The hot summer and mild winter of California are ideal for growing strawberries, so much so that these fruits may be harvested year-round.
If you’re contemplating when to plant strawberries in California, late summer, especially August, is ideal for the entire state, but you can also plant in winter from October to December.
Read below for more details on the strawberry season in CA, including how planting time differs across locations.
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Best Time to Plant Strawberries in California
Depending on where you live, the ideal growing season for strawberries will change.
- Summer or fall is the best planting time in northern California and central parts of the state, as the weather in these places is cool enough for root growth but mild enough for strawberries to undergo dormancy during winter.
Generally speaking, August to October would be the months for planting if you live in these regions.
- As for those in southern California, July onwards is the recommended schedule for cultivating strawberries.
- However, winters in some areas of the state (namely zones 10 and 11) are so mild that year-round gardening is typically possible, and continuous harvests may be achieved if you choose day-neutral varieties.
Now that you know the general recommendations, here are the dates for growing strawberries in California.
Short-day (June-bearing) varieties produce one single crop throughout the season, while day-neutral and everbearing types are similar in that they bear fruits multiple times in a year (with the former being more productive).
Nurseries may refer to day-neutrals and everbearers interchangeably, so keep that in mind while you shop.
|Plant in summer/spring
|Plant in winter
Tips for Successful Strawberry Cultivation in California
1. Consider the plant variety
The best strawberry varieties for California are:
- Douglas, Pajaro, Chandler, Camarosa, and Sequoia for short-day varieties;
- Selva, Muir, Irvine, Fern, Hecker, Seascape, and Albion for day-neutral types.
It’s also wise to select disease-resistant strawberries and consider your hardiness region while buying transplants.
Seascape berries are hardy only up to zone 8, for example, so those in zone 9 and hotter areas of California will be better off with a heat-resistant variety like Camarosa.
2. Use raised beds to grow strawberries.
Raised beds minimize root rot, improve drainage, and allow water to soak into the soil more easily.
When planting strawberries, use beds twelve inches high with a two-inch-wide top. Aim for a pH of 5.5 to 7.5 and a spacing of eight inches between plants at the minimum.
If you have very little space and must use containers, buy 8-inch wide pots and fill them with a soilless plant mix.
3. Care for strawberries properly
For strawberries to grow well, they need six hours of full sun per day, a monthly fertilizer application low in nitrogen, and pine needles or straw mulch to ward off pests.
Avoid watering strawberries at the leaves and stems, and irrigate the roots with one inch of moisture per week.
Give the plants extra nitrogen if the leaves are pale green, and trim off runners to increase fruit size.
A good time to plant strawberries is when temperatures measure 60 to 80℉.
With awareness of when to plant strawberries in California, you can look forward to a fruitful harvest in spring or autumn at the very least.
No need to visit U-pick farms or grocery stores to get the strawberries you need! Collect them from your garden at home and juice, bake, or even turn them into jam. The possibilities are endless, and it’s all up to you how to enjoy these fruits.
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