Strawberries are good for our cardiovascular health, and whether eaten fresh or as jams and preserves, they make for delicious and convenient snacks.
If you live in MI and want to grow strawberries, rest assured that they’re easy to cultivate within the state, so long as you know when to plant strawberries in Michigan.
In short, April is the best month for growing these fruits, though you can sow them as late as June or July and even up to mid-September and October in the fall. Read on for more tips on the gardening schedule.
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When to Grow Strawberries in Michigan
There are two main guidelines when it comes to planting strawberries in Michigan.
- The first is to plant in spring if possible. Fall brings with it temperature fluctuations that can harm strawberries. In fact, the soil heaving during this season may damage your plant roots beyond repair if you don’t give them adequate protection.
- If you must grow strawberries in the fall, do not put the plants in grassy or weedy areas where pests can compromise their health. Remember to mulch the soil when the weather reaches 20 to 30℉ as well. Otherwise, your crops will not survive until next year.
Just as importantly, calculate your gardening dates following these tips:
- Start growing strawberries in Michigan outside after the last frost. Though you may seed them if you like, strawberries don’t germinate easily, and it’s wiser to use bare roots or transplants to ensure success.
- For those determined to use seeds, sow them indoors eight weeks before the final frost and move them outside once the weather warms up. Note that before sowing, you’ll have to stratify the seeds for 1 month first.
- In the case of fall plantings, six weeks before the first frost is the latest gardening date. While marking calendars, look up the frost dates for both spring and autumn where you live to ensure accuracy.
For example, Detroit has its average last and first frosts on April 24 and October 18, respectively. Using the rules above, residents here can plant strawberry seeds on February 27 indoors or wait until April 25 to garden outdoors.
In the fall, they can start strawberry beds on September 6.
Read more: The best time to grow strawberries in other US states such as North Carolina, Ohio and etc.
A Note on Strawberry Types
When starting a strawberry patch, Michiganders can opt for June-bearing, everbearing, or day-neutral strawberries. June-bearers grow best in the spring, while the other two types can be planted in either spring or fall.
Examples of June-bearing varieties include Allstar, Earliglow, and Old North Sea, while everbearers comprise plants like Ozark Beauty, Eversweet, and White Pineberry.
Of all three categories, day neutrals like Tristar and Tribute strawberries have the highest productivity and bear fruits the longest.
Planting in Upper Vs. Lower Michigan
Though it’s possible to grow Michigan strawberries in the fall, it’s better to end your planting season earlier. Those in the lower peninsula should finish gardening by June, while farmers in the upper peninsula should have their strawberries planted by July.
How long does it take to grow strawberries in Michigan?
Since strawberries take up to three months or 90 days to bear fruits, whether we use bare roots or seeds, a planting time of April will result in a July harvest. Note that some strawberries may mature in sixty days as well, making a fruit yield in June possible.
Can strawberries survive Michigan winter?
Yes. Strawberries will enter dormancy in winter and resume growth in spring with proper care. In Michigan’s zone 4 and 5, they often go dormant in November, while in the state’s zone 6, this often occurs a month later.
If you grow strawberries in pots in Michigan, water, mulch the soil, and move the pots to a southern location during winter. For plants that are in-ground, remove all dead leaves and cover the soil with four inches of pine needles.
Are strawberries perennial in Michigan?
Yes. Strawberries are perennial in Michigan. Expect them to last for at least two years, though six years are possible with proper management.
It’s important to note that fruit production often declines from the third year onwards, so you may want to grow new plants before the current ones die.
How to fertilize strawberries in Michigan?
Before planting a strawberry patch, conduct a soil test to acquire fertilizer recommendations. If this isn’t possible, apply a balanced 12-12-12 formula one week before planting.
Go for a ratio of one fertilizer pound per 100 square feet at this time, and one month later, feed the strawberries with a 10-10-10 formula. Instead of 100 square feet, one pound of fertilizer should now cover a 20-foot row.
From the second year onwards, reduce the amount of plant food to 0.5 pound per 20 feet. Fertilize once after harvests but not in spring.
When to plant strawberries in Michigan? Generally speaking, spring is the optimal period, with fall being a close second in terms of conditions.
Before growing strawberries, schedule your planting using our guidelines, and message us if you have any more questions on this topic. Thank you for reading.