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Easy Tips to Safely Transplant Strawberries

Jana is a frugal DIY addict who is always testing fitness and work-from-home ideas as well as natural health tips for both humans and pets.


What You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Small shovel
  • Sharp scissors
  • Pots (not necessary if the plants are moved to a garden patch)
  • Small plastic bags to serve as temporary containers if the plants are moved to the garden of another house
  • If the above scenario is the case, also find a box in which to place the strawberries
  • Water

Prepare the Plants

Depending on where they find themselves, pre-transfer treatment differs slightly for each strawberry plant. Overall, focus on minimizing the stress of replanting as much as possible.

For this to happen, make sure that the strawberries are not sickly or dry. A healthy strawberry plant has dark green leaves on strong stalks, which will appear stiff yet flexible. Hydration is very important to maintain this form so if the stalks on your plants look limp or withered, give the strawberries some water first (and time to recover).

If the strawberries are potted, pour some water until it runs out the bottom of the pot and then leave them in the shade. Don't transplant immediately, because the soil will be too soggy. And if handled at this point, the roots risk exposure or harm during the transfer. The plants also need ample time to drink their fill.

Strawberries growing in the garden need a closer eye. Where potted strawberries can be left until the next day, one must gauge when a garden batch is hydrated and ready. Usually, it is best to choose a mild day, then water in the morning and wait for the soil to look firm but moist. Again, this will make extraction safer.

Watch the Roots

When its roots are damaged, any plant risks death. The best way to preserve root integrity is to keep them contained in a clump of the original soil. This is why the soil cannot be too dry (the roots will snap when the plant is pulled) or too wet (the soil will slip off the roots instead of maintaining a protective clump).

This article will provide tips in each section on how best to treat the roots during extraction, whether you are switching pots or planting the strawberries directly into the ground.

Moving Strawberries From One Pot to Another

After a few hours or the next day after a good soak, your strawberry is looking strong and the soil is clammy and solid.

If you're working with a single strawberry in a small pot, just tip it upside-down. Keep the plant between your fingers and prepare to catch it. Tap the bottom until the plant dislodges and slides out. While upside-down, gently break away most of the soil but keep the roots inside an earthy ball.

Prepare the new pot by filling it with a good grade potting soil. When the plant's root ball rests on top of the soil and the strawberry is level with the pot's edge, then you have added enough soil at the bottom of the pot.

Fill up the rest of the space around the roots and gently press to even out the soil around the plant. Water carefully, and then place in a location where it receives indirect sunlight and is also safe from the wind for at least a day.

Cut the Cord

Garden strawberry plants are all linked together with vine-like stalks. These need to be cut before removing a plant from the earth.

Garden strawberry plants are all linked together with vine-like stalks. These need to be cut before removing a plant from the earth.

Potting a Garden Strawberry

When a strawberry is removed from the garden to a pot, much of the process remains the same. Once you have the plant in hand, you whittle a root ball, pot the strawberry, and give it some water. Removing it in the first place, however, requires more care.

Strawberries left to their own devices will populate the earth around them. Sometimes, when a long stalk touches the ground, it sprouts roots and develops a new plant. Eventually, what appears as multiple plants is actually a network of strawberries that are physically linked as one.

Pick the strawberry plant that you wish to pot and using sharp scissors, cut all the stalks linking it to the others. Snipping these stalks will not harm the plant.

Once free of the network, the strawberry is ready for removal. Take the small shovel and place the tip a few centimetres away from the stem. Too close and you risk harming the roots. The earlier soak should allow the shovel to penetrate deeply into the sand without too much effort. Drive the tip down at an angle towards the plant. At one point, it should lift the plant when the shovel is pushed flat towards the surface. Continue to work like this until the strawberry can be removed.

From One Patch to Another

If you wish to move your strawberries from one part of the garden to the other, then dislodge them in the same way as described above.

Simply dig a hole at the new location and add a little potting soil if you wish. Plant the strawberry, firm the ground around it, and water. Make sure that you don't move plants on a windy or hot day.

Carefully Lift the Plant

Don't press the shovel too closely to the stem when digging out the plant. Ideally, one should push the shovel in once and deeply. Then lift the plant free.

Don't press the shovel too closely to the stem when digging out the plant. Ideally, one should push the shovel in once and deeply. Then lift the plant free.

When Strawberries Hit the Road

You're moving house and don't want to leave your outdoors strawberries behind. Maybe you sold or gifted a few, and you know the new owner wants them in their own garden. Either way, sometimes strawberries need to be transported, and new pots are a waste if the plants are destined for a vegetable garden.

You can use plastic bags instead. Go for the type that is already on the small and narrow side. Those with the perfect shape include bags that once held a loaf of bread or fruit. Basically, any temporary vessel can be used since you don't need to make holes at the bottom (you'll see in a moment why).

If you don't have a store of baggies, use shallow Tupperware or even small bowls from the kitchen. If the plants are about to be sold, however, it's best to use plastic bags.

Temporary containers don't need a lot of soil. Just enough to cover the root ball and keep it from touching the bottom of the bag. Prepare a box beforehand by lining it with a newspaper or a refuse bag.

After planting each strawberry in its own bag, place them inside the box. Give each a splash of water (don't soak), and if possible, let them stand overnight to recover and hydrate. If the strawberries are kept in this way for a day or two before being transported and planted out, then no water holes are necessary.

Additional Quick Tips

  • Use the opportunity to give your strawberry a facelift. These plants tend to naturally have dry leaves near the bottom. Remove them with a few quick snips before re-potting.
  • Don't fertilize immediately after re-potting or planting out. Both are stressful events, and the plant needs its resources to adapt, not grow. Wait about a week and if possible, use a natural fertilizer that doesn't "burn" when given too much by accident. One safe example is fish emulsion, which should be available at the store or local nursery.
  • If the strawberries are planted directly into the garden, make sure beforehand that the night weather will be clear and calm. Strawberries are tough cookies and should easily survive a transplant, but heavy rains or hail could spell the end of your new patch.
  • If your potted strawberry has long stalks, place another pot next to it. Lightly pin a tuber down in the soil of the new container using a U-shaped wire. Who knows, maybe you'll spawn a baby strawberry that way!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What are the advantages of transplanting strawberries?

Answer: As long as strawberries prosper, there are no advantages to moving the plants. However, when their pots become too small or overcrowded, then transplanting into bigger pots can boost their health. The same counts for a strawberry patch. These plants can procreate in a prolific manner. Too many together can cause competition for soil nutrients and sun (which affects the quality of the fruit). When strawberries are widely spaced, one can spot pests like snails more easily as well.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit