To plant strawberries at the correct depth, first, prepare a garden bed with 6–9 inches (15–23 cm) of soil to allow the strawberry root system room to develop. Then, lay out rows of strawberries in your garden so that the strawberry plants are 12–18 inches (30–45 cm) apart. Next, cover the rows with plastic sheeting to prevent soil from covering and damaging strawberry crowns. Before planting, trim the roots of each strawberry plant to a length of 4 inches (10 cm). Finally, plant your strawberry plants with their crown poking out of the soil. Planting your strawberries too deep causes their crowns to rot. Plant them too shallow and the exposed roots will dry out.
5 Steps to Plant Strawberries at the Correct Depth
You can grow a thriving strawberry patch within your first growing season if you follow a few steps to plant your strawberries the right way. Doing so will set all types of strawberries up for success. To prepare soil and plant your strawberries at the proper depth, just follow these steps:
Prepare a Garden Bed
Your strawberries need garden beds with 6–9 inches (15–23 cm) of loose soil for their roots to form. Whether you are planting your strawberries in the ground, in pots, or in raised beds, provide at least 6 inches (15 cm) of soil. It helps to till the soil before planting in the ground, since this will loosen the dirt and allow for healthy strawberry root growth.
- Plant your strawberries in beds with 6–9 inches (15–23 cm)of soil.
- Rent a rototiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 9 inches (23 cm) before planting strawberries.
- Use soil preparation as an opportunity to add this ammonium sulfate to increase soil acidity.
Tilling and preparing the soil is also the perfect time to mix amendments into the soil. Strawberries thrive best in acidic soil with a pH between 5.4–and 6.5. Test your soil with this pH meter. If you need to increase the soil acidity for your strawberries, mix ammonium sulfate into the soil to create the perfect strawberry habitat.
Plan Your Strawberry Rows
Plant strawberries in rows spaced 12–18 inches (30–45 cm) apart. This will allow their root systems to spread. If you plant your strawberries too close together, the roots could get tangled together and compete for nutrients.
- Lay out a strawberry patch with rows spaced 12–18 inches (30–45 cm) apart.
- Individual strawberry plants in each row should also be spaced 12–18 inches from one another.
- Choose a sunny location for the best strawberry production.
It’s a great idea to plan and mark your rows when planning your strawberry patch. This will make the following steps easier. Make sure to follow our tips for helping your strawberries produce more fruit when choosing your planting location.
Cover the Rows with Plastic
If the crown of your strawberry plant is covered in soil, it can cause disease and rot that kills your strawberry plants. To prevent this, cover each row of soil in your strawberry patch with plastic. Simply unroll a length of plastic sheeting along the row, cut it to the length, and bury the edges of the plastic in the soil to keep it in place.
- Cover each row where strawberries will be planted with one layer of this plastic sheeting.
- Bury the edges of the plastic sheeting in the soil to keep it in place.
- You will later plant strawberries by cutting holes in this plastic sheeting.
Not only will plastic sheeting prevent you from planting your strawberries too deeply, it will also prevent weeds from sprouting in your berry patch. Even better, the runners that strawberries send out won’t be able to take root. You’ll be able to easily snip off strawberry runners so your plants focus their energy on berry production.
Trim Strawberry Roots
Before planting, remove your strawberry plants from their tray, pot, or other container. Then, use a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears to trim the roots of each strawberry plant. The ideal length for strawberry roots is 4 inches (10 cm) long.
- Use these pruning shears to trim strawberry roots to 4 inches (10 cm) long before planting.
- Trimming roots stimulates new growth and prevents the roots of strawberry plants from competing with one another.
- For easier trimming, soak the roots of your strawberry plants for 30 minutes before trimming.
Trimming your strawberry roots before planting stimulates new growth and prevents tangled, overcrowded roots in the soil. In order to make trimming easier and less shocking to your plants, soak the roots of the strawberry plants in water for 30 minutes prior to trimming.
