How to plant strawberries in Arizona

How to Plant Strawberries in Arizona

If you’re searching for “How to plant strawberries in Arizona” you’ve come to the right post.  Gardeners in Arizona that are feeling adventurous won’t let the challenging conditions keep them from growing juicy, plump strawberries within the hardiness zones of 3-10. The diverse soils and climates mean that strawberries will need some extra TLC. The growing zones in Arizona go from 4b – 10, which have average winter lows from 40F to -25F. Whatever region you are in, proper planting will get Arizona strawberries started right.

Planting Strawberries In Arizona

Strawberry flowers are very vulnerable to frost, so the time of year you plant them will vary depending on where you live in Arizona.  It is a best practice to wait until you are completely sure the frost is over for the spring before starting to plant your frost sensitive plants such as strawberries.

Site Selection

In the low desert in Arizona, unexpected frosts may damage tender strawberry blossoms and destroy spring crops. The earliest blooms will create the largest berries, so having the right protection is vital.

You should plant your strawberries on elevated slopes, this will be where cold air will drain away and it lessens the chance of damage from frost.  The north-facing, cooler slopes will start later blooms, which adds a buffer to any bloom lost.

Strawberries will fruit best in locations that are in full sun, but the low desert berries will need protection from the intense sun. Locations that are close to homes will help to protect against frost, just be sure to avoid any west facing walls that will reflect the Arizona heat.

Soil Adjustments

Strawberries love low-saline, well-drained, organic soil that has a slightly acidic to neutral pH around 6.5. Many Arizona soils are saline and alkaline, with very little organic matter and without adjustments, the strawberries will have nutrient deficiencies.

Test your soil and follow the recommendations to the letter. Many Arizona gardens will need their pH lowered for strawberries, but some will have acidic soil. This is because the soil contains calcium carbonate, the average pH lowering products like sulfur won’t work. Using the wrong amounts or amendments can cause your soil to be toxic. Don’t just guess, test your soil.

You should layer up to 3 inches but no less than 2 inches of organic compost in the bed, as well as for ever 100 square feet, using a pound of 12-24-12 fertilizer. Be sure to wear protective clothing such as goggles and gloves and mix the layers to be 8 inches deep and be sure to avoid any manure based compost which often add salts.

Planting Time

Start planting your strawberries in late winter or spring, after the last frost date for your area. In the low desert of Arizona, this is often in February and the mountain regions need to wait until June.

Trim the roots to about 6 inches long, and keep them moist at all times. Be sure to use sharp garden pruners or scissors and use a household disinfectant to sterilize the blades before and after you use them.

Your planting depth is vital. Bury the roots but keep the crown of the plant exposed at the surface of the soil. If they are planted too low, then the strawberries will rot. If they are planted too high, then the crown dries out. Space your strawberries at 12 – 18 inches apart, and be sure to water them thoroughly.

Initial Care

Remove all the flowers during the first season so that your strawberries will focus on their roots and not the fruits. When the new growth starts, for ever 100 square feet use a half of a pound of 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate. Be sure that you are wearing protective clothing and lightly scratch the soil to add the fertilizer so that you don’t disturb the roots. Water it thoroughly and wash the fertilizer from the leaves.

Drip irrigation works best for Arizona strawberries. Overhead watering will promote disease, wastes water to evaporation and fuels the growth of weeds. Adding organic mulch like straw or pine needles will help to retain soil moisture, keep it cool, and keep weeds from growing.

Strawberry roots will stay in the top 6 inches of the soil. The shallow roots will need to be consistently moist at 1 inch per week. Water the strawberries every 3 – 5 days, with up to 2 inches of water weekly during the hot weather.

Strawberry Selection

With the diversity of Arizona, match your berry types to your elevation. Strawberries will fall into 3 groups: day-neutral, June-bearing, and everbearing.

June-Bearing Strawberries

June-bearing strawberries will flower and fruit early. If frost gets to them, then your crop will be lost. They work best in warmer, lower elevations with a few late frosts. The cold hardy, Mesabi June-bearing strawberry does quite well in high pH southwest soil.

Everbearing Strawberries

Everbearing strawberries have few runners, but will produce smaller crops in fall and spring. Autumn harvest follows if the spring frost destroys the spring crop, but everbearers have trouble in low desert heat. Cooler, higher elevations work best for them, but have shorter growing seasons. The Ogalla everbearing strawberry works well in these conditions.

Day-Neutral Strawberries

Day-neutral strawberries will flower and fruit for all growing season with smaller berries and fewer runners. Their flowers will fail if the temperatures go above 70F. They work best in the moderate elevations and moderate climates. The Tribute day-neutral strawberry is disease resistant and tolerates alkaline soils and does well with short growing seasons.

Phoenix Valley Plant Nursery

If you are looking for strawberry plants to plant in your garden A&P Nursery has everything you need to get started.  With quality seeds and plants we can get you started right.  In addition we carry a wide assortment of tools, fertilizers, and even offer starter raised gardening kits.  No matter what your gardening project A&P Nursery has the valley’s best plants, helpful staff, and everything you need to grow fresh fruit, produce, and beautiful plants in Arizona.

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today

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