When To Plant Strawberries In Illinois

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When To Plant Strawberries In Illinois

Strawberry plants are a popular choice for many Illinois home gardeners looking to add an element of sweetness and color to their outdoor space. The key to successful strawberry growth is knowing when the best time is to plant your strawberries.

If you’re growing strawberries in Illinois, the best months to plant are usually in Spring, in March and April, when the ground can be worked, and the plants can become established before the hot Summer temperatures arrive.

When Exactly Is The Best Time To Plant Strawberries In The State Of Illinois?

Planting Outdoor

Strawberries are a popular crop in many parts of the world, and Illinois is no exception. For those looking to cultivate this delightful fruit, knowing when to plant your strawberries in Illinois, the Prairie State, the planting time plays an important role in the crop’s success. 

  • The optimal time to plant strawberries in Illinois typically falls several weeks before the last frost date for each growing zone. 
  • Early spring planting of these hardy, cold-tolerant plants allows them to take advantage of the temperate weather conditions and establish a strong root system. 

This early growth gives them the best chance at survival once summer heat arrives and helps produce a healthier yield for that year’s harvest. 

Additionally, covering your strawberry patch with soil will help protect against any late spring frost damage that could occur in April or May. 

Planting strawberries at the correct time can mean all the difference between an abundant harvest or just barely harvesting any at all, so it’s worth considering when planning for a successful year in your garden!

Planting Indoor

If you want to plant some strawberry seeds indoors in Illinois, the best time to start is 6 – 8 weeks before your last expected frost date. 

  • Planting strawberry seeds indoors can be tricky because they are not known to have a high germination rate and require a lot of attention. 
  • Therefore, most gardeners purchase strawberry plants from a reputable nursery or garden center instead.
  • Once you grow strawberries indoors, however, they should be kept in temperatures between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit and need at least five hours of direct sunlight per day, or growth will suffer. 

It is also important to water regularly so as not to dry out the soil while draining any excess water quickly to prevent root rot. 

With proper care, patience, and dedication, you should be able to bring your new crop of strawberries out into the sunshine of summer soon enough!

What Are The Best Strawberry Varieties To Grow?

When it comes to strawberries, there are many different types and varieties available on the market.

Some varieties will take longer to bear fruit than others, but they will eventually produce berries. Here are four of the most popular strawberry varieties and their approximate time of fruiting: 

  • Earliglow (2 – 3 weeks after flowering), 
  • Honeoye (4 – 5 weeks after flowering), 
  • Chandler (4 – 5 weeks after flowering), 
  • Jewel (5 – 6 weeks after flowering).
When To Plant Strawberries In Illinois

Depending on the variety, these strawberries may require slightly different growing conditions; for example, Earliglow likes warm temperatures, while Chandler does better in cooler climates

Regardless of the variety you choose, be prepared for a time commitment; ripening strawberries can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

How Do You Know When Your Strawberries Are Ready To Be Harvested?

Strawberries are not difficult to grow in Illinois; however, it is important to know when they are ready for harvesting. 

Strawberries are ready to harvest when they have a bright red color that is uniform throughout and when they can be picked up easily with a slight tug. 

At this stage, the berries will typically be about 1-1½ inches in size and should be firm to the touch. It’s necessary to pick them up now, as further ripening does not occur once they have been removed from the plant.

Color

To determine if your strawberries are ripe, closely examine their color – if they still bear green or yellow patches, then these will not be ready for picking yet. 

  • Ensure that you only pluck the bright red ones that make sense of size by being 1-1½ inches in diameter and feel sturdy enough so that there is almost no give when you touch them. 
  • Then simply divide and enjoy your freshly picked strawberries! They pair well with cream or can even be used as icing filling for desserts – delicious!

Tips For Planting Strawberries

Growing your own fruit offers the home gardener an exciting opportunity to partake in the traditions of harvesting homegrown produce. 

Fruits like strawberries and raspberries are easy to grow, providing families with sweet, nutritious snacks right at harvest time. Whether you have a small lot or a spacious suburban garden, there are many ways to grow these beloved fruits.

When growing strawberries, consider:

Additionally, various techniques can help ensure excellent yields, such as:

With patience and dedication, you can create a delicious edible landscape that will be overflowing with plump, juicy berries every summer!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you grow strawberries in Illinois?

Yes, strawberries can be grown successfully in Illinois. The state’s climate and soil conditions are suitable for strawberry cultivation. It is important to choose appropriate strawberry varieties and provide proper care, including regular watering and well-drained soil, to ensure a successful harvest.

Is There A Time When it’s Too Late To Plant Strawberries?

Since strawberries continue to produce fruit well into October, it’s possible to plant them even after the other vegetables have stopped producing.

Doing so allows you to reap the benefits of a longer growing season and a larger harvest.

While it is often recommended that first-time strawberry growers pinch off the blooms to conserve nutrients, doing so every year can make your plants more vigorous and fruitful. 

This extra vigor will translate into a bumper crop the next year if you’re not planning on harvesting immediately. So, if you want to plant strawberries in March or April up until May or June, don’t worry about heat stresses.

Final Thoughts

Knowing when to plant strawberries in Illinois is key to having a successful harvest. Early spring planting is ideal, giving the plants time to establish a strong root system before the summer heat arrives. 

If planting indoors, start 6 – 8 weeks before your last expected frost date and keep temperatures between 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit with at least five hours of direct sunlight daily.

Further Recommendations:

Video: What is the Best Strawberry variety to Grow?

Reference: University of Illinois Extension – Growing Strawberries

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4 responses to “When To Plant Strawberries In Illinois”

  1. Iris Thomas Avatar

    Strawberry harvests are best planted in Illinois in March and April, two to three weeks before the last frost in spring, when the ground is warm and usable.

  2. John Christianson Avatar

    Hi Iris. Thank you for your great comment and short summary of the best months to plant Strawberries in Illinois.

  3. Iris Thomas Avatar
    Iris Thomas

    Strawberries are delectable summer snacks, whether in cakes, sangrias, or popsicles. If you’re growing strawberries in Illinois, the best months to plant are March and April, though you can sow these fruits as early as the first week of May for a July to October harvest.

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