Strawberry Growth Stages: How Fast Do Strawberries Grow?

If you’re eager to harvest fresh, juicy red berries, you may be wondering how long you have to wait for strawberries to grow. Garden expert and former organic farmer Logan Hailey explains strawberry growth stages and offers tips to speed up maturity.

Strawberry Growth. Close-up of a ripe strawberry fruit among green foliage in a sunny garden. The strawberry plant is characterized by bright green, trifoliate leaves arranged in clusters on long stems. The plant bears juicy, red heart-shaped berry which is covered in tiny seeds.


Strawberries are fast-growing, compact plants that you can grow in raised beds, containers, or hanging baskets. Storebought strawberries are fine for some, but once you’ve tasted a homegrown berry, you’ll never want to go back. Growing your own fruits is incredibly rewarding and delicious. Moreover, you can be sure that your fresh berries are vine-ripened and never sprayed with any nasty chemicals. 

But will you have to wait forever to harvest fruit? Strawberries grow pretty fast compared to other fruiting plants, and understanding their growth stages makes it even easier to accelerate establishment in your garden.

Let’s dig into everything you need to know about strawberry plant development and how to speed up growth in your garden.

How Fast Do Strawberries Grow?

Strawberries are quick-maturing plants that can produce fruits within three months of planting. Depending on the variety, strawberries take 60 to 90 days to mature from bare root crowns or plugs. However, June-bearing and everbearing plants don’t produce prolific yields until the following year. Day-neutral varieties produce fruit in the first year and are the most desirable for gardeners who want a quick strawberry harvest.

6 Stages of Strawberry Growth

Strawberries are naturally perennial plants with distinctive phases of growth. Many gardeners panic when their plants fail to produce berries right away, but patience is required for the plants to establish their roots and begin fruiting. Some cultivars (typically June-bearing and everbearing types) take a year to reach full maturity and maximize their yields. 

However, modern day-neutral varieties can mature and fruit in their first season. Because they can mature in the same year they are planted, day-neutrals are often grown as annual plants. They can be left in the ground to overwinter, or they can be pulled out and refreshed with new plants the following year, much like annual vegetables.

No matter what growing method or variety you choose, all Fragaria plants go through the same growth stages. Understanding these developments will make it easier to gauge the health of your plants and address issues like a lack of flowers or fruit. While lack of sunlight and pollination are common problems that prevent fruit production, patience can be another issue. 

Plants must mature into the reproductive growth phase before they can start fruiting. Here is how to recognize what phase your plants are in:

Bare Crown or Seedling Stage

Planting strawberries in the garden. Close-up of a gardener's hand in white gloves planting a young strawberry seedling with bare roots in the soil. In his other hand, the gardener holds a double-sided hoe. A young strawberry seedling consists of thin hairy stems with vibrant green, serrated leaves arranged in clusters bearing three leaflets.
Choose day-neutral strawberry varieties for quicker, first-year harvests.

Like all fruiting plants, strawberries begin as seeds. But most gardeners don’t grow strawberries from seed (though it is perfectly feasible). Instead, it is more common to source bare root crowns or strawberry plugs. Both types of baby plants get established in similar time frames. You can plant two to three weeks before your last spring frost date and expect the first berries in about three months. Peak production is usually mid-summer through fall.

Day-neutral varieties like ‘Albion’ or ‘Seascape’ are the best options for beginners who want to enjoy berries in the first year. You can find bare roots or plugs of both types. Plugs appear to grow faster because they already have leaves and root balls, but bare roots can be planted earlier in the spring since they are still dormant. Here are some notable differences between the two:

Bare-root Crowns

Close-up of bare root strawberry seedlings on wet soil. Bare root strawberry seedlings consist of slender, pale brown roots without soil, accompanied by a small central crown or stem. The roots appear delicate and fibrous, extending outward from the crown in a radial pattern. Above the crown, there are a few sparse, small leaves.
Plant bare root crowns with care for optimal growth.

Bare-root plants are dormant crowns shipped in early spring. They are widely available online or in nurseries and arrive in your garden with little to no green growth. While bare roots look dead, they are actually just sleeping. As soon as the crowns are planted in the soil and the weather warms, they will sprout new leaves and anchor their roots. Bare root strawberries generally take 80-90 days to mature, from the time of planting to the first berries. 

However, it’s very important to plant bare root crowns at the proper depth. The central crown of the plant is a crucial growing point for both roots and shoots. Burying too deep can lead to rot, and planting too shallowly can cause the plants to dry out. Both problems are detrimental and can slow the growth of plants or even kill them. 

For proper bare root establishment, ensure the bottom one-third of the crown is buried and the roots are fully under the soil. The upper two-thirds of the crown, along with any new growth, should be above the soil surface.  