Plant Your Strawberries
Once you’ve trimmed the roots of your strawberry plants, it’s time to plant them in the ground, pot, or raised bed. First, make a slit in the plastic covering your garden bed. Then, dig a hole 2 inches (5 cm) deep and as wide as the roots. Put the strawberry plant in the hole and fully cover the roots. Repeat every 12–18 inches (30–45 cm) to fill out your garden with strawberries.
- Cut an ‘X’ shape in your plastic at the location where you want your first strawberry plant.
- Fold back the plastic flaps and dig a hole 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
- Make the hole wide enough to fit the strawberry roots.
- Plant your strawberry in the hole.
- Make sure the crown of the strawberry plant is not buried.
- Repeat for your remaining strawberry plants.
You must plant the strawberries with their crown exposed. Find the crown by taking a good look at your plants before putting them in the ground. The crown is the thickened stem at the center of the plant. The crown must be above soil level and should be visible above the plastic layer. IF you bury the crown when planting your strawberries, the plants will suffer.
What Happens if You Plant Strawberries Too Deep?
Planting strawberries too deep causes the crown to rot. The crown will first fail to set more leaves and flowers. Soon after that, it will start to turn brown and mushy. A rotten crown will result in the plant dying altogether.
- Planting your strawberries too deep will result in the crown rotting.
- The crown will first stop setting leaves and flowers before turning brown and mushy.
- A rotten strawberry crown will result in the plant dying.
- The base of the crown needs to sit right on top of the soil.
- All the roots should get fully covered with soil for the best results.
The base of the crown should sit on top of the soil. The correct positioning of the starter plant will keep all the roots under the soil, too. You should carefully watch your plants through the growing season to confirm they stay at the right depth. If not, remove or replace the soil as needed.
How Deep Do Strawberry Roots Grow?
Strawberry roots grow to an average depth of 6 inches (15 cm). However, the roots of some strawberry plants can reach as far down as 9 inches (23 cm). Strawberry roots typically spread out 12 inches (30 cm) just under the surface of the soil.
- Strawberry roots grow 6 inches (15 cm) deep on average.
- Strawberry root systems spread out 12 inches (30 cm) just beneath the soil surface.
- Your strawberry plants have both primary and secondary roots.
- Primary roots regrow every year from higher and higher up on the crown.
- Support strawberry root growth by adding about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil around your plants each season.
Your strawberry plants have both primary and secondary roots. The primary roots last for about one year. After that, new roots grow from nodes higher up on the crown. So, it’s important to add 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil around your strawberry plants at the start of each season. Just be sure to keep the soil level with the base of the crown and the top of the root system.
How Shallow Can You Plant Strawberries?
Strawberry plants can grow in a minimum of 6 inches (15 cm) of soil. 9 inches (23 cm) of soil is better. You must plant your strawberries with the roots fully covered. The soil cannot go over the top of the crown though.
- Strawberry plants will grow in as little as 6 inches (15 cm) of soil.
- Plant your strawberries with the roots fully covered.
- Do not cover the crown of the plant with soil.
- You can grow your plants in 6-inch-tall by 12-inch-wide (15 by 30 cm) containers.
- Use bigger containers to grow multiple strawberry plants in one pot.
Strawberries grow well in shallow containers. Choose a container that’s at least 6 inches (15 cm) deep for the best results. The pot should be 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter to fit all the roots as they spread out. Using a whiskey barrel style planter, window box, or a large container allows you to fit multiple plants in one pot.
How Deep Should You Plant Strawberry Plants?
When planting strawberries at the optimal depth, you should:
- Prepare a garden bed or planter with 6–9 inches (15–23 cm) of soil.
- Allow 12–18 inches (30–45 cm) between plants to prevent plants from competing.
- Cover the soil with black plastic to prevent crown rot and weeds.
- Trim strawberry roots to 4 inches (10 cm) long.
- Cut a hole in the plastic and plant your strawberries in a hole 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
- Plant your strawberries so the roots get fully covered in soil and the crown stays exposed.
Plant your strawberries at the right depth and they’ll produce well for several years. If you keep replanting their runners, you’ll continue to have strawberries to harvest for a long time to come.