How to Grow Strawberries in Vertical Containers

Strawberries are the most beginner-friendly fruits, and they happily grow in vertical containers! In this article, garden expert and former organic berry farmer Logan Hailey explains how to grow juicy, sweet berries in a small space.

vertical strawberries


You don’t need a huge space to grow strawberries. You can harvest abundant yields from even the smallest patio! These beginner-friendly fruits readily produce in vertical containers, providing sweet, juicy berries all summer long. Vertical growing is particularly advantageous for this sun-loving plant because you can ensure proper drainage, lots of airflow, and clean fruit.

From hanging baskets to small pots to raised beds, strawberries will grow in nearly any container. But a Greenstalk vertical planter is the best way to maximize yields in a small space. This tower-growing method stacks a bunch of plants on top of each other, allowing the berries to dangle off the side to harvest as needed.

Let’s dig into everything you need to know about growing strawberries vertically!

YouTube video

GreenStalk 7 Tier Vertical Planter

GreenStalk 7 Tier Vertical Planter
  • Compact Vertical Design
  • Modular Planting System
  • Patented Watering System
  • Durable Construction
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Can You Grow Strawberries in a Greenstalk?

Growing strawberries in a Greenstalk planter creates a vertical, tower-like display with cascading green foliage and vibrant red berries peeking out from each tier.
The Greenstalk tower is ideal for growing clean, accessible strawberries.

A Greenstalk vertical plant tower is the perfect place to grow strawberries. The 7-10 inch deep planting pockets provide ample space for shallow-rooted strawberries. You can easily fill the vertical tower with a quality organic potting mix that is rich in compost and ideal for enhancing drainage. 

The stacked container design allows berries to hang off the side of the container, keeping them clean, disease-free, and accessible to harvest. It also keeps the berries safer from pests like pill bugs, slugs, and earwigs. 

Plants growing in a Greenstalk are easy to prune and water. The strawberry runners will fly off to the side without anywhere to root. This makes sucker removal super simple and quick. 

If you don’t have much space in your garden or you’ve struggled with tangled messes of strawberry plants, try growing vertically to maximize your yields with less effort.

9 Steps to Grow Abundant Strawberries in Vertical Containers

The best time to plant strawberries in vertical containers is in early spring when the risk of frost has passed. However, you can also start later in the summer in mild climates.

Going vertical is similar to growing in the ground but requires some special modifications to ensure your plants produce in a smaller space. As long as you have the right container, varieties, and maintenance, berries could be on your table in just a few months!

Choose Compact Day-Neutral Varieties

Day-neutral strawberries are compact plants with green foliage that produce small to medium-sized, bright red berries.
Day-neutral strawberries are ideal for continuous yields in vertical containers.

Not all strawberries are created equal! Choosing the right cultivar ensures that your vertical containers will yield prolifically. But choosing the wrong cultivar could leave you with an overgrown mess that doesn’t yield for another year.

There are three main types of strawberries:


Produce a bulk of berries at once in a single midsummer flush


Two to three smaller harvests throughout the season as long as it’s 45-80°F (7-27°C)


Reliably produces berries continuously regardless of season or temperature

Day-neutral varieties are the best for vertical containers and home gardeners in general. They fruit regardless of the day length or temperature. Better yet, they produce berries within three months of planting. ‘Seascape’ and ‘Albion’ are two of the best varieties in terms of flavor, productivity, and compact growth. 

As long as you stay on top of sucker removal (which we’ll explain below), these shrubby plants can thrive in a GreenStalk planter.

Fill With Quality Soil

Close-up of a gardener filling the first level of a vertical strawberry growing container with fresh, quality soil.
Prepare your GreenStalk with rich, well-draining soil for strawberries.

To prepare for planting, you must first fill your container with soil. Unlike hydroponic growing, vertical gardening still uses real soil to support the plant roots. The trick is that this soil is elevated in individual planting holes or pockets.

One major benefit of this growing style is the reduced soil requirements. A large raised bed can be expensive to fill, but if you are using a 5-Tier GreenStalk, you only need about five cubic feet (40 gallons) of potting soil. A 7-Tier GreenStalk requires 5.5 cubic feet (42 gallons) of soil.

