North Carolina ranks among the top producers of fresh market strawberries in the United States, along with California, Florida, and New York. The state grows about 1,700 to 2,000 acres of strawberries annually, and you can do so, too, in your very own garden.
One of the keys for thriving plants and high yield is knowing when to plant strawberries in North Carolina.
Strawberry season is in full swing every spring but growing strawberries in North Carolina actually starts from November up to March in eastern NC while areas in central NC and western NC start planting in March up until April
Table of Contents
- Best Time to Plant Strawberries in North Carolina
- Strawberry Planting Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Time to Plant Strawberries in North Carolina
NC has a humid subtropical climate, just like in SC and in Georgia, which is characterized by hot and humid summers and moderately cold winters.
The state spans five USDA hardiness zones: the western mountainous region being in zone 6a while the eastern coastal region is in zone 8.
1. Western region
The best time to plant strawberries in North Carolina depends on what zone your garden is. Raleigh, NC, for example, is located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and it spans Zone 7 and 8. The ideal planting time for strawberries in this city is from March to April.
In Charlotte, NC, the state’s most populous city, the best time to plant strawberries is likewise from March to April.
2. Eastern coastal region
In the south and east coastal regions of North Carolina which are in zone 8a, the planting season for strawberries begins in the fall, from November up until March.
Strawberry Planting Guide
Strawberries are pretty versatile plants that can be planted directly in your backyard soil, in a raised garden bed, or in pots or containers.
Like many plants, strawberries grow well in an environment where their growing requirements are met. The guide below will help ensure that strawberries are healthy and thriving in your garden.
Things you’ll need
- Gardening tools
- Well-drained soil
- Strawberry plug plants or bare root plants
- Mulch or row covers
Step 1: Check the soil requirements
Fertile, well-drained soil is a must if you are expecting a high yield. If your soil needs more nutrients, you can replenish it by adding organic matter such as compost or manure.
Strawberries also prefer soils with acidity levels between pH 5.5 to 6.2. There should be a sufficient provision of nitrogen for strawberries to grow.
Therefore, you can approach your local agriculture unit to have your soil acidity tested.
Step 2: Choose your starter plants
There are different ways to grow strawberries. Many commercial producers use bare root plants while home gardeners typically purchase plug plants. Starting strawberries from seeds is another possible but not widely used option.
- Bare root plants are typically dormant and are sold without soil on their roots.
- Plug plants, on the other hand, are actively growing strawberry seedlings.
Whichever type you choose, it is always best to purchase from your local garden centers to ensure that the plants are healthy and disease-free.
Step 3: Plant your strawberries
Pick a sunny spot in your garden or home as strawberry sunlight requirements involve full sun exposure of at least 8 hours a day. Plant strawberries outside when temperatures are between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you have decided on the location, plant your seedlings, spacing them about 12 inches apart to allow room for growth.
Water the strawberries after planting and continue watering daily until the plants are established and are starting to grow. Remember to keep them hydrated as the temperatures get warmer.
Step 4: Protect the plants from frosts and extreme temperatures
Temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit may damage the flowers and developing fruits. To protect the plants from sudden frosts and extreme weather, cover them with straw or mulch, or install row covers. This is especially important if you are residing in western North Carolina.
Extremely high temperatures of more than 86 degrees Fahrenheit is also likely to cause stress to your plants. Place a shade cover over them to minimize direct sunlight.
Step 5: Fertilize and wait for the fruits to develop
As the plants start to grow, add liquid fertilizer to the soil. Just make sure that you are following the label instructions and the correct dosage.
Fruits will begin to ripen about 4 to 5 weeks after the first flowers bloom and will continue to ripen for about 3 more weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best strawberries to grow in North Carolina?
The best and most common strawberry varieties grown in North Carolina are Chandler and Camarosa.
- Chandler is the top choice of many due to its bright red color and good flavor. It is also quite tolerant to cold and produces high yield.
- Camarosa is another variant that is gaining popularity for its large, firm fruit and superior shelf-life. Other varieties grown in NC include Albion, Camino Real, Sweet Charlie, and Ventana, among others.
What is the best month to plant strawberries?
Strawberry planting time in NC for spring-bearing varieties usually starts in the fall, around November to March when the temperatures are between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can you plant strawberries in June in North Carolina?
June might not be the best month to start planting strawberries in North Carolina as average high temperatures can reach 88 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your plant might experience stress in the extreme heat and flower and fruit production might be hampered.
Where do strawberries grow in North Carolina?
Strawberries can be grown in any region in North Carolina – in western, central, and eastern NC. Planting guide resources will help you determine the best variety and planting time for your location.
Can strawberries be grown from seeds?
While not the most popular choice, yes, strawberries can be grown from seeds. This is not the preferred method of most gardeners and commercial producers as growing strawberries from seed takes quite a while.
If you plan to do so, you can start them indoors in February and transplant them in March or April when the ground temperatures warm up.
Strawberry seedlings grown from seeds require the same care and growing conditions as strawberries grown from bare root or plug plants.
Strawberries are great plants to grow. If provided with the ideal growing conditions, strawberry plants will produce plenty of flavorful and nutritious fruits for several years. In order to grow them successfully, gardeners must know how and when to plant strawberries in North Carolina.