No space to garden? Living in a condo? Looking for more things to grow inside?
This article will cover everything you need to grow luscious strawberries indoors from seed or seedlings. With some simple containers, some potting soil, lights and sun for 8 hours a day, some fertilizer and water and pretty soon you’ll be swimming in strawberries.
Plus once you get them started you can keep growing them forever like any houseplant. Strawberry plants keep producing fruit year after year because they are perennials.
And don’t forget to add some friends. There are tons of things you can grow indoors. Want to spice it up? Add some indoor ghost peppers to your collection.
How To Grow Indoor Strawberries
Prefer to watch? Check out this video which briefly covers everything you need to do to grow and harvest strawberries indoors. Then scroll below to get the details on each step.
Choose the Best Variety to Grow Indoors
When choosing a strawberry variety to grow inside, look for something that produces fruit most of the year and doesn’t grow too large. Alpine Strawberries meet both of these characteristics.
Can’t find Alpine strawberries? Don’t let that stop you. Seek out strawberry seedlings at your local nursery in the spring. Find a nursery with staff that grow locally themselves.
Not that things need to be ultra local. You’ll just find more success by getting advice from others in your area that have done it before you.
Grow from Seed or start with Young Plants?
Try both! You can successfully grow strawberries from either seeds or young seedlings. We highly recommend you do both. The learning curve is much lower working with seedlings plus it will save you some time.
Seeds on the other hand will open up your gardening world to new varieties you can’t find locally. There’s no reason you can’t do both in one season. Plus the more you test the more you’ll quickly become the local expert on which varieties do best for your area.
How To Grow Strawberries Indoors From Seeds
Strawberry seeds require 2-3 weeks to germinate after planting. Start them in a shallow seeding tray that has 1/2 and inch of potting soil at the base. Spread the seeds throughout the tray and keep it in a warm location and spray mist it daily.
If possible, add T5 fluorescent lights about 4 inches above the seedling tray.
Once the seeds germinate let the plants grow till they develop their 3rd set of leaves (i.e. one set of seed leaves then two sets of true leaves). After the 3rd set of leaves appear transfer the plants gently to their final containers.
Get a Container
Aim to plant 3 – 4 strawberry plants per square foot of growing surface. If you are growing indoors we recommend you set things up in trays instead of round pots. Square or rectangular trays will give you the largest amount of growing space per shelf.
We also recommend you grow in shelves. A simple metal shelving system from Home Depot or any hardware store will do. Wire based shelves are easy to find and easy to put together. The set below was how I got started with Aquaponics and an easy way for you to get started.
Note: If you click some of the links in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Add Potting Soil
Any good commercial potting soil will work for strawberries. If this is your first attempt start with a commercial bagged potting soil.
After your first harvest you can DIY for next year. Yes, you’ll save a lot making your own potting soil but gardening takes a lot of time. Losing a harvest one year when you could just buy a few bags of soil isn’t worth it.
Then next year when you’re hungry for more you can DIY your own soil. Do so by learning how to compost outside or, my favorite, how to vermicompost (use worms to break down your mail and food scraps). I’m a condo dweller so it’s so much more fun to turn most of my junk mail into soil using worms. No smell and easy to do in any apartment.
To make your own soil at home use this recipe:
- 1 Gallon of Topsoil
- 1 Gallon of Perlite or Vermiculite
- 1 Gallon of Peat Moss
Note that if you use topsoil from your yard it might come with tons of weed seeds, fungus, and other issues that could hurt your plants. You are better off buying topsoil that’s been sterilized from a local garden shop.
If you’re ultimate DIY than you can use the sun and other methods to somewhat sterilize your yard’s topsoil but that’s for another article.
The peat moss will help the DIY soil hold water. The perlite or vermiculite will help provide air space and better drainage.
Give Enough Lighting
Strawberries need 10 hours of direct sunlight a day. If you have windows that will help but we recommend again you get some shelves and some indoor lights. This will help you control conditions better and get bigger harvests.
Plus once you have a shelf of strawberries you’re well on your way to enough harvest to sell the extra making you a market gardener.
We recommend adding lighting. Simple T5 fluorescent lights will do. Aim for 40 watts per square foot. I’ve been known to go around and buy up all the shop lights at Walmart and just hang them from the metal shelves side by side.
That gets a little ugly so we recommend you start with some nice T5 lighting fixtures with room to install 4 bulbs side by side in one unit. Choose a unit that’s the same length (but a little shorter so it fits!) than the width of your shelves.
Use a 50/50 mix of warm (3000K) and cool (6500K) lights. Cool lights help with foliage growth (plant growth). Warm lights are used for fruiting. By combining both you give the plant everything it needs without you having to switch back and forth through the season.
View your indoor gardening like a business. Even if you are just growing for yourself and your family do it so it’s profitable! That means you buy the minimum and best equipment so you can spend the minimum amount of time growing for the maximum harvest.
Your bottom line – more strawberries baby!
Control the Temperature
The ideal temperatures for strawberries range from 60 to 80 Degrees F. Growing indoors this should be no problem. Just be mindful of placing them near windows when it’s cold outside. Again, this is a big reason why we grow in shelves away from windows. More control, more success, more strawberries!
Optimal humidity for strawberries is 65 – 75%. That was based on study using the Elsanta strawberry variety. Elsanta is a Dutch variety that has high yields and great disease resistance. It’s also the strawberry you’ll find most often in your local grocery store so you’re safe using it’s preferred humidity range since it’s so commonly grown.
