You can grow strawberry plants in hanging baskets or in ground. But, you should note that water in pots dry out more quickly and can easily become soggy.
Letting potting soil to dry completely or leaving it with excess water can ruin plant growth.
It is essential to maintain adequate amount of moisture in the potting soil.
To ensure healthy growth, you must know how often and how much water does strawberry plant needs to grow.
University of Minnesota states that strawberry plant needs 1 inch of water every week to thrive and stay healthy.
Watering early in the morning will allow the extra moisture to escape into the atmosphere. Also, strawberry plant will have enough time to prepare its food with photosynthesis.
Later in this article you’ll learn about 1 inch of watering per week and which water is best for this fruit plant.
Strawberry Water Requirements
Watering needs of a plant varies according to climatic conditions, growing soil and amount of sun exposure.
Strawberry plants grown in pots require frequent watering when compared to those grown in raised bed or in ground.
During growing season, strawberry plant need more water. But, this doesn’t mean you should overwater them.
Like most plants, strawberry doesn’t like to sit in too much wet soil.
If the growing soil is too soggy, then try raised garden bed or container gardening.
As already mentioned, strawberry plant need 1-2 inches of water per square feet per week.
New gardener may wonder, how to measure 1 inch of water?
What does 1 inch of water per week mean?
Experts say 1 inch is equal to 6 gallons of water per square yard per week.
Or you can use a rain gauge to calculate 1 inch of water in your garden.
Though watering may seem a simple task and has no brainer, poor watering will turn your strawberry to dead.
Too much water, leads to overwatering and invite fungal infestation.
Too less water, dry soil results in shallow roots and yellow leaves.
Even when you water will have an impact on the plant. Evening watering often leads to bacterial and pests infection.
Knowing how often to water your strawberry plant based on your climatic conditions will not just save water but also plants.
How Much Water Does Strawberry Plants Need?
It is not easy to evaluate 1 inch of water per week for container gardeners.
Here is a simple trick. Water your strawberry plant generously till you see excess water is drained out. Now, the soil is completely moist and wet. Next you water, check the soil moisture with your index finger.
If 1 inch of the soil is sticky or moist, then don’t water. Water only when top inch of the growing medium is dry.
Note: Don’t allow the potting soil to bone dry completely.
There are few factors that influence your watering frequency. Like sunlight, growing medium, temperature and humidity.
Shallow Roots of Strawberry Plant – Important!
Strawberries have shallow roots that stay in top 6 inches of the heavy clay soil. In sandy soil, they can penetrate up-to 12 inches.
Understanding shallow roots of strawberry plants will allow preparing watering schedule accordingly.
Shallow roots dry-up quickly, as they can’t reach deeper layers for moisture.
How to fix:
You must repeatedly check moisture of top layer of the soil and water when the soil is dry.
Using mulch around the plant base will reduce the amount of moisture escape into atmosphere and will help to hold it for longer time.
Growing medium – must be well-drained soil
Potting mix or growing soil has major impact on watering strawberry plants.
You must choose soil that drains well with enough nutrients. As low levels of nutrients results in red strawberry leaves.
Container gardener can use perlite, worm castings, coco peat with garden soil to grow strawberry plants.
If your garden is fully of clay soil, then you can plan for raised garden bed. Add soil amendments like old compost, coco coir, and vermicomposting along with garden soil.
Mulching – will retain moisture
In hot days, when the temperature is high, you can use hay grass as mulch around the strawberry plant.
This will help to retain moisture for longer time and after few months it will add organic matter to the soil.
Overwatering Strawberry Plants
It is clear that your strawberry plant needs water, but it doesn’t want excess water.
Excess watering often results in root rot, yellow leaves, stunted plant growth and eventually reduce the yield.
Overwatering is common among those gardeners who’re growing strawberries in pots.
You may water your plant repeatedly out of concern. But, it can lead to death of plant.
Along with water, plants need oxygen for cellular respiration. Space between soil particles fulfils this need. But, when water sits for longer time your strawberry plant may feel suffocated and you might see signs of overwatering.
Discoloured and wilting leaves, stunted plant growth and drowning are signs by which you can say you’re watering too much.
How to revive?
Stop watering the plant and allow the moisture to dry. If possible relocate the plant container to full sunlight.
This enables evaporation of moisture.
If you think growing soil isn’t draining excess water effectively, you must repot the plant.
To determine the damage, remove strawberry plant from the pot and remove damaged root parts. Re-plant with left over roots in well-drained soil.
Water at regular intervals.
Underwatering Strawberry Plants
Like overwatering, underwatering is an issue that turns your plant leaves yellow and wilting.
This is very uncommon and happens mostly when gardeners go on unplanned vacation.
You can use drip irrigation method to keep the soil moist when you’re away enjoying your time.
To revive, you just start watering your plant generously.
Mulch around the plant if you notice water is drying out quickly.
How often should I water my strawberry plants?
Considering climatic conditions in your region, you must water at-least an inch per week.
Use your finger to gauge the amount of moisture in the soil before watering.
During growing season, strawberry plants need more water. You should water at-least 2 inches per week before fruiting.
Best time to water strawberry plants
Watering in early hours, in the morning will keep the plant healthy and avoid pests.
Evening watering can leave extra moisture on plant leaves and it’s an open invitation for fungal growth.
Guttation in Strawberries – helps to know if plant has enough water
Plant needs oxygen to breath, as mentioned earlier. When it takes extra water, it secretes the moisture through leaves. This process is called as guttation.
Cover your strawberry plant with a bucket in the night. Next day, in the morning if you notice water beads on leaves then it is a sign that your strawberry plant had enough water.
Strawberry Plant Care Tips
Mark these tips to grow healthy strawberries.
- Mulching will reduce watering needs of your strawberry plant. You can use hay grass, shredded leaves or pine straw.
- Strawberries have shallow roots. They need to be moisturized more frequently. Ensure the potting soil to be moist all the time.
- Avoid too much watering. Choose well-drained soil and a container with drainage hole.
- In later summer, when runners and flowers develop strawberry plant needs more water.
- This plant need full sunlight to thrive.
- Ideal temperature to grow strawberries is between 50F to 80F.
- Avoid night temperature below 30F, it will damage the plant.
Understand your strawberry plant watering needs according to environmental factors around it.
Growing pot, raised bed, location of the plant, temperature in your region, growing season and strawberry variety must be considered to determine how much water your plant needs.
An easy trick is to finger test the moisture and water when the top 1 inch is dry.