Using the right fertilizer for strawberries encourages healthier plants, which means plentiful harvests and delicious strawberries. Strawberries are among the most popular small fruits grown by home gardeners. Besides producing scrumptious fruits, strawberries are relatively easy to grow in both small containers and large garden plots. Read on to learn more about the best way to maintain a strawberry patch.
- BEST OVERALL: Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer 4-3-6
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Scotts All Purpose Plant Food
- BEST ORGANIC: Jobe’s Organics Granular Fertilizer
- BEST LIQUID: Triple 10 All Purpose Liquid Fertilizer
- BEST POWDER: Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Veggie and Herb Plant Food
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: EcoScraps for Organic Gardening Berry Plant Food
- ALSO CONSIDER: Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Plant Granules
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Strawberries
Healthy and well-maintained strawberry plants produce rich and flavorful strawberries that are perfect for munching on or adding to desserts. Fertilizing strawberry plants can help them reach their full potential. When choosing the best fertilizer for strawberries, consider the berry variety, fertilizer type and ingredients, ease of use, and whether the fertilizer is organic or inorganic.
When it comes to strawberry varieties, there are three overarching categories: June-bearing, ever-bearing, and day-neutral. June-bearing strawberries are the most commonly grown strawberry type for home growers. These plants produce fruits in one go over a few short weeks in the early summer. June-bearing strawberries should be fertilized immediately after the last harvest of the season.
Ever-bearing strawberries give two or more smaller harvests. They usually have two main harvests: one in early summer and another toward the end of summer.
Day-neutral varieties produce fruit (usually smaller berries) on and off throughout the growing season. Since these plants produce fruit throughout the summer, they benefit from three or four feedings spread out evenly through the growing season.
Types of Fertilizers for Strawberries
Fertilizers can come in liquid, powder, and granule formulations. Liquid fertilizers come in a water-based solution that’s easy to apply and absorbs quickly. Liquid-based fertilizers wash out of the soil easily from watering or rain, which means they may need more frequent application.
Powder fertilizers work similarly to liquid fertilizers, but they arrive in powder form instead. Gardeners mix the powder with water to make the final product. Powder fertilizer is more compact and, therefore, easier to store.
Granules are sprinkled onto the soil around strawberry plants either by hand or using a shake-feed bottle or device. As the granules dissolve from watering or rainfall, they release nutrients into the soil.
NPK stands for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), three key nutrients for healthy plant growth. Frequently, the outside label of a fertilizer bag will display an NPK ratio, which is listed as three numbers separated by dashes. Each number represents the percentage ratio of that nutrient in the fertilizer.
Fertilizers with a range of NPK ratios can be used. Strawberries are hardy plants that can grow just about anywhere, and they’ll take advantage of any nutrients they’re given. A soil test can help gardeners determine what nutrients their soil is lacking so they can choose an NPK ratio accordingly. In many cases, a balanced 1-1-1 fertilizer (like 10-10-10 fertilizer) is suitable for overall plant health. A balanced fertilizer can help prevent overproduction of leaves and encourage better berry production.
It’s important to follow the directions on the fertilizer to prevent overfertilization of the strawberry plants. Overfertilizing will often result in more leaves rather than better berries.
As the name suggests, slow-release formulas slowly release the fertilizer over time, feeding plants for anywhere from weeks to months. Slow-release formulas are beneficial because they require less-frequent reapplication while still providing a steady feed.
Strawberries are shallow-rooted plants, so a slow-release fertilizer allows them to uptake nutrients over time. In general, slow-release formulas can lessen the chance of fertilizer burn (which happens when plants get more fertilizer than they can deal with).
Slow-release fertilizers are frequently found in granule form. Granules allow for a slower release of fertilizer over time (anywhere from weeks to months), as they dissolve slowly when they come in contact with water.
Easy to Use
A good fertilizer should be easy to use. Home gardeners put a lot of work into maintaining their precious plants, and there’s no need to make it more complicated with a fertilizer that’s finicky to apply.
Most fertilizers are easy to apply, though some require basic tools. Granules are the simplest to use and can be sprinkled by hand. Many granule fertilizers also come with shake-top containers for an even spread.
Concentrated liquid and powder fertilizers need to be mixed with water in a large container, which is an extra step. Liquid and powder fertilizers are best applied with a sprayer or watering pot to ensure even application around the plants.
Organic or Inorganic
Choosing organic or inorganic fertilizers comes down to the discretion of each gardener. Both types contain nutrients needed to grow healthy strawberry plants. Organic fertilizers are made from natural materials, while inorganic fertilizers can contain man-made ingredients.
