Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil, with the ideal pH range between 5.5 and 6.5. Planting strawberries in soil that is less acidic will result in poor growth and fewer high-nutrient berries. If you have alkaline soil, make the proper soil amendments prior to planting your strawberries. This will allow for the highest quality fruits and the overall best fruit production.
Why Do Strawberries Prefer Slightly Acidic Soil?
Acidic soil provides a strawberry plant with the necessary nutrients it needs to thrive. Phosphorus and Iron, key nutrients needed for healthy strawberry growth, can be tough for strawberry plants to get from the soil if it isn’t acidic enough. This can lead to smaller plants with discolored leaves, and a crop that doesn’t taste as good.
- All strawberry varieties thrive in slightly acidic soil.
- Strawberries need the right soil acidity to grow properly.
- Nutrients like iron and phosphorus can be difficult to obtain in less acidic soils.
Soil that isn’t acidic enough prevents proper phosphorus uptake by your strawberry plant. Strawberry runners are usually shorter in phosphorus-deficient strawberry plants. Shortened runner growth means your strawberries won’t produce new plants. This can make it difficult to fill in empty space if you’re using the matted-row system for your strawberry beds.
How to Make Soil Acidic for Strawberries
It’s always best to test your soil’s acidity before you plant strawberries. Proper soil preparation is key for the best crop production. Use this soil testing kit to get the best reading on your target strawberry patch. If you find your soil’s pH to be above 7, consider adding one of the following amendments to the soil before planting:
- Aluminum sulfate
- Peat Moss
- Cottonseed meal
It’s best to adjust your soil pH level for strawberries in stages, especially if you need to lower it by more than one point. Aluminum sulfate can show signs of lowering your pH level within a few weeks, but too much too soon can easily burn strawberry roots. Retest your soil after a few weeks of adding any amendments and make any necessary adjustments from there.
Do Strawberries Like Coffee Grounds?
Coffee grounds can be a great plant food for strawberries. This is mostly due to the increased nitrogen coffee grounds added to the soil. Strawberries in particular need additional nitrogen in the first month of planting, especially if leaves start to turn yellow. A healthy dose of nitrogen promotes green leaf and stem growth.
- Coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil, which is beneficial for strawberries.
- Only fresh coffee grounds will make the soil acidic enough for strawberries—used coffee grounds have less acid.
- Soil amendments like sulfur and aluminum sulfate are cheaper and faster ways to improve acid soils.
Coffee grounds can also be used to make your soil more acidic for strawberries, but only if you apply unused, unwashed grounds directly into the soil or the soil surface. Used or washed coffee grounds have a soil acidity of around 6.5, so they won’t impact your soil’s pH level. So, instead of spreading fresh coffee on the ground, it may be cheaper and more effective to use one of the soil amendments discussed above.
Can Soil Be Too Acidic for Strawberries?
Soil pH below 5.5 means your soil is too acidic for strawberries. Remember, the lower the number on your pH test the more acidic the soil is. The ideal range for strawberries is between 5.5 and 6.5. If your soil is too acidic for strawberries, take the necessary steps to correct it. This often involves spreading calcitic or dolomitic lime in stages to reduce soil acidity.
- Soil with a pH lower than 5.5 is too acidic for strawberry growth.
- Reduce soil acidity by applying lime to your garden.
- If acidic soil is not corrected, your strawberries will struggle and produce no fruit.
Soil that is too acidic for strawberries can severely impact their growth. If your soil’s pH is below 5.5, your plants will struggle. Strawberry plant growth will be slow and weak, and your plants will produce almost no flower buds. No flower buds mean no fruit, so it’s crucial to make sure your soil isn’t too acidic for strawberries to grow.
Can Strawberries Tolerate Acidic Soil?
Before you begin your strawberry planting, do the following:
- Test your soil’s pH level. The ideal range for strawberries is 5.5 to 6.5.
- If your soil is not acidic enough, apply any soil amendments like aluminum sulfate, sulfur, or peat moss.
- If your soil is too acidic, apply lime to correct it.
- After allowing time for your soil amendment to work, retest your soil’s pH level.
- Repeat this process until you reach the optimal pH level.
Providing the right soil for strawberries will allow your plants to grow properly and provide the best ripe fruits. If your soil isn’t in the proper pH range, no amount of care and watering will help them grow to their full potential.