Close-up of a large green box filled with rows of Strawberry plug plants. Strawberry plug plants are compact and robust, featuring a central crown or stem with well-developed roots encased in a small plug of soil. The crown supports several sets of vibrant green leaves, arranged in clusters.
Opt for strawberry plugs for quicker growth and container planting.

Strawberry plugs are very similar to the vegetable seedlings you are familiar with. They arrive in cell trays with a few sets of leaves and established root balls in a soil blend. Plugs are easier to handle and transplant, but they can be more expensive. You must also wait a bit longer to plant strawberry plugs because they already have foliage. The foliage is sensitive to the cold, whereas dormant bare root crowns are more cold-hardy.

Transplant plugs around your last frost date, keeping the soil level at the same depth as it was in the cell trays. Be gentle with the roots and crowns, and avoid burying them too deep. Plugs can take off very quickly and start fruiting within three months. They are great for container growing and hanging baskets. Ensure at least 12-18 inches of space between each plant.

Root Establishment

Loosening the soil with a hoe around the strawberry bushes in a sunny garden. Strawberry bushes are characterized by low, sprawling growth with dense foliage consisting of bright green, serrated leaves.
Ease transplant shock by handling plants gently and providing loose soil.

Once your plugs or bare root crowns are in the ground, they need time to establish their roots. You may notice a few flowers during this stage, but it is best to remove them. Sometimes, plants will “stress flower” as a result of transplant shock. They think they are dying and put in a last-ditch effort to reproduce. Removing these blossoms ensures that the plant can properly adjust. 

Don’t worry—more flowers will grow in a few weeks! Removing early flowers communicates to the plant that it should channel its energy toward root establishment. The roots need to adjust to their new home.

Transplant shock can slow down the rooting growth stage and prevent fast strawberry establishment. To prevent transplant shock, ensure you handle the plugs or crowns very gently and avoid shoving their roots into hard holes. Thoroughly loosened, loamy soil is ideal for quick rooting. 

Imagine that you are a baby plant with young roots that are trying to expand—it would be very difficult to push outward against rock-hard soil. Loosened planting holes make it easier for tiny root hairs to expand their surface area, access water, and hold the plant in the soil.

Vegetative Growth

Lots of strawberry bushes with runners in a high wooden bed. Strawberry plants showcase vibrant green leaves with serrated edges, arranged in clusters of three on slender stems. These low-growing plants produce numerous runners, thin stems that sprawl along the ground and develop new plantlets at intervals.
Healthy leaves in summer mean your strawberries are thriving.

The vegetative growth stage is all about shoots and leaves. As the plant pushes its roots deeper in the soil, it is simultaneously growing lush foliage aboveground. Leaves are essential for photosynthesis, allowing the plant to produce plenty of food to fuel its early growth. 

If it is early summer and your strawberries aren’t fruiting yet, there is no need to panic! They are probably still in the vegetative growth stage. As long as the leaves are deep green and healthy, the plants are performing properly. You want a strawberry plant to grow at least 8-10” tall and wide before it starts flowering.

Some flowers may appear in the vegetative phase. Once again, it is best to pinch them to encourage the plant to grow a little stronger. Early flowers often produce measly fruits, anyway. This will set the stage for extra abundant yields in a few weeks when the weather is fully warm. Stronger plants with lots of leaves and healthy roots are more capable of producing consistently large, juicy berries for the rest of the summer.

Runner Removal

a gardener removes a runner from a strawberry plant with garden snips.
Remove runners as they appear.

The vegetative phase also includes lots of runner production. Runners are also known as stolons or suckers because they suck energy away from the central plant. Strawberries use runners to spread as ground cover over large areas. But in our gardens, we are typically growing these plants for fruit rather than ground cover. 

If you want to ensure larger harvests of berries, remove the runners as they appear. They look like long, slender stems from the center of the plant, reaching out to nearby bare soil. If left long enough, a baby plant will begin forming at the end of each runner. This pulls energy away from your main plant’s root and leaf production, ultimately limiting its energy for flowering in the next growth phase.

You can use sharp pruners to cut off runners at the base of the original plant. Once the plants are thoroughly rooted, the runners can easily be snapped off. Be careful not to tug young roots out of place by snapping runners too soon. I usually cut the runners off in early in the season and snap them by hand later on when the roots are anchored.


Close-up of flowering strawberry plants in a sunny garden. Strawberry plants exhibit vibrant green leaves, with serrated edges, arranged in clusters on trailing stems close to the ground. Amidst the foliage, delicate white flowers with yellow centers emerge, adding a charming touch to the lush greenery.
As summer arrives, strawberry plants burst into delicate blossoms.

After about one and a half to two months of rooting and vegetative growth, strawberry plants typically begin flowering in early to mid-summer. If your plants appear lush and thriving, stop removing the early blossoms and let them shift into their reproductive phase. The little white flowers will cover your strawberry patch, and bees will begin flocking to the area. Interplanting with white alyssum is a great way to attract the maximum amount of pollinators and other beneficial insects to ensure a strong fruit set.

Strawberry plants are photoperiod sensitive, which means they flower based on the amount of daylight. This is why June-bearing varieties only produce flowers and fruit during a short window of time in June and July in most climates. However, day-neutral varieties are best for home gardeners because they flower regardless of day length. Day-neutrals start producing flowers as soon as the weather is sufficiently warm and their leaves and roots are established.


Close-up of a woman's hand picking strawberry. Strawberry plants boast vibrant green leaves with serrated edges. Amongst the foliage grow succulent, red berries. The berries are characterized by their glossy sheen and heart-shaped appearance.
From flower buds to ripe berries, strawberries offer continuous delight.

Strawberry flowers take about four to six weeks to mature into ripe fruits. You can expect to harvest your first strawberries within three months of planting, with production ramping up to its fullest potential four months after planting. Again, the benefit of day-neutral varieties is that they produce flowers and fruits continuously throughout the season. If you plant June-bearing or everbearing varieties, you may not harvest significant volumes of fruit until the following summer.

On mature strawberry plants, you may notice various stages of reproductive growth on a single plant at any given time. For example, the plant may have:

  • Flower buds
  • Open flowers
  • Developing baby fruits (tiny green strawberries)
  • Ripening fruits (partially green, large fruits)
  • Fully ripened fruits (deep reddish-pink large fruits ready to pick)

In peak summer, it’s important to harvest your strawberry patch every few days so you can catch the berries at proper ripeness. Overripe berries become mushy, darkened, and sometimes moldy. To prevent disease and encourage continuous ripening, pick the ripest red berries right when they are ready. More harvesting promotes more flowering, which means more fruit!


Close-up of a strawberry plant in dormancy state. During dormancy, the strawberry plant sheds its vibrant green foliage, leaving behind bare stems or crowns.
As the cold sets in, strawberries prepare for dormancy.

At the end of the season, strawberry fruiting and flowering slows. Cold temperatures signal to the plant that it is time to rest. Strawberries are perennial and frost-tolerant, but they must overwinter below ground. The above ground leaves will die back with the first frosts, but this does not mean the plants are dying. 

Herbaceous deciduous plants typically drop their leaves and stems so they can funnel their energy down into the roots for dormancy. Let the plants naturally wither and die back before you do any pruning. The crowns will suck the remaining nutrients and water out of the leaves to store in the roots. This preparation for dormancy is crucial for successful overwintering.

If you want to overwinter your plants, it’s helpful to prune away the dead foliage after the first hard frost and add a nice layer of straw or leaf mulch to keep the crowns cozy through the cold months.

How to Speed Up Growth

Stressful conditions ultimately slow us all down, and strawberry plants are no different. Without sufficient nutrients, water, sunlight, and soil, these plants will struggle to reach their fullest potential. While you can’t change the natural life cycle of a plant, you can ensure the fastest growth by providing ideal, low-stress conditions.

Reduce Transplant Shock

Close-up of a female gardener transplanting strawberry seedlings into soil in a sunny garden. She is holding in her hands a bunch of bare-rooted seedlings. Strawberry bare-rooted seedlings consist of a central crown or stem adorned with a few sets of vibrant green leaves, arranged in clusters of three. Beneath the crown, slender, pale brown roots extend outward.
Optimal care post-transplant ensures strong, speedy strawberry growth.

Preventing transplant shock is the most important way to ensure rapid strawberry establishment. Although strawberries are remarkably resilient and vigorous, these plants are most vulnerable when they are young.

As a commercial-scale organic strawberry grower, here are a few tricks we used to promote rapid establishment after transplanting:

  • Ensure bare root crowns are properly stored in the refrigerator to maintain dormancy until they are ready to plant.
  • Handle roots carefully and avoid cramming them into the ground.
  • Soak bare roots in a diluted kelp solution before planting.
  • If starting from plugs, store them in a bright windowsill or greenhouse before planting.
  • Slowly harden off plugs for a few days to acclimate to outdoor conditions before planting.
  • Thoroughly amend the soil with lots of compost.
  • Broadfork strawberry beds before planting to loosen and aerate.
  • Plant on raised mounds to encourage drainage.
  • Provide consistent moisture during the first two weeks after planting. Do not allow these shallow-rooted plants to dry out.

Most importantly, be sure to protect newly planted strawberries from extreme weather. Very cold nights can shock the plants and slow their growth. I like to cover all of my plants with row fabric immediately after planting. You can also use mulch, grow in containers, or just wait until your last spring frost date when the soil is sufficiently warm and the weather is settled.

