Strawberry Plants for Sale: A Few Things You Should Know About How to Purchase Strawberry Plants
Looking for strawberry plants for sale? Gonna pull the trigger and get that strawberry garden started? Before you purchase strawberry plants, there’s just a few things you should know before you order your plants.
Exercising a bit of care and caution about the types of strawberry plants you buy and the nursery you buy from can pay dividends – paid in the currency of bumper harvests of sweet, juicy berries, of course!
Don’t Buy Just Any Old Strawberry Plants For Sale
With care in choosing the location and preparing the soil for your strawberries, you’re likely to have a healthy, productive strawberry patch.
But you want to be sure not to undo all the effort of carefully preparing that patch by planting strawberry plants that are in trouble before you’ve even gotten them in the ground.
There are a number of virus diseases than can affect strawberry plants. And prevention is the best cure for these diseases.
What does that have to do with buying strawberry plants?
If you’re careful in choosing the source of your plants, you’ll enjoy the confidence of knowing that the plants were carefully inspected, and are healthy and disease free. Some nurseries even offer a certification that their plants are disease free.
What Does ‘Certified’ Mean?
The certification standards vary a bit from state to state. But in general, they assure that the strawberry plants for sale have been grown in such a way that the chance of contact with a disease pathogen is extremely remote.
For example, the certification standards require that the plants be grown a certain distance from non-certified plants. Barriers must be in place to prevent contamination by animals.
Land with a known history of harboring disease organisms must not be used, and land must not be used which has recently grown strawberries unless certain sanitizing procedures are followed. Periodic inspections and tests are also required to verify that the plants are pathogen free, including an inspection just prior to harvest.
The certification, of course, only applies up to the time the plants are shipped. Quite reasonably, certified disease free does not mean that the plant will never become infected with a disease after it leaves the nursery. But it does mean that you won’t be paying for a plant that is already infected with a pathogen of some sort.
Of course, just because a nursery’s strawberry plants are not certified doesn’t mean that they fail to conform to rigorous quality standards. But the certification does offer an extra helping of confidence in the quality of the plants.
Plugs or Bare Root?
When you’re ordering your plants, in addition to deciding which strawberry varieties to grow, you might also need to choose between bare root or plugs.
Bare root plants are just as the name implies: the roots are bare of soil (the plant in my hand is a bare root strawberry plant).
Plugs come with the root ball intact in a small ‘plug’ of soil or potting soil.
Not all nurseries offer a choice, but the advantages vs. disadvantages are as follows:
Plugs are easier to plant, have a higher survival rate and tend to get off to a faster start. And if you can’t plant them as soon as they arrive, strawberry plugs can easily wait several days to be planted as long as you care for them properly.
But bare root plants are usually much cheaper.
If you have a choice between plugs and bare root plants, and you’re buying a small enough quantity of plants so that the price differential is not significant, you’ll probably be better off with plugs.
Where to Buy Strawberry Plants
If you want to order your plants online, here’s a listing of companies that offer strawberry plants for sale online for mail-order delivery. Some offer certified plants, and some don’t, but all are reputable companies that enforce high standards of quality control (I contacted each company and asked specifically about their strawberry plants):
Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.
Nature Hill’s plants are not certified, but they are guaranteed to be disease free. Here’s a bit of what they told me about their strawberry plants: All of the bare root strawberry plants for sale are 1-year-old plants. Each plant has a single crown and a nice flush of leaves.
Once the plants are dug, they’re held at 28 degrees F until they are shipped. The plants are shipped in bunches of 25. Each bunch is hand selected and individually inspected as they are being packed for shipment. The crowns are inspected to ensure that they are not overly wet, and the integrity of the roots is checked. Bunches that are questionable are discarded.
They also suggested that the best way for you to get the best quality strawberry plants is to order early. Plants shipped when the weather is cool tend to fare better than plants shipped in hot weather. Nature Hills also recommends that when you receive your plants, look them over carefully and give the company a call if anything looks off.
Burpee offers a very nice selection of certified strawberry plants. They told me that their plants are inspected and certified at the grower's fields, and then they file the certification paperwork with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture. Here’s a listing of Burpee Gardening's strawberry plants.
Burgess Seed & Plant Co.
Burgess’ strawberry plants are not certified, but they are guaranteed to be disease free at the time of shipment. Their plants are guaranteed for 1 year. Here’s a listing of Burgess’ strawberry plants.