Strawberries are a cool season crop in Florida, and the time to plant is now! Make sure the growing conditions are right and take care to fertilize, water, and protect your crops from animals. Follow our harvest guidelines and choose one of these Florida-friendly cultivars.
Unlike other parts of the country, Florida’s summer is too hot to support strawberry crops. Strawberries are a cool-weather crop here, and now is the time to prepare to plant!
Planting: When, How, and Where
When to Start Planting
Strawberries require temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees and can’t have more than 14 hours of daylight. Because of these growing condition requirements, planting times vary slightly depending on where in the state you are located.
- South Florida: Wait until next month to plant. Plant between October 1st and December 1st.
- Central Florida: Plant between September 25th and October 25th.
- North Florida: Plant between September 15th and October 15th.
It’s best to plant strawberries from transplants instead of seeds. You will most likely find bare-root transplants, but container (plug) transplants may also be available at local nurseries or garden centers. Make sure to use rich potting soil or media with good drainage, and space the plants 10 to 18 inches apart.
Where to Plant
Strawberry plants are versatile as far as where they’ll grow. You can put them directly into the ground, grow them in containers, or plant them in a raised bed. They need full sun for at least 8 hours.
Care for Your Crop
Ensure a healthy strawberry crop by watering often and regularly applying a balanced fertilizer.
If there is a risk of a freeze or even frost, cover the plants with a light sheet, blanket, or other cloth. As with other cold-sensitive plants, this will protect the fruits and flowers from being damaged or killed.
You may face an issue with rabbits or birds infiltrating the garden. If this is the case, use netting to try and keep out the animals.
When to Harvest
The first strawberries will be ready to harvest about 100 days after planting, give or take a week or so. You’ll know that the berries are ready to be picked when they are three-fourths red. Don’t wait until they are entirely red (or let them sit long if they are) because the fruits rot quickly. It’s a good idea to harvest every two to four days.
You’ll see two or three cycles of fruit production and can expect flowering to continue until about May.
Remember that fresh strawberries don’t keep for long! Go to town on the basket of berries, put them in a pie, eat them with dessert, or freeze them for later.
We suggest one of these Florida-friendly cultivars:
Sweet Charlie is the top commercial variety grown in our state. The variety is disease-resistant, produces very sweet fruits, and gives a high yield.
Camarosa produces a delicious, large, early-season fruit. It is the best option for North Florida.
Chandler produces a high yield of large, firm berries. The harvest is early- to mid-season.
Oso Grande produces a high yield of large, flavorful, and firm berries.
Selva has a lower moisture content than other cultivars, but the plant produces a large, firm, and durable fruit. It will fruit within three months of planting.
Festival is an excellent choice if you live in Central Florida.
As always, we suggest visiting your local nursery for more information on the best strawberry cultivars to grow in your area!