Growing strawberries in hydroponics

3 min read

Growing strawberries in hydroponics

Presentation of the strawberry plant

Strawberry is a common name to designate the different species of the genus Fragaria. There are many varieties spread all over the world, and all of them produce fruits called strawberries. These plants are perennial herbs and belong to the Rosaceae family. They measure between 10 and 40 cm high depending on the species and are recognizable thanks to their trifoliate leaves.

Some known species of wild strawberries

Wild strawberries
  • Fragaria vesca : The wild strawberry. It is widespread throughout the northern hemisphere. The fruits are small in size, but are very fragrant.
  • Fragaria moschata : The musk strawberry. The fruits are red and larger than wild strawberries, but have a musky aroma.
  • Fragaria chiloensis : The Chilean Strawberry. The size of its fruits makes it an interesting variety. It also has the particularity of having white fruits.
  • Fragaria virginia : The Virginia strawberry. This variety is the first to flower, it is very early. It also has the advantage of being resistant to cold and heat, as well as drought and certain diseases.

The first cultivated strawberry, Fragaria x ananassa 

It is also called garden strawberry or pineapple strawberry, for its smell. It is a hybrid variety obtained in Brittany in the 1750s by crossing a Fragaria virginiana , for its fragrance, and a Fragaria chiloensis , for its size.

Thus, it is from crosses with this hybrid that come most of the varieties of strawberry plants grown today in our gardens.

How to grow strawberries in hydroponics?

Materials needed

  • hydroponic system
  • horticultural lighting (for indoor crops)
  • hydroponic fertilizer
  • pH up or/and pH down
  • pH meter
  • Conductivity meter (EC-meter)

Growing strawberries in hydroponics, where to start?

Here is a Mara des Bois strawberry plant with its long stolon filled with mini strawberries.

Strawberry reproduction is mainly by vegetative means. The plant produces aerial stems, called stolons, which take root to give a new foot.

For a hydroponic culture, it is therefore interesting to root a stolon directly in a hydroponic system.

But you can also choose to start your hydroponic strawberry crops from seeds. We therefore advise you to sow directly in rockwool cubes, and once germinated, install them in a hydroponic system. We invite you to read our article on ” Sowing in rock wool cubes ” to learn more.

To present this culture of hydroponic strawberries, we have chosen to take a stolon from a strawberry plant of the variety: ‘Mara des Bois’. We then installed it in a system of the same type as the Kratky method. If you are not familiar with this hydroponic system, you can take a look at our article ” What is the Kratky method?” “.

Note that it is important that your stolon already has some roots before cutting it from its original foot, otherwise it will not be able to develop.

Transplanting a strawberry stolon in hydroponics

Nutrient Solution Parameters for Strawberries

Once installed in its system, it is time to fill the tank and feed your young seedling with a suitable nutrient solution.

  • If you start from a seedling: EC = 0.8; pH = 5.5 / 6.0
  • If you start from a stolon: EC = 1.0; pH = 5.5 / 6.0
  • When flowers appear: EC = 1.8; pH = 5.5 / 6.0

Do the terms EC and pH seem totally unknown to you? We invite you to read our article on “ How to prepare the nutrient solution? “.

Caring for strawberry stems in hydroponics

First flowers of a Mara des bois strawberry plant after a month of hydroponic cultivation.

After a few weeks of cultivation, your strawberry plant will begin to produce its first flowers and therefore its first fruits. It is important to provide a slightly higher dose of fertilizer during this period for good fruiting.

Then the strawberry plant, while continuing to give strawberries, will begin its production of runners. You have two options:

  • Cut the stolons, so as not to weaken your foot, and continue to harvest pretty strawberries.
  • Save the runners, and transplant them into a new hydroponic system. We therefore advise you to cut the flowers so as not to weaken your foot too much.

Finally, it is important to cut off old leaves that dry out over time. This avoids the introduction of organic matter inside your tank.

Growing strawberries indoors

To enjoy strawberries all year round, it is interesting, during less favorable periods such as winter, to grow your strawberries indoors. Here’s everything you need to know.

Photoperiod for growing strawberries in hydroponics indoors

Strawberry Mara des bois installed indoors for the winter.

To approach the cultivation of strawberries indoors, we must first talk about the different types of strawberry plants, because depending on the variety, flowering is done according to the photoperiod. We therefore find non-remontant or remontant strawberries:

  • Non-remontants : Only one flowering per year in spring, we notably find varieties such as: ‘Gariguette’, ‘Ciflorette’ or ‘Rubis des jardins’.
  • Emeralds : Flowering continues from spring until frost. There are varieties here: ‘Mara des bois’, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Mont Everest’.

So depending on the variety of strawberries you choose to grow, the photoperiod to use will be different:

  • For non-remontants : use a photoperiod between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. during the day and 12 p.m. and 10 a.m. at night .
  • For pick-me- ups : use a photoperiod of 16 hours day and 8 hours night instead .

You do not know what type of lamp used? Find our article on ” Horticultural lighting: which one to choose for indoor cultivation?” For this cultivation of strawberries in hydroponics, we opted for an LED lamp, which is more economical and sufficiently powerful.

Strawberry flower pollination

In the garden, strawberry flowers are pollinated mainly by insects and wind. For indoor cultivation, we simply advise you to place a fan in your growing space. The current of air created will thus be conducive to this pollination.

The strawberry plant needs cold to grow stronger

When you choose to grow strawberries indoors, it is important to be able to offer them a winter period. This allows the foot to regain strength. To know when, simply observe your plant. As soon as you notice a loss of vitality (leaves, smaller fruits), place it in a room at a temperature of about 10°C for about ten days.

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