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 Working with strawberry seedlings 
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Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 8:29 am
Posts: 1
Post Working with strawberry seedlings
Hello everyone,

We recently had a small love affair with strawberries, buying them from a local fruit stand. I decided to try to germinate some seeds, and hope for a few successes. Problem is, Ive had too much success!

I took a few finger-tips covered in seeds and spread them around the dirt of a couple small (2" diameter) starter-pots, figuring that I would have a good chance of a couple germinations.

in the last couple days, Ive had over 30 sprouts. My planters are covered in strawberry sprouts. Some of the early sprouters are starting to grow their first leaves, so i'm worried about the best method for ensuring healthy success when it comes time to move them over.

Do you folks have any advice for when/how to separate them and get them into their permanent locations? Should I try to separate them all, or let them crowd each other out for dominance? Will I have trouble with the roots getting tangled, and where in the growth period should I dare to upset their soil and move them?

I've never really done fruit growing before, but my wife is a bit more experienced than I, so she usually has a lot to offer when I dont know what to do, but I wanted to get some experienced info. I appreciate any seedling tips you might have. In a perfect world, I'd like to separate them all safely so I can populate a berry garden, and give some young plants to my friends and family.

Cheers all.

Mon May 12, 2008 8:42 am

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1186
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
…Nobody wants to take a stab at this? …OK, lets have some fun! I’d not have thought of planting the seeds of a strawberry … but you have me wondering what the characteristics of the plant and fruit will be..? Was it an “Everbearing,” or Spring production only variety? Has it cross-pollinated with another variety, thus creating a ‘highbred’ of sorts? Are they ‘true to their seed?’ Are strawberries self fertile? Are there male and female plants...? I’ve never known anyone to try this – you may have to educate us!

I’ve ‘wild strawberry’ plants all over my yard / orchard / field… they’ve been there for decades … likely dating back to when my Great-grandfather grew them in the teens! I suspect they're ‘seedling’ escapees from his plantings, as they’ve tinny little berries on very small plants.

Without having searched anything on strawberry cultivation, I’d spread the viable plants from 12 to 18 inches in a designated planting bed. If they’re ‘day neutral’ or “Everbearing,” they may produce some fruit late this summer; if they’re spring producers, like most commercial varieties, they’ll establish themselves this year and produce next spring. Literally starting from seed, you’ll likely have to wait until next year for fruit production. And as mentioned – I’ve no idea what kind or quality of berry you’ll end up with :roll:

Don’t know if you’re saving much money with this method ... a ‘bunch’ of five strawberry starter-plants aren’t all that expensive; and you’d know their characteristics. But with this method, you’ve at least tasted the fruit … and if they’re ‘true to their seed,’ may end up some good berries.

So listen to your wife with regard to their care; keeping in mind they’ll send out runners (that create even more plants) as they establish themselves. And you can likely find more on strawberry care with a sloppy search online than we’re capable, or willing, to describe here. But please keep us posted – just tack your additional observations on to this thread -- you’re definitely ‘our kind of people!’

Temperate Orchard Convservancy:

Fri May 16, 2008 11:22 am

Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:01 pm
Posts: 2
Post Re: Working with strawberry seedlings
Even though at this stage whatever has happened has happened, I might as well state this for the benefit of future readers: the time to prick out strawberry seedlings is as soon after the appearance of the first true leaf as possible. If you do it at the cotyledon stage, many will be damaged, if you wait after it has a couple leaves, you inevitably mangle the roots trying to separate them.

I'll also take a stab at the stab...

Everbearing or spring-producing ('junebearer' or 'short day'): If I wanted to play the odds I'd say it's likely a junebearer. If you had seedlings flowering the first year, it was probably an everbearer however.

Has it cross-pollinated?: Pretty unlikely--a very large majority of strawberry seeds will be the result of self-pollination, and since it was likely surrounded mainly (or solely) by plants of the same variety.

Are they 'true to seed'?: In general, no. The diploid 'alpine' or 'wood' strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are sometimes seed propagated, though, and these have been selected to come relatively true from seed. Most likely anything you got at a farmstand will not come true from seed.

Are strawberries self fertile?: Yes (at least all the commercial varieties are).

Are there male and female plants?: Only in the wild...commercial varieties are all hermaphrodites.

Growing out seed like this will produce a wide variety of offspring. Because it's going to be self-pollinations, the offspring will be quite inbred, and I would expect some would be unhealthy runts (the extent to which this is true varies a great deal between varieties). However, you should be able to find some good plants among them, and then you can propagate them via runners. Realistically, the odds are against any of the plants being as good as the original, but you ought to be able to find something passable among them, and then you have the thrill of creating a new variety!

Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:52 pm

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1186
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Working with strawberry seedlings
Thank you for all the answers!

As for ‘myself,’ I’ve those “wild strawberries;” you describe:

“The diploid 'alpine' or 'wood' strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are sometimes seed propagated, though, and these have been selected to come relatively true from seed. Most likely anything you got at a farmstand will not come true from seed.”

Are alpine or wood strawberries native to the US, if Oregon in particular? As described, I’ve got them running wild amid what constitutes a ‘mowed’ yard between my fruit trees and vines. They deffinately prefer one area over another, and I’ve always assumed they’re the progeny of once ‘commercial’ berries my Great-grandfather grew on this homestead…

Also, I’ve found what I assumed were truly “Alpine” strawberries growing in the sand just behind the first berm beyond the ocean waves of my favorite beach in Oregon… They are delicious! -- but as small as the ‘seedling’ or possibly native Alpines growing back here in Yamhill County. Is there any easy way of distinguishing between the two?

…and were I not always a long way from my vehicle on this lone beach … I’d have long ago pulled up a few runners/starts for back home – but vacationing has always won the day. – though we definitely have a feast 8)

Temperate Orchard Convservancy:

Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:58 am
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