“I really like to grow strawberries, but it’s so difficult here in Florida, finding the right time of year and location in our yard plus dealing with pests. Can they be grown inside?” Question from Lisa of Bradenton, Florida
Answer: Don’t totally give up on growing strawberries outdoors. When grown outdoors in Florida, strawberries are grown as annuals and planted in fall for spring yields.
Outdoor Strawberries in Florida
If you want to give outdoor strawberries a try, it’s all about the timing and strawberry choice. The earlier the variety, the better. In fact, many have been bred specially for Florida growing. Of these, ‘Chandler‘ (medium, early fruit, Florida friendly) and ‘Radiance‘ (high early yields, Florida friendly), come highly recommended. (To find more strawberries suitable to your Central-Florida growing area contact your local extension agent by clicking here. I also recommend you read the University of Florida page about growing strawberries.) For planting guidelines, please watch the video below.
Indoor Strawberries in Florida
Strawberries also grow very well in greenhouses, conservatories, or sun rooms. The key is providing high light and managing growing temperatures, water, and food. You also need to be sure you choose everbearing/day-neutral varieties that will produce fruit through winter. Of these, I would choose the highly disease-resistant day-neutral strawberry, ‘San Andreas’, or the high-yielding ‘Evie 2’. (Nourse Farms has lots of great day-neutral varieties that can be purchased as early as January for indoor growing.)
Cross-pollination increases fruit set, even though strawberries are largely self-fertile. Poor pollination can result in small or misshapen fruit, so indoor growers may considering cross-pollinating flowers by hand for better fruiting. Just take a small brush and move pollen from one flower to another.
If you have enough indoor sunlight for strawberries, invest in a space-saving strawberry tower. Fill it with quality potting mix, such as Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix, which is approved for organic gardening. Soak your new strawberry starts in water for a few hours, plant them in your tower, add a slow-release fertilizer for fruiting, and water until the soil is just moist (never wet). Strawberries grow best in temperatures between 60°F to 80°F. If you see any pests on your plants, spray them with an OMRI Listed insecticidal soap.
I hope these guidelines help! Please let me know if you have any additional questions, and happy strawberry growing!