Add Fertilizer as Needed
If you are using a new commercial potting soil you likely won’t need to add any fertilizer the first year.
After the first year if you plan to use the same soil (and the same plants which you can) then add more fertilizer as directed by the type you choose. A simple 10-10-10 (NPK) fertilizer will be fine. Apply according to the fertilizer’s directions for the amount of space that you have.
Many suggest 1 pound of fertilizer per 20 feet of strawberry rows (1 pound per 100 square feet). Converting that to interior square foot gardening you’d use 4.5 grams of 10-10-10 fertlizer per square foot of strawberry soil space. Get a food scale to do this kind of micromeasuring.
Add fertilizer immediately after each berry harvest. That will prep the plant and soil for next year. Mow, with scissors, the old strawberry plants in the fall and mix that into your compost. Add last years compost to the top of the soil and water it in. Or, if using chemical fertilizer, just measure it according to the above and add to the soil again after the harvest.
If using DIY soil check for common signs of nutrient deficiencies before adding fertilizer then add as needed.
Water daily as needed. Just add water till it comes out the drain holes. You’ll need more and more water as the leaves grow and fruiting begins.
Prune as Needed
Don’t prune till the end of the season. If you plan to keep your strawberries for next year, after you harvest, and after they wither for the fall then mow the tops of the plants. Add this to your compost bin of choice.
If you planted your strawberries too close together or if the variety is just growing like crazy you may get some intertwining. Then it could help to prune a few of these branches to help things along.
Also be sure to prune any strawberry runners (vines leading away from the plant). If growing indoors then these runners have nowhere to go!
Harvest When Ripe
Berries should be ripe 4-6 weeks after you see the first flowers. Cut ripe red berries at the stem. Pulling them could damage the plant. Sharp shears make for happy harvests!
Grow them as Annuals or Perennials
Indoor strawberries can be fully harvested each year as if they are annuals or you can grow the same plant year after year letting it produce over and over again.
Both methods have their place. As long as you regularly add fertilizer you can keep your strawberry plants happy for a long time. Watch them to make sure they don’t become spindly and mow them after each harvest and you should have happy plants for a long time.
Plants looking sick? Got aphids? Things can happen, even indoors. First check our picture guide to nutritional issues with plants.
Then check out the NC State Extension Services picture tool for Strawberry problems. To use it just scan the list on the left side and check off the problems you are having. Find the picture that matches your problem. Then click “details” and scroll down to find the solution.
Growing Strawberries Indoors Under Lights
Yes you can grow strawberries indoors under lights. Aim for 40 watts per square foot. We recommend simple fluorescent or LED lights from a local hardware store. Use a mix of cool (6500K) colors for vegetative growth phase and warm (3000K) color bulbs for the fruiting phase. By using both color sets at the same time you don’t have to remember to switch them through the growing season.
Follow all other directions above regarding soils, temperature, pruning, watering, etc..
Growing Strawberries Indoors Hydroponically
You can absolutely grow strawberries indoors hydroponically. There are plenty of ways to do it. We highly recommend you find a local hydroponic supply store and go talk to them. Knowing other local growers will put you ahead of the game.
There are a ton of ways to setup a home hydroponic system for strawberries. Watch this video to see one example. Full instructions are beyond the scope of this article however the video below is Part 1 of a series that will show you everything you need to setup a hydroponic strawberry system. You can watch all 6 Parts on Youtube here.
Indoor Strawberry Farm
Interested in selling some of your strawberries and having your own mini farm?
For each square foot of growing space you can grow 3-4 strawberry plants.
June bearing strawberry varieties will give you one crop in June. Ever-bearing varieties will produce a few crops through the fall. Each plant will give you about a quart of strawberries per harvest. Each quart sells for $2.50 up to $6+ depending on if they are organic and who you sell to.
Are you delivering to someone’s door? Charge more!
For fun, here’s some rough numbers on how much you can make from your strawberry indoor farm.
- One Amazon Basics 5 Shelving Unit (see above) – 36″ x 14″ X 4 (the top shelf just holds a light) = 24 square feet of growing space
- Assuming you use rectangular trays to use all space – 24 sf * 3 plants = 72 plants
- 72 plants * 2 harvests per year (assume some loss) = 144 plant harvests
- 144 plant harvest * 1 quart per plant * $4 per quart = $576 per year for each 5 Shelf system you install
- 5 Shelf sets * 4 along one wall of a room * $576 per year = $2304 per year
Not too shabby! Even if you just grow and freeze all of those for your own smoothies you’re saving over $2K a year that could be invested elsewhere, nice!
Here’s a list of suggested equipment you could order today off Amazon. Scan below to see pictures with sizinng of everything you need. Do you need to get these from Amazon? No but it’s easy! We also always recommend you get to know a local gardener who can help you when things get tough.
Note: If you click some of the links in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Cool (6500K) Bulbs – for vegetative growth
The light fixture above includes 4 cool tubes. If you get that then skip this and just get warm bulbs then mix them 50/50 with cool and warm bulbs in each fixture.
Warm (3000K) Bulbs – for fruiting
Couldn’t find these on Amazon! Head to Home Depot locally instead.
Indoor Strawberry Planters
Place 4 of these side by side on each shelf.
You’ll need 1 of the Miracle Grow bags (16 quarts) for every two planters above.
Sadly the Organic mix costs twice as much for half the volume. You’ll need one bag of these per planter above. If you want to sell organic then start with organic soil.