent through the post at minimal cost compared to potted plants. They have no significant disadvantages other than they need to be ordered in autumn when maybe strawberry plants are not uppermost in your mind.

 Strawberry runners are sold in bunches of 10 or more and you can expect to pay around 75p per plant. As with potted plants. Healthy plants will produce a crop the next year but will be at their best in the next two years. Click here for full planting instructions.

COLD-STORED STRAWBERRY RUNNERS


These are exactly the same as the more common runners described above however when they are dug up in autumn they are kept in cold storage over winter, in a dormant state. They are then offered for sale in Late March to April for immediate planting. they look exactly the same as runners.

They are much cheaper compared to potted plants, about 80p per plant. They are also sold in bunches of 10 or more. They must be planted immediately on receipt or at the very least heeled into moist compost for a few days. Their advantages are the cheap price and also the fact that they available when most gardeners are making plans for growing this year's plants.

MISTED TIP STRAWBERRY PLANTS


This method of producing strawberry plants for sale to gardeners in the UK is still in its infancy but it is most definitely becoming more popular. Below we give some basic details about misted tip strawberry plants:
  • They are available to gardeners in July to early August as small plug plants
     
  • Typically the plants are sold with three leaves and a well developed root system in a plug of compost about 7cm wide and 10cm deep.
     
  • They should be planted very soon after they are delivered to gain the maximum benefit.
     
  • If planted in July / early August the plant will settle in very quickly and will begin to establish some of those parts which are associated with flower production before the cold weather sets in.
     
  • The plants are grown from the tips of un-rooted runners which are planted into cells of compost. This typically begins in May and June time.
     
  • The tip plants are then carefully nurtured (nitrogen rich feeds) and misted with a fine spray of water for the first couple of weeks. This enables to plants to establish quickly. A month or so later they are ready for sale.
     
  • The key benefit to you the gardener, is that the plants will produce about double the number of strawberries the next year compared to runners. The plants will never have come into contact with the open ground ( the mother plants are also disease free) and therefore freedom from disease is much more likely compared to using other methods.
     
  • Cost per plant is in the region of £1.60

If you fancy giving misted tip strawberries a go in your garden, we have only ever heard good reports, then a few companies who supply them are listed below:

  • Unwins sell a choice of plants in packs of 6 potted plants.
     
  • D T Brown sell a choice of varieties including the very early Vibrant
     
  • Pomona Fruits appear to have the largest choice and their prices include postage and packing

If you want to know more about misted tip strawberries there are a couple of good articles on the internet, the one we found most useful was by Utah State University which can be found here.

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CALENDAR WHICH VARIETY?
SOIL & POSITION WHEN TO BUY?
PLANTING CARE & HARVEST
PEST & DISEASE PROPAGATION
POTS, GROWBAGS