How Much & How Often to Water Strawberries? Factors, Tips, & FAQ
Strawberries are fun to grow and produce a tasty fruit that many people enjoy. Many starter garden systems include strawberry seeds because they are easy to grow. However, many people aren’t sure how often they need to water them to get the best harvest. The short answer is that you will need to water them several times a week, but keep reading as we explain how to know when your plants need water and when you are watering them too much.
How Much Water Do Strawberries Need?
Strawberries typically require 1–2 inches of water per week for optimal growth. Larger plants will need more water, and you will also need to provide more water when the temperature rises.
Watering at the Right Time
Strawberries have shallow roots, so they need consistent watering. Sporadic watering can enable the roots to dry out, affecting growth and even killing the plant. Making up for dry soil by giving it extra water is equally as dangerous because the soggy soil can lead to root rot or mold growth.
How Do I Know If My Strawberries Need Water?
Consistent, scheduled watering will usually yield good results, but the best option is to test the soil before you water it, and the finger method works well. To test the soil, stick your finger into the dirt to a depth of about 2 inches. If the soil feels damp, there is enough water. Dry soil will need water, and soggy soil will alert you that you are watering the plant too much.
If you don’t provide your strawberry plant with enough water, you will likely notice that it has much fewer leaves than it should, and the leaves will be small. The plant will also produce fewer strawberries that don’t taste as good as they usually do.
Plant age can also affect how frequently your strawberries need water. For example, younger plants tend to hold water better than older plants and can go longer without water. Older plants will be more susceptible to even a minor drought, so a strict watering schedule is important.
How Do I Know If My Strawberries Are Getting Too Much Water?
Strawberry plants that get too much water tend to wilt, which can cause some people to worry that the plant isn’t getting enough water. However, more water will likely only lead to root rot and a small harvest if the plant continues to live.
If you are overwatering your strawberry plant, you will likely notice that many of the leaves have brown edges, and their condition will only worsen. Excess water in the soil removes oxygen-containing air pockets that your plants need to grow properly. Cutting back on the amount of water that you provide and removing the brown edges will help you get your strawberries back on track.
Tips for Growing Strawberries
When the weather starts to get warm, adding mulch under your strawberry plants will help prevent the soil from drying out too quickly. However, in cooler temperatures, the mulch can enable mold to grow.
Choose the Correct Variety
There are several strawberry varieties available to grow in backyard gardens. Taking the time to look through them thoroughly to select something that will grow well in your area can greatly impact your ability to grow them successfully and will likely allow you to get a larger harvest.
Check Soil Frequently
Strawberries have shallow roots, so frequent watering is required to keep the soil moist without adding too much water that can damage the roots. Testing your soil frequently using the finger method will help you ensure that your plants always have the right amount of water.
Use a Bucket to Test Hydration
You can use a bucket to see if your plants are getting enough water. Place the bucket over a strawberry plant, and let it stay there overnight. If you remove the bucket and there is water on the leaves, the plant has enough water. If the leaves are dry, it is dehydrated.
Use a Hygrometer
A hygrometer is an inexpensive tool that you can use to accurately keep track of the moisture content in your soil. It’s an ideal solution for people who struggle with the finger method, and it works just as well, if not better. Hygrometers are easy to find at your local hardware store or online. Some models will also tell you the pH of your soil and provide other helpful information.
Strawberries have shallow roots, so you must water them several times weekly. For the best harvest, test the soil frequently, and water it when it starts to feel dry. If the plant starts to wilt, you are giving it too much water, and you will need to water it more often if it only has a few tiny leaves. Choosing a variety that grows well in your area can be a big help, and some varieties grow better in pots, so consider where you will plant before making a purchase. If you have a hard time testing the soil, use a hygrometer, as they are not expensive and remove much of the guesswork about when you should water your plants.
Featured Image Credit: Katharina N., Pixabay