White Strawberry Plants: Tips For Growing White Strawberries
There’s a new berry in town. Okay, it’s not really new but it certainly may be unfamiliar to many of us. We’re talking the white strawberry plants. Yes, I said white. Most of us think of luscious, juicy red strawberries, but these berries are white. Now that I’ve piqued your interest, let’s learn about growing white strawberries and what types of white strawberries are available.
Types of White Strawberries
Probably one of the more commonly grown, the white alpine strawberry is one of several varieties of white strawberries. Before we get into that, let’s get a little background on white strawberries in general.
While there are several varieties of white strawberry, they are hybrids and don’t grow true from seed. There are two strawberry species, Alpine (Fragaria vesca) and Beach (Fragaria chiloensis), that are true white strawberries. F. vesca is native to Europe and F. chiloensis is a wild species native to Chile. So why are they white if they are strawberries?
Red strawberries begin as small white flowers that turn into pea-sized green berries. As they grow, they first turn white and then, as they mature, begin to take on a pink and finally a red color when completely ripe. The red in the berries is a protein called Fra a1. White strawberries are simply lacking in this protein, but for all intents and purposes retain the essential look of a strawberry, including the flavor and the aroma, and can be used in much the same ways as their red counterpart.
Many people have allergies to red strawberries, but what about a white strawberry allergy. Because white strawberries lack the protein that results in pigment and which is responsible for strawberry allergies, it is likely that a person with such allergies can eat white strawberries. That said, anyone with an allergy to strawberries should err on the side of caution and test this theory out under medical supervision.
White Strawberry Varieties
Both alpine and beach strawberries are wild species. Among the white alpine strawberry (member of the species Fragaria vesca) varieties, you’ll find:
- Pineapple Crush
- White Delight
- White Giant
- White Solemacher
- White Soul
White beach strawberries (member of the species Fragaria chiloensis) are also referred to as coastal strawberries, wild Chilean strawberries, and South American strawberries. Beach strawberries were cross bred to result in today’s familiar red strawberry varieties.
Hybrids of the white strawberry include the white pineberries (Fragaria x ananassa). If these ripen in the sun, however, they turn a pinkish hue; therefore, anyone with strawberry allergies should not consume them! The flavor of these berries is a unique blend of pineapple and strawberry. Pineberries originate in South America and were brought to France. They are now enjoying resurgence in popularity and popping up all over, but with limited availability in the United States. Another Fragaria x ananassa hybrid, Keoki is similar to pineberry but without the pineapple note.
The hybrid varieties tend to be sweeter than the true species but all the white strawberry varieties have similar notes of pineapple, green leaves, caramel and grapes.
White Strawberry Growing
White strawberries are easy perennial plants to grow either in the garden or in containers. You should plant them in an area that is sheltered from potential late spring frosts and in an area of about 6 hours of sunlight. Plants can be started indoors as seed or purchased as transplants. Transplant in the spring or fall when the minimum outdoor soil temperature is 60 degrees F. (15 C.).
All strawberries are heavy feeders, especially of phosphorus and potassium. They enjoy well-drained, loamy soil and should be fertilized as necessary. Plant the transplants until the root is completely covered with soil and the crown is just above the soil line. Water them in well and continue to maintain a consistent source of irrigation, about 1 inch a week and ideally with a drip irrigation system to keep the water off the leaves and fruit, which can foster fungus and disease.
White strawberries can be grown in USDA zones 4-10 and will attain a height of between 6-8 inches tall by 10-12 inches across. Happy white strawberry growing!
White Alpine, Strawberry Seeds
Strawberries are frequently grown from bareroot, which are seeds that have developed and grown into roots, which are then easier to start in a garden. However, it is possible to start strawberry plants from seeds as well.
Before Planting: Bareroot strawberries can be planted at any time, strawberry seeds must be started indoors in to ensure they are ready to go when it comes to their normal growing season. To ensure strawberry seeds will grow when you plant them, you must first stratify them. To do this, place the strawberry seeds in an envelope or sealed plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator for a month.
Planting: For strawberry seeds, sow seeds thinly in 8-10 weeks before last frost in a fine soilless mix. Press seeds into moist mix and keep moist until plants emerge in 2-3 weeks. Keep soil temperature constantly at 60°F. Transplant to plug trays when true leaves emerge. Transplant outdoors anytime after last frost, 1′ apart. Tolerant to partial shade, and they prefer moist soil. For strawberry roots, healthy root systems will arrive fresh and ready to plant. Once they have arrived it is important to plant with a few days to keep the roots from drying out. If the strawberry roots can not be planted right away they should be stored at 28-35ºF to keep dormant. In general the strawberry roots can be planted in the ground, containers, or hanging pots. Strawberries are extremely adaptable and are grown in every state in the U.S. They will benefit from mulch such as straw, pine needles, or plastic. They prefer a soil rich in all the basic nutrients with a pH of 6-6.5.
Watering: Water the strawberries at least 1 inch a week.
Fertilizer: Begin the fertilizing process when seedlings are still indoors. Start fertilizing with liquid kelp every two weeks for the first month of growth.
Days to Maturity: Strawberries are ready to harvest as soon as they turn red.
Harvesting: When they are ready to harvest, cut the berry off at the stem. Do not pull the berry from the stem to harvest it. Unwashed strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days.
Tips: When the strawberries are harvested, they should be slightly firm to the touch, but if strawberries are too mushy, they can be used to make jellies and jams.
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