Inorganic fertilizers are affordable and easy to find. They’re specifically formulated to provide plants with necessary nutrients and can come in fast-acting or slow-release formulas. They also contain higher concentrations of those nutrients.
Organic fertilizers are made from plant or animal sources. They aren’t as fast acting, instead working over time to create healthier soil. Nitrogen-rich organic ingredients are a good choice for strawberries. Some ingredient options include blood meal, fish meal, soy meal, and alfalfa meal, all of which contain a decent amount of nitrogen.
Our Top Picks
With their sweet flavor and tender texture, strawberries are a favorite among home gardeners and foodies alike. Check out our list just ahead of the best fertilizers for strawberries.
Strawberries do best in slightly acidic soil (in the 6 to 7 pH range). Specially formulated for acid-loving plants, Down to Earth’s All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer 4-3-6 is an excellent choice for strawberries. It’s also a good pick for other plants in a garden that prefer a low pH, including blueberries, raspberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, and evergreens.
The backbone of this all-natural 4-3-6 formula is cottonseed meal, which is traditionally used for plants that prefer acidic soil. Other beneficial natural ingredients include fish bone meal, rock phosphate, langbeinite, kelp meal, and humates. These high-quality ingredients help plants grow robustly in the growing season, as well as harden them against winter stress for a healthier plant come next season.
- Type: Granules
- NPK ratio: 4-3-6
- Suitable for: Plants that prefer acidic soil
- Formulated for plants that prefer a low pH
- All-natural ingredients
- Works well for several berry types
- Less versatile
- Requires special care in acidic soil
In many cases, an all-purpose fertilizer is suitable for strawberry plants. Scotts All Purpose Granules Plant Food is a budget-friendly choice for fertilizing all kinds of garden plants, including strawberries. The 10-10-10 balanced formula promotes abundant harvests and blossoming flowers for a more fruitful garden.
The continuous-release granules are easy to spread and can be poured directly from the resealable bag. An application feeds plants for up to 2 months; just scatter it and trust the fertilizer to do its work over time. This fertilizer is a slow-release formula, so it won’t burn strawberry plants, vegetables, or other plants when used as directed.
- Type: Granule
- NPK ratio: 10-10-10
- Suitable for: All-purpose use
- Feeds plants up to 2 months
- Higher concentration means it may burn plants if too much is applied
One benefit of growing strawberries at home is total control over the growing process. Many gardeners opt to grow organic strawberries, which requires a suitable organic fertilizer. This all-purpose organic fertilizer from Jobe’s is a strong choice for that; it’s listed by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute, a nonprofit organization that reviews garden materials) as suitable for certified organic gardening.
The fast-acting granular fertilizer is ideal for strawberry patches and other outdoor gardens. The balanced 4-4-4 NPK fertilizer comes in an easy-pour bag for simple application. The ingredients include feather meal, bone meal, processed poultry manure, and sulfate of potash. To help nutrients transfer to plant roots, it also contains microbes that break down materials for quicker results. On top of facilitating plant uptake, these beneficial bacteria, fungi, and archaea help improve surrounding soil conditions.
- Type: Granule
- NPK ratio: 4-4-4
- Suitable for: All-purpose use
- Fast-acting granules
- No synthetic chemicals
- Enhanced with microbes
- OMRI listed for organic gardening
Liquid fertilizers absorb quickly, which means a speedy uptake ideal for struggling strawberry patches. Triple 10 All Purpose Liquid Fertilizer is an all-purpose fertilizer designed for all types of plants and at all stages of plant growth.
This bottle includes enough highly concentrated formula to make up to 32 gallons of fertilizer. Users can adjust the fertilizer concentration (the instructions are for a 10-10-10 ratio) and make smaller or larger batches of fertilizer, making it a great choice for both indoor and outdoor plants.
A measuring device is built right into the bottle, which means no need to search for a measuring spoon. Just remove the measuring section cap and squeeze the bottle to measure the desired amount of fertilizer.
- Type: Liquid
- NPK ratio: 10-10-10
- Suitable for: All-purpose use
- Concentrated formula
- Users can adjust the concentration and amount of fertilizer
- Measuring device built into the bottle
- Product odor
- Requires measuring and mixing to make fertilizer
Powder fertilizers offer the benefits of liquid fertilizers, like fast plant uptake and easy application, but come in a shelf-stable, compact powder form. This powder fertilizer from Miracle-Gro is formulated for edibles, namely vegetable and herb gardens. The formula is made to encourage a better harvest, and since it’s nitrogen rich, it can also help out your strawberry patch.
