The 7 Strawberry Growth Stages

Strawberries are not only delicious, but they are also good for you. If you want more berries in your diet, this guide will show you the stages of growth of the strawberry plant. 

Important Strawberry Facts

Scientific Name Fragaria × ananassa 
Type of plant perennial 
Part Eaten berry 
Days to Harvest 175 days from germination 
Season Grown Spring, Summer, Fall 
Cooked or raw either 
Optimal pH 5.8-6.5 

Strawberries are perennials that have berries about 175 days after planting. There are three types of strawberry plants. June bearing strawberries produce berries for about thirty days, then stop. Day-neutral and everbearing strawberries will continue to bear strawberries until the first frost when they go dormant. Strawberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.8-6.5. They are fertilized with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. Strawberries reproduce by both seeds and runners. Runners are stolens that grow over the ground and have daughter plants at intervals. These daughter plants will root and begin growing if not removed. 

The 7 Strawberry Growth Stages

Growth Stage Days after Planting For the Stage to Start* 
Seedling 7-42 days 
Vegetative Growth 8-10 weeks 
Flowering 2-3 weeks after transplant 
Berries and runners 175 days from germination 
Renovation When harvest is done 
Dormancy Start of winter in your area 

*The exact time depends on the variety. 

Strawberries Begin With Cold

Before planting strawberry seeds, you need to keep them in the refrigerator in a paper bag for a month. Without the cold, the seeds will not germinate, the first stage of growth. Strawberry seeds must be started inside, or they will not grow fast enough to have strawberries that season. You can plant them directly in the ground if you do not mind waiting a year for berries. Start them inside about eight to ten weeks before the date of the last frost. Use a tray with a seed starting mix for vegetables. Make a shallow ½-inch-deep hole. Place the strawberry seed in the hole but do not cover it with soil. Strawberry seeds need light to germinate.  

Strawberry seeds can take a while to germinate. They may come up in as little as seven days but usually take a couple of weeks. They have been known to take over a month, so don’t give up if they do not germinate right away. Keep the seed mix moist but not soggy while you wait. Too much moisture can lead to fungal infections that will kill the seedlings. You can cover the seed tray with plastic wrap until the seeds germinate to keep the soil moist and the humidity high. You can remove the plastic wrap to add water as needed, then replace the wrap. 

Plant Beginnings

As the plant embryo goes up through the soil, it becomes a seedling. At first, it has two leaves that are called cotyledons. They are virtually the same in all plants, regardless of species. Next come the first two true leaves that look like classic strawberry leaves. At the same time, the seedling is forming roots that will give it water and nutrients from the soil. Seedlings are very vulnerable to a disease called damping off, which is a fungal disease that causes them to fall over and die. Trying to keep the soil moist enough for the seedlings without keeping it so moist they dampen off can be tricky. I water from the bottom of the soil by placing the seed tray in a tray with a couple of inches of water in it and letting the soil soak up the water through the bottom holes. This keeps the crown and leaves from getting wet. 

Once the seedlings have two true leaves, I use a dilute fertilizer solution to help the seedlings grow up strong. I use the solution instead of water once a week. I use fish emulsion or a liquid fertilizer for acid-loving plants. 

Bulking Up

Once strawberry plants are eight to ten weeks old, they are ready to be transplanted outside. This is the vegetative stage where they grow foliage, and the roots get established. Choose a sunny location that is well-drained. Strawberries like soil that is slightly acidic, so adjust the soil pH if you need to by adding sulfur to the soil before planting. This works best if you do it in the fall before planting the strawberries in the spring. Plant the new strawberry plants 18-24 inches apart in rows three to four feet apart. This spacing may seem excessive. However, strawberries send out runners and will quickly fill the space around themselves with daughter plants. It is a good idea to spread straw or other mulch around the strawberry plants at this time to conserve water and keep the plants from getting weeds in them. I use hardwood mulch because straw is not readily available where I live. 

Pinch Off First Flowers

The flowering stage can start as early as two to three weeks after the strawberry plants are planted. However, it is a good idea to pinch off the first flowers the strawberry plant has. June-bearing strawberries should not be allowed to have strawberries the first year of their lives. You can leave the flowers on everbearing or day-neutral strawberries after they have been in the ground for a month. However, the plants will bear more if they are not allowed to have any berries the year after they are transplanted. Strawberries ripen from the tip to the stem. Harvest strawberries when they are completely red but before they develop soft spots. 

At the same time that flowers are forming, runners, which are stolens, are forming. A daughter plant forms at each of the frequent nodes on the stolens. These daughter plants will grow and produce strawberries next year. They will quickly fill in the rows and cross into the spaces between rows. If the plants are producing too many daughter plants, you can cut the stolens off. 

Renovation Time

After the strawberry plants stop producing berries, it is time to renovate them. This may be July for June-bearing plants or in the fall for everbearing and day-neutral plants. Thin out the older, woody plants so that there are new daughter plants every six to eight inches. Remove the plants between the rows. If you have June-bearing plants, mow the strawberry bed with your mower at its highest setting to protect the crowns. The leaves will grow back quickly. For all strawberries, fertilize the strawberry bed by spreading an inch of compost on them after the berries stop. Do not use uncomposted manure because it can spread diseases.  

Winter Dormancy

When the temperature gets cold, strawberries will go into dormancy. It generally has to be below 40 degrees F to send strawberries into their winter sleep. Wait until they have weathered two or three frosts to harden them off. Spread several inches of straw over your strawberry plants after this to keep them from freezing. Leave it there until the ice and snow melt, and it warms up in the spring, then sweep it off the plants but leave it between them. A good rule of thumb for when to uncover your strawberry plants is to wait until you see the first green growth on other plants.   

Storage Instructions

Strawberries are fragile. You can keep them in the refrigerator for 3-10 days, depending on the variety. Harvest them when the dew is dry but before it gets hot for the best storage. Do not wash them or remove the caps until just before you use them. You can also can strawberries or use them in jams and jellies, pies, and other cooked products. 

Collecting Seeds

The strawberry seeds are the small yellow or white flecks on the strawberry. They are very small. Let the seed strawberries get very ripe, then pick them. Wipe the seeds off the berry. Wash the seeds free of pulp by putting them in a glass of water. Let them settle. Scoop the floating pump and seeds off the top of the water. Put fresh water in the glass. Repeat twice and save the seeds that have settled on the bottom of the glass. Spread them out on a paper towel to dry. Strawberries are hybrids, so the seeds you save will not be just like the strawberries you harvested them from. 

In conclusion, strawberries go through seven stages, from germination to dormancy each year. They reproduce from both stolons with daughter plants on them and from seed. Because strawberries are hybrids, seeds that are planted will not look or taste like the strawberry plant you got them from. A more reliable method of cultivation is to save the daughter plants and let them grow. They will produce strawberries the next year. 

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Stephanie Suesan Smith

Stephanie Suesan Smith has a Ph.D. in psychology that she mainly uses to train her dog. She has been a freelance writer since 1991. She has been writing for the web since 2010. Dr. Smith has been a master gardener since 2001 and writes extensively on gardening. She has advanced training in vegetables and entomology but learned to garden from her father. You can see her writing samples at, and her vegetable blog at

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