How to Grow Strawberries from Seed (Wild Alpines too!)
The bane of my gardening career has been sprouting strawberries from seed. I had tried sprinkling in containers and letting nature handle it, directly sowing them into the ground, using sprouting trays, stratifying them in the fridge, and folding them up in a wet paper towel in a plastic baggy. None of these worked. I have tried and failed for years, but not this year! I have (finally) successfully sprouted my first (alpine) strawberry seeds!
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Other difficult seeds like parsley, carrots, nasturtium, and even PARSNIPS I’ve been able to start. Mostly, these do well being sprinkled directly in Self-Watering Grow Boxes and misted with a garden hose everyday until they sprout (all of them have long germination periods, since they’re winter/early spring veggies). They all like lots of water to get going.
They’ve driven me crazy. Sure, I’ve bought regular grocery-breed plants that are large and flavorful enough being fresh, but when I’ve come across new varieties I want to try that are ONLY available in seed form?
So this winter, as I was browsing “unisex gifts under $20” to bring to our 634 Christmas parties, I stumbled across this adorable Self-Watering Panda Planter. Ecstatic, I ordered one, and planned to steal it for myself (hehehe 😈) in our White Elephant gift exchange games.
I did end up with it, and was so excited to see that the seeds that came with the planter were wild strawberries! Also called “fairy berries” for their adorable size and tendency to “fly” over their leaves, unlike traditionally large and heavy hybrid strawberries, they’re also know for some amazing flavors.
Having failed so many times before, I was determined to succeed this time!
I opened the package, set it up—-according to pictographs, since the directions were in Japanese—added a few of my own Alpine Strawberry seeds to the peat disc, and waited—-and waited—-and waited.
Four weeks went by of me refilling the self-watering dish, without a single indication of germination. Some fungal fuzzies began growing on the peat disc, and I decided I’d need to throw them out.
Imagine my surprise when just 2 DAYS later, I looked at my houseplants above the kitchen sink, to see a tiny leaf protruding from the peat disc!
One seed sprouted!! YAY!
I promptly refreshed the watering dish and moved my precious baby strawberry plant right next to my AeroGarden.
The grow lights have been a great help in sprouting 4 MORE seeds, and I couldn’t be happier! I’m resisting giving them any fertilizer for a few more weeks, since I don’t want to burn them (liquid fertilizer is more bio-available for your plants, which means that it could uptake too many nutrients and die, instead of up taking them more slowly with natural fertilizer).
Okay, so here are my notes of how I sprouted these Strawberry Seeds:
Purchase Good Seed.
I’m a fan David’s Garden Seeds if I’m ordering through Amazon (Hooray for Prime 2-Day Shipping (click here for your 30-Day Free Trial))! They have all organic and heirloom varieties, which is super important to me, since I want to be able to save my own seeds, and I’ve had really good germination results with them! Alexandria Alpine Strawberry is an ever-bearer (it continuously produces given normal growing conditions throughout the year) and is supposed to give fruit during its first season.
I’m also trying these “Attila Wild Strawberry Seeds” that send out runners like hybrid berries. This is the first Alpine variety I’ve seen with runners!
I also added some of the seeds that came with my planter.
Strawberries need to be surface-sown.
Sprinkle them right on top of your wet sprouting medium, them slightly press them down, but don’t bury them.
The Peat Discs need to stay wet.
This is why I like the Self-Watering Panda Planter so much. They stay wet, but not drowned. Plus, being watered from below protects the plants from the wilting fungi that splashing water can transfer from soil.
If you don’t want to buy the planter or want to sprout a lot of seeds at once, you can get a whole box of these peat discs here and put them in a plastic container (like a leftovers container without the lid). Just change the water every few days, and don’t put more than half-way up the peat discs in the container (no floating).
Strawberry seeds need some light.
Mine sat under a normal LED kitchen light and also had some natural low light from a shaded window. Once sprouted, moving it next to my AeroGarden has really improved the germination and growth of all of the seeds. If you don’t have a grow light indoors, placing your sprouts in a sunny window with direct light will work too.
Strawberry seeds DON’T need to be stratified.
I’m sure some varieties do, or even prefer it, so experiment with yours, but I didn’t need to keep them cold for a month.
Keep the water fresh.
Another thing I like about the panda planter is that the watering dish is shallow, so it forces me to change the water frequently to keep bad bacterial growth down, and the water oxygenated for the seeds and roots, so put your planter or peat discs somewhere you’ll see them everyday. My AeroGarden and Self-Watering Panda Planter are right next to my sink, so I can keep an eye on them (they make Cat Planters too *squeee*).
That’s it! I can’t believe I finally did it! I wish you luck in sprouting your seeds and will keep you updated on my Instagram page! What else are you planting this spring?
“Grow” forth and sow my friends,