How Deep Do Strawberry Roots Grow? What You Need to Know!
Strawberries are one of the tastiest fruits in the world. Their plants are unique due to the way they reproduce and grow, and one of the fascinating things about them is their roots. Unlike most other berry plants with deep roots, strawberries have shallow roots; they typically grow to 6 inches deep in the soil, but they can occasionally be deeper. Since their roots are shallow, strawberries require more maintenance to grow healthy and strong.
Read on to learn more about strawberries, their roots, and how deep they grow.
What Are the Parts of a Strawberry Plant?
Before we provide a deeper explanation of how deep strawberry roots grow, you need to know more about the parts of a strawberry plant. Each strawberry has five main plant parts:
- Runners and daughter plants
- Flowers and fruits
The crown is an essential part of the strawberry plant that acts as a central trunk from which other strawberry parts grow. Typically, when planting strawberries, people plant bare crowns in the dormant phase; before planting, strawberries have just a couple of leaves and smaller root systems.
Runners & Daughter Plants
Strawberry plants have runners, which are long stems located at the base of the crown. The ends of runners later form into crowns, take root, and become the daughter plants. Each strawberry variety produces different runners, so some varieties may have many while others only have some. You can prune the runners off or allow the daughter plants to spread, depending on your needs.
Strawberry leaves develop from the axillary buds located in the plant’s crown. Each bud stalk produces oval leaves, which are commonly dormant from fall until spring.
The roots are an essential part of any plant, including strawberries. Most of the time, the roots on this plant are shallow and remain in the top inches of the soil. However, that varies based on the type of soil they grow in and your strawberry variety.
Since strawberries have roots shallower than most other plants, they frequently compete for water and other nutrients. Additionally, when new strawberry roots grow every season, they appear higher and higher on the crown, which may require adding additional soil to cover them up.
Flowers & Fruits
Strawberry varieties that bear fruit typically start blooming from May to July. The flowers first develop on stalks that rise from the crown, and later on, the flowers produce fruits depending on the strawberry variety. Some strawberry types produce fruits only once a season, while others have multiple fruiting times.
Types of Strawberry Roots
Strawberry plants have two types of roots:
- Primary roots — These are the main strawberry plant roots. They carry water and nutrients from the soil and transfer them to the plant’s crown. The primary roots in strawberries are perennials, and they can live for multiple years.
- Secondary roots — These roots are also known as the feeder roots. They are finer than primary roots; unlike them, they’re short-lived and get damaged quite easily. The primary function of secondary roots in strawberries is to absorb the nutrients and water that the primary roots will transfer to the plant.
How Are Strawberry Roots Produced?
Typically, strawberries produce roots after frost, starting in late winter/early spring up to the next winter when the ground will freeze again. However, strawberry roots love milder temperatures, which is why they grow and form the best in spring and fall.
The roots absorb and transfer enough water and nutrients to the plant’s crown. However, strawberry plants in their first years have immature root systems which may struggle to provide everything a strawberry needs to grow successfully. Because of that, it’s best to prune off strawberry fruits in the plant’s first year until the root system correctly forms.
By pruning off the flowers in the first year, you’ll allow your strawberry plant to develop its roots enough to support the plant and provide enough nutrition for proper growth.
How Deep Do Strawberry Roots Go Into the Soil?
As mentioned, strawberries typically have shallow roots that grow 3– 6 inches into the soil. However, depending on the strawberry variety and soil type, the roots can reach a depth of around 12 inches. One of the most significant factors that will affect the depth of the roots is the soil in which the strawberry plants grow.
- When you plant strawberries in clay or heavy soils, you can expect the root depth to be in the top 6 inches of the soil.
- When you plant strawberries in light or sandy soil, you can expect the root depth to penetrate between 9 and 12 inches into the soil.
Because strawberry roots are shallow compared to most other plants, strawberries are frequently susceptible to water issues. The depth of the roots is occasionally not deep enough to provide the needed water to the plant. However, overwatering can also be a problem due to the shallow roots. When people overwater strawberries, the roots absorb too much water, which could result in root rot.
Another problem that strawberry plants have due to their shallow roots is competing with other plants for nutrients. Because of that, strawberries may lack enough nutrients and need fertilizing. It’s also common for weeds to attack strawberry plants because of the shallow roots, which is why you should prune any harmful plants growing around your strawberries.
What Would Happen if You Plant Strawberries Too Deep?
When planting strawberries, it’s essential to plant them at a proper depth, which is typically a couple of inches into the soil. The crown should remain at ground level for the plant to develop properly. If you plant the strawberry plant too deep, the crown will fail to set into the ground, resulting in the plant turning brown and becoming mushy.
If the crown rots, the whole strawberry plant will die. That said, correctly positioning the crown into the soil is crucial for your strawberries to grow healthy and strong.
Is There a Way To Improve a Strawberry’s Root System?
Every year, strawberries produce their roots higher and higher up the crown. The high roots may interfere with the overall functioning of the plant, which is why you need to add additional soil around the new roots and cover them up.
Typically, it’s best to add an inch of soil to the strawberry bed and the plant crown every year. However, remember not to cover the crown of the plant entirely because that could cause plant damage or even death.
Tips for Planting Strawberries for Best Growth
When planting strawberries, it’s essential to know the best way to plant them for proper growth without disturbing the roots. Here are some of the best tips on planting strawberries to achieve the best growth:
- When planting, ensure that the plant’s crown remains at the ground level. If the crown is deeper in the soil, it may rot.
- Plant strawberries indoors until there’s no frost to prevent them from dying.
- When planting strawberries, place them 12–14 inches apart to allow their root systems to spread and prevent the plants from “fighting” with each other for water and nutrients.
- If possible, plant strawberries in well-draining, loose, slightly acidic soil.
- Choose a sunny location where your strawberry plants can get between 6 and 8 hours.
Strawberry roots are shallow, so you can expect them to grow around 6 inches deep into the soil. However, their roots can grow slightly deeper in lighter soils, commonly around 12 inches. Remember to plant the strawberry crown at the ground level and ensure that your plants get enough water and nutrients to survive.
Featured Image Credit: engin-akyurt, Pexels
- 1 What Are the Parts of a Strawberry Plant?
- 2 Types of Strawberry Roots
- 3 How Are Strawberry Roots Produced?
- 4 How Deep Do Strawberry Roots Go Into the Soil?
- 5 Is There a Way To Improve a Strawberry’s Root System?
- 6 Tips for Planting Strawberries for Best Growth
- 7 Final Thoughts