Remove Early Blossoms

Close-up of a female hand about to pick an early strawberry flower in the garden. Strawberry plants present lush foliage with vibrant green leaves, bearing serrated edges and arranged in clusters close to the ground. Amongst the foliage emerge delicate white flowers with yellow centers.
Early blossom removal boosts strawberry growth and future yields.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it is helpful to remove the first blossoms from your plants. Early flowers detract from strawberry establishment. As we explored above, it’s important for young plants to first channel their energy into root and vegetative growth. Removing the flowers is like a signal that says, “Hey! Focus on your roots and leaves for now, you can reproduce later on when you are bigger and stronger!”

It won’t kill your plants to leave the flowers on, but it may slow them down later in the season. I’ve found that plants whose flowers were plucked early on tend to produce the most fruit down the line. If young strawberries are allowed to flower right after planting, they may not grow as large and vigorous.

Provide Consistent Moisture

Close-up of watering flowering strawberry bushes in the garden from a large green watering can. Flowering strawberry bushes exhibit dense foliage with vibrant green leaves, clustered near the ground. Delicate white flowers with yellow centers grow among lush foliage.
Moderate, targeted watering keeps strawberries healthy and disease-free.

Strawberries are not drought tolerant. They are shallow-rooted and need consistent water to thrive. However, it’s important that the soil does not get soggy either. Root rot, crown rot, and various types of foliar diseases are common in strawberries grown in heavy, waterlogged soils.

Avoid overwatering by checking the soil moisture before irrigating. It’s best to irrigate with drip lines or soaker hoses so the water is delivered straight to the root zone of the plant. Watering from overhead with sprinklers can promote more foliar issues.

Amend Loamy Soil

Close-up of a large garden shovel full of wet compost against a blurred background of a wooden raised bed with growing strawberry plants. Compost appears as a rich, dark mixture, resembling crumbly soil.
Rich, loamy soil fuels robust strawberry growth and abundant yields.

These herbaceous, low-growing fruits prefer loamy, well-drained soil. Amending with compost will help your plants grow more rapidly and produce higher yields of berries. Lots of organic matter is ideal for the fastest-growing strawberries. Heavy clay or compacted soil can slow the growth down because the plant roots have a harder time penetrating through the hard ground.

Prune Runners

Close-up of pruning strawberry runners in the garden. The gardener's hands are wearing red gloves and trimming runners with black scissors. The strawberry plant features bright green trifoliate leaves arranged alternately along its stems, each leaflet possessing serrated edges.
Trimming runners promotes quicker fruiting and prevents garden takeover.

Runner removal is crucial for faster-growing strawberry plants. Also known as stolons, runners suck energy away from plant development. Remember to prune runners any time you see them. This will help your plants produce fruits faster without getting distracted by their need to spread. It will also ensure that strawberries don’t take over your garden. 

Use Row Cover or Shade Cloth

Covering blooming strawberry with white agrofiber in the garden. The strawberry plant boasts vibrant green leaves characterized by three toothed leaflets arranged in an alternate pattern along the stems. These leaves are shiny and oval-shaped, with serrated edges, and they vary in size from small to medium. There are small white flowers with yellow centers among the leaves.
Maintain ideal temperatures for optimal strawberry production with protective covers.

Research shows that strawberries produce best in temperatures between 45-86°F (7-30°C). If the weather is too cold or too hot, the plants may stop producing flowers. In cold climates, row cover is helpful in the early season to keep the temperatures cozy and help plants grow more quickly.

In warm climates, shade cloth can cool down the plants

Low tunnels made of PVC or curved piping can elevate the fabric off the top of the plants. However, pollinators still need to access the fruits. Some growers remove the fabrics during different parts of the day to ensure that bees can still pollinate the blossoms.

Final Thoughts

Strawberries take about three months from planting to their first fruits. It’s best to start from bare-root crowns or established plugs. Day-neutral varieties like ‘Albion’ or ‘Seascape’ are highly recommended for beginner gardeners who want to enjoy consistent berry harvests in the first season. 

These plants naturally undergo six main stages of growth, including:

  1. Bare crown or seedling stage
  2. Root establishment
  3. Vegetative growth (leaves and shoots)
  4. Flowering
  5. Fruiting
  6. Dormancy

You can’t change the lifecycle of your plants, but you can ensure the fastest possible growth by providing low-stress conditions like consistent moisture, quality soil, and protection from extreme weather.

Strawberry thinning process. Close-up of a sanitary worker's hands in bright orange gloves using black pruning shears to trim young strawberry runners in a strawberry bed. The strawberry plant is characterized by its low-growing habit, with lush green leaves forming a dense rosette at ground level. The leaves are trifoliate, each with serrated edges and a vibrant green hue.


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