The best soil for strawberries is rich in compost and organic matter. It should have plenty of drainage materials like perlite or vermiculite. You can also add peat moss for moisture retention. A generous dose of compost ensures you don’t need to fertilize the plants. Some potting mixes are labeled specifically for strawberries, but any standard garden blend will suffice.

Plant Bare-root Strawberries

Bare-root strawberries are strawberry crowns that look like weird nubs with alien hairs. Although they appear almost dead, these spindly brown crowns are actually dormant strawberry plants. Dormant plants are cheaper and easier to ship and store.

They usually arrive with little to no green leafy growth and the occasional tannish-brown short twigs at the top. The long hairs are the roots. In the center is the crown. It is crucial to understand the anatomy of the strawberry crown!

Strawberry Crown Anatomy

Close-up of a gardener showing strawberry bare root seedling which consists of a small, dormant plant with a central crown and a cluster of roots.
Plant strawberry crowns halfway for optimal growth and harvest.

Look at your bare-root strawberries and find any signs of new growth. The little green leaves emerge from the top of the crown. Notice how the crown is brownish and semi-woody, then it gives way to the long roots. This is where all the magic happens! You must ensure that the strawberry crown is planted no more than halfway submerged in the soil.

Never plant your strawberry crowns any deeper than halfway! The crowns easily rot in the soil, which means no berry harvests. However, you must also avoid planting too shallowly. If any roots are exposed above the soil, they can dry out and die.

How to Plant

Close-up of a gardener's hands planting strawberry bare root seedling into soil in a vertical container in a sunny garden.
Plant bare root crowns straight down near container edges for growth.

Use a hori hori knife or planting trowel to make deep holes in each planting pocket. As you plunge the hori hori into the soil, shift the soil to the side and lower the bare root crown in. The roots should point straight down. There is no need to “fan” them out to the side. 

Once the roots are lowered straight into the soil, hold the crown with one hand and use your other hand to backfill. Bring the soil up to the base of the bare root plant, fully covering the roots. Keep the upper half of the crown, twigs, and tiny new growth above the soil surface. Use your hands to press the inward and down, securing the plant’s upright position. 

Remember that the roots are completely bare, so they need plenty of root-to-soil contact to help them start growing again. It is also important that the crown is anchored in the soil so it doesn’t float upward or get displaced when you water. Slight soil compression is ideal!

In most vertical containers, you need to plant the crowns near the outer edge to ensure that the plants cascade over the side as they grow. Keep the crowns close to the edge so the foliage will overhang, but the roots can grow inward. Only plant one crown per planting pocket, or leave at least six inches of space between each plant.

Avoid These Mistakes

Close-up of a gardener pressing the soil around a freshly transplanted strawberry bare root seedling in a container.
Double-check planting details to ensure successful strawberry growth.

If you mess up your strawberry planting, you may not find out until it’s too late. Be sure to double-check every crown before moving forward. Avoiding common strawberry-growing mistakes will prevent crop failure and save you a lot of money.

Ask yourself:

  • Did I bury the crown? The central “nub” should be at least halfway above the soil.
  • Is the soil hugging the crown and roots? Compress the soil close to the plant to secure it.
  • Are the roots exposed? The tannish-brown roots should be fully buried.
  • Are the plants growing near the edge? You want the strawberries to cascade off the side.

Fill all of your planting tiers with soil and bare-root strawberries before continuing to the assembly phase.

Pro Tip: If you have extra bare root crowns after planting, use these as your “strawberry insurance.” Plant the leftover bare roots in a large pot filled with soil. Leave them to root and develop leaves so you have replacements if any of the plants in your GreenStalk die.

You can even use these leftovers to propagate your own strawberry bare roots for next season! All you need to do is leave the suckers to root and grow, then dig them up at the end of the season. Prune back the leaves, wrap them in a moist towel, and let them go dormant in your refrigerator.

Bare Roots vs. Seedling Plugs

strawberries seedling plugs
For easier planting, consider using strawberry seedling plugs.

Planting is the most finicky part of the process, so it is very important to plant your bare root plants properly. If you don’t feel ready to learn the anatomy of a strawberry crown, it may be easier (but more expensive) to source strawberry seedling plugs. 

Seedlings come from the nursery already rooted in cell trays like standard vegetable starts. You may notice less varietal selection when you purchase seedlings compared to bare roots. However, they arrive with full leafy growth and strong root balls, making them easier to transplant and slightly quicker to yield.

Water Generously

Close-up of a gardener watering a freshly planted strawberry seedling in a container using a hose with a spray nozzle.
Keep newly planted bare roots consistently moist for best growth.

Newly planted bare roots need a consistent supply of water. Give them a generous drink after planting and maintain consistent moisture. It’s best to check the tower every couple of days. As long as the soil doesn’t get too dry, you can expect green new growth within two to three weeks

Assemble Your GreenStalk or Vertical Tower

The gardener assembles GreenStalk by placing a second layer of containers on top of the first, containing fresh soil and young strawberry seedlings.
Maximize berry yields with a compact, efficient vertical planter.

A large 7-tier vertical planter can hold up to 42 strawberry plants, which can yield dozens of berries per plant throughout the season. Amazingly, this vertical container only has a footprint of two square feet, and it’s approximately four feet tall. Whether you choose this brand or build your own vertical growing system, you are ensured the highest yields per square foot of any other berry system. For comparison, in-ground strawberries are usually spaced six to eight inches apart.

To assemble the GreenStalk, begin by situating the bottom tier on a rolling base or a sunny area of your garden. The rolling base makes it easy to move the planter around and spin it around to ensure even sun exposure. Alternatively, you can create a DIY plant tower with PVC pipe or other plastic materials.

After the first tier, place the water diverter in the center of the container. Place the next tier on top and repeat the process until all of the tiers are stacked together. Notice how the plant pockets are arranged upward in a zig-zag pattern. The very top of the planter is open to allow for easy watering

Position and Rotate the Planter

A gardener rotates a tall vertical green planter with freshly transplanted strawberry seedlings in a sunny garden.
Rotate your planter to ensure even sunlight for all plants.

Position your planter in a bright area that receives six to eight hours of direct sun per day. However, take note of this one drawback to growing vertically: The sun only hits one side of the vertical planter at a time. One side of the planter is partially shaded by the tall structure, which could cause uneven growth for some of your berry plants.

Luckily, the GreenStalk Vertical Planter Spinning Base makes it easy to rotate the planter. It’s best to give the vertical planter about a one-half turn every couple of days to ensure the plants have even access to sunlight. If you don’t have the spinning base, you can modify your planter with castor wheels or another DIY moveable platform.

Prune Off Runners and Early Flowers

Close-up of a strawberry plant featuring trifoliate green leaves with serrated edges, red, juicy fruits and long, thin runners hanging from a vertical green container.
Regularly prune runners to maintain optimal berry production.

Runners, also known as suckers or stolons, are the long side shoots that strawberries send out to produce new plants. Removing them is crucial for success in a vertical container. Fortunately, it is much easier to prune berry plants that are growing vertically because the shoots are very obvious and accessible.

Strawberries naturally want to grow as a tangled groundcover. The plants send out long runners or suckers that pull energy away from fruit production. If the runners are left in place, they can grow into entirely new plants. 

How to Prune Vertical Strawberries

Close-up of a gardener's hands pruning a strawberry runner using red garden pruners.
Trim runners promptly to maintain concentrated berry growth.

Compared to raised garden beds, runner rooting is very unlikely in a vertical setting since the runners hover in the air. Still, the plant will try to send a lot of energy to develop new leaves at the tip of each runner. It’s best to prune them off as soon as you notice them. The process is super quick and easy!

The long stems of runners stand out distinctively from the leafy, bushy growth at the base of the plant. Each stem will have a distinctive bud or crown developing at its tip.

Use sharp, sanitized shears to snip off the runners at the base of each plant. Start on one side of your planter and move around to check that every plant has been pruned. 

Remove any dead leaves or stems to keep the plants tidy and disease-free.

Remove Flowers for the First 4-6 Weeks

Close-up of a small strawberry flower being pruned using red garden pruning shears.
Remove early blossoms to boost vegetative growth in strawberries.

It is also very helpful to remove the early flower blossoms in day-neutral and everbearing varieties. In the beginning stages of strawberry growth, you want your plants to channel their energy into vegetative production. Remember that bare root crowns arrived with little to no leaf or root growth. You don’t want them to focus on fruit production too soon, or it may hinder the overall yields later in the season. 

Use your fingers or clippers to pluck off the first few rounds of flowers. Remove the flowers from the base for the first four to six weeks of growth. Don’t worry. This won’t affect fruiting later in the season! Instead, flower removal will encourage the plants to send out lots of new green growth. Once there are lots of healthy leaves, you can allow the blossoms to stay in place and develop into an abundance of fruit.

If you are growing June-bearing varieties, some sources suggest removing all the flowers for the first year of growth to stimulate huge yields in the second year. But most of us don’t want to wait an entire year for strawberries! Day-neutrals are much more reliable and convenient. 

Water Regularly

Close-up of filling the water basin in a vertical planter with water using a hose with a spray nozzle.
Keep strawberries well-watered for healthy growth and fruit production.

Strawberries are thirsty plants with fairly shallow roots. Vertical towers are awesome for providing extra drainage and warmth. However, this also means that the soil can dry out more quickly. It is important to keep the planter thoroughly watered. The soil should be consistently moist throughout the season, especially in the early stages and during fruiting.

Use your finger to check the soil moisture. It should feel close to the consistency of a wrung-out sponge or slightly wetter. If no soil sticks to your skin, it is a sign that the plants need a drink. Strawberries may also wilt or turn yellow and brown if they get dehydrated. A layer of straw mulch keeps the soil protected from drying UV rays.

To water a GreenStalk, use a hose or watering can to pour water from the top of the planter. Fill the water basin whenever it is empty, and the soil feels dry. The cool thing about this system is that it has a built-in irrigation setup that evenly waters all of the tiers at once. The central channel ensures that water naturally filters through all the levels of soil. Kevin explains more about watering a GreenStalk in this video:

YouTube video

Other vertical containers may require watering individual pockets to keep the soil moist but never soggy.

Expect Berries in 6-8 Weeks

The strawberry plant has vibrant green, serrated leaves, produces bright red, juicy fruits with tiny seeds on the surface.
Harvest strawberries when fully red for best flavor and freshness.

Most strawberry varieties will start yielding in as little as six weeks! The little green immature fruits will appear after the flowers are pollinated. If your planter is located outside in the garden, bees can help do the legwork. If you are growing on a patio or porch, it helps to plant other flowers and hanging baskets nearby to attract more bees.

When the berries start turning red, wait a couple of days to harvest. A fully red berry is perfectly ripe when it has a slight softness to the touch. You can snip ripe berries from the base and pop them right in your mouth or your harvest container. 

Avoid leaving overripe or rotten berries to hang over the planter. They taste nasty and can contribute to spreading disease.

Harvest Consistently

Close-up of a gardener's hands cutting ripe bright red heart-shaped strawberries using scissors.
Choose day-neutral strawberries that yield berries all summer with consistent harvesting.

Day-neutral strawberries are amazing because they will continuously produce berries all summer long. If you keep harvesting ripe fruit, the plants will keep cranking out new flowers until the weather gets too cold. Strawberry plants only stop producing in peak summer in the hottest regions, but rest assured that they will resume flower production once temperatures cool down. 

Final Thoughts

Strawberries are the perfect crop for growing vertically! If you’ve grown these plants before, you will notice that most of the care instructions are the same as potted or raised bed strawberries. But if this is your first time, rest assured that a vertical tower makes tending strawberries super easy

Remember to fill the planter with quality compost-rich soil, avoid burying the crowns too deep, prune away runners, and water regularly!

A close-up of freshly picked strawberries in a harvest basket nestled in straw mulch, surrounded by vibrant green strawberry leaves.


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