Using the included spoon, just mix this powder with water and apply using a watering can or spray device. This formula instantly feeds to nourish plants. Since it has a higher NPK content, take care to follow the directions to avoid burning plants. This versatile powder fertilizer is also excellent for other veggies in the garden, including tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, basil, and other herbs and vegetables.
- Type: Powder
- NPK ratio: 18-18-21
- Suitable for: Edible plants like vegetables and herbs
- Easy-to-use powder formula
- Instant uptake
- Includes measuring scoop
- Higher concentration can burn plants if not used correctly
EcoScraps Berry Plant Food is specially formulated for berry plants and is a good fertilizer for raspberries and blueberries in addition to strawberries. Besides its healthy blend of berry-nourishing ingredients, it’s also made with sustainability in mind. The formula includes ingredients derived from food waste from all parts of the food life cycle—essentially taking food garbage and turning it into food for plants. This process reduces landfill waste.
Easy-to-pour particles allow for clean, simple application. To ensure an even application, each granule contains the full guaranteed analysis to encourage juicy and scrumptious berries.
- Type: Granule
- NPK ratio: 4-5-4
- Suitable for: All berry types
- Made from repurposed food waste
- Suitable for organic gardening
- Each particle contains full guaranteed analysis
Using organic and natural ingredients, this fertilizer from Miracle-Gro encourages better vegetable and fruit production. Miracle-Gro has a reputation for creating effective, affordable fertilizers, and this product boasts the brand’s effectiveness—but using natural rather than chemical ingredients.
These all-purpose granules provide vital nutrients quickly to show visible results in as few as 7 days. The ingredients list includes feather and soybean meal (excellent nitrogen sources), sunflower hull, rock phosphate, and sulfate of potash (which aids in fruit development and color). The granules come in an easy-pour container that features a large handle and a shaker lid to evenly scatter the particles in the garden.
- Type: Granule
- NPK ratio: 9-2-7
- Suitable for: All-purpose use
- Organic and natural
- Suitable for veggies, fruits, flowers, and herbs
- Built-in bottle applicator
Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer is an excellent choice for strawberries. It’s formulated using high-quality natural ingredients specifically for plants that prefer a low pH (like strawberries). Those looking for an affordable all-purpose option for the entire garden should reach for Scotts All Purpose Granules Plant Food, which nourishes vegetables, berries, and more.
How We Chose the Best Fertilizer for Strawberries
Strawberries are a popular choice for home gardeners because they’re relatively simple to grow and maintain. Using a fertilizer helps maximize their fruit yield, but choosing the right one can feel overwhelming.
Luckily, strawberries are hardy fruits and many fertilizer types will work, which means you can often use the same fertilizer for strawberries as for other plants. This is why we chose a variety of products, from all-purpose fertilizers to those made for growing berries. We selected several different types of fertilizers—including granules, liquids, and powders—to suit different gardeners’ preferences.
Through product research, we chose fertilizers with high-quality ingredients and good overall performance. We also took consumer reviews into account to ensure the fertilizers on this list are effective and easy to use.
Strawberries are an easy-to-grow fruit with a delicious yield and are the perfect plant for both new and experienced gardeners. With proper pruning and fertilizing, strawberry plants will have their best chance at producing sweet and plentiful fruits. Read on for some common questions on fertilizing strawberry plants.
Q. When should I fertilize my strawberry plants?
Fertilization requirements depend on both where your plants are in their growing cycle and the strawberry variety. For a new strawberry patch, fertilize the area before planting. For most types of established berries, fertilize in early spring as needed (if the plants look weak or pale) and then the following harvest, usually in mid- or late summer. Avoid fertilizing June-bearing strawberries in the spring as this can result in soft berries; fertilize June-bearing berries only after harvest instead.
Q. How can I make my strawberries grow better?
Plant your strawberries in a sunny location and use well-drained, fertile soil. Keep the soil moist during the entire growing season. Proper watering and pruning as well as occasional fertilizing (both of which depend on the strawberry variety) will help maintain your plant’s health and allow it to thrive.
Q. What is the best thing to feed strawberry plants?
A balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer is an excellent choice for most strawberry plants.
Q. How do I increase the yield of strawberries?
In the first month after planting, pinch the flowers off of the strawberry plants to encourage the plant to put more energy into establishing its roots. Once established, prune the runners as recommended for the particular strawberry variety. Pruning runners allows the plant to focus more energy on producing bigger, better berries rather than growing the runners.
Q. Do strawberries like acidic soil?
Yes, strawberries prefer acidic soil with a pH between 6 and 7.
Q. How often should I fertilize strawberries?
Most strawberry varieties should be fertilized once or twice per year