How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois
Planting Depth – Try to plant strawberries on a cloudy day or during the late afternoon. Set the strawberry plant in the soil so that the soil is just covering the tops of the roots. Do not cover the crown. After four or five weeks, the plants will produce runners and new daughter plants. The center plant is set correctly, with the soil just covering the tops of the roots. The plant on the left is set too shallow; the plant on the right too deep.

What are the best strawberries to grow in Illinois?

How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois Remember when strawberries grew with red centers, juicy and packed with flavor? The best way to enjoy those strawberries again requires growing them yourself. In Illinois, we plant strawberries in April, if weather and soil conditions allow. Choose a site receiving full sun for a minimum of six hours a day.

  1. Strawberries will grow in most soil conditions but like a lot of nutrients, so enhance the soil by digging in composted manure.
  2. The shape of your bed makes a big difference when harvesting.
  3. Strawberries don’t get very tall, so you have to kneel along the row to harvest.
  4. You don’t want the row width deeper than you can easily reach to the center.

Four feet works well as long as the space allows you to kneel on both sides of the row. The number of plants you purchase determines the length of the row. Plan on two staggered rows in a 4-foot-wide bed. Place the transplants 18 inches apart. Order your transplants from a nursery. Strawberries come in two kinds – everbearing and June bearing. For the best taste and size of harvest, stick with the June bearers. All Star, Red Chief and Honeoye grow well in Illinois, but consider other varieties, too. Check with your University of Illinois Extension office for additional information.

  1. Planting depth determines success or failure.
  2. The transplants arrive with a crown attached to bare roots.
  3. Spread the roots out and just cover with soil.
  4. The crown must be above the soil level.
  5. Too high and the roots dry out, too low and the crown rots, so take your time to get it right.
  6. Finally, water the new plants.

Now comes the hard part. Most growers recommend picking off all the blossoms this first year, not allowing any berry growth. This forces the plant to put all its energy into the development of roots and daughter plants for a really good harvest the following year.

  • Personally, I’ve tried it both ways and prefer having two good harvests for the first two years instead of no harvest one year and a great harvest the second year.
  • In central Illinois, harvest usually happens the last two weeks of May into the first week of June, but you only get three weeks.
  • Pick daily.

Week one, you’ll have the big berries. Week two, they start decreasing in size. By week three, when you’ll likely tire of daily picking, the berries will be smaller and the end of the season quickly approaches. Following harvest, mow down the bed, leaving an inch of leaves above the crown.

When can I plant strawberries in Illinois?

When to Plant – Plant strawberries as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. This is usually in March or April allowing the plants to become well established before the hot weather arrives. Do not work the soil if it is wet. Wait a few days until it dries.

Can you eat wild strawberries in Illinois?

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) Wild Strawberry Fragaria virginiana Rose family (Rosaceae) Description: This herbaceous perennial plant is 4-7″ tall, consisting of several basal leaves and one or more inflorescences. The basal leaves are trifoliate.

  1. The leaflets are up to 2½” long and 1½” across; they are obovate or oval in shape and coarsely toothed along their middle to outer margins.
  2. The tips of leaflets are rounded, while their bottoms are either wedge-shaped or rounded.
  3. The upper leaflet surface is medium to dark green and glabrous.
  4. The lower leaflet surface is variably hairy; fine hairs are most likely to occur along the bases of central veins, but they may occur elsewhere along the lower surface.

Leaflet venation is pinnate and conspicuous. The petiolules (basal stalklets) of leaflets are light green, hairy, and very short (about 1 mm. in length). The petioles of basal leaves are up to 6″ long; they are light green to light reddish green, terete, and hairy.

One or more umbel-like clusters of flowers are produced from long peduncles up to 5″ long. These peduncles are light green to light reddish green, terete, and hairy. Each umbel-like cluster has about 4-6 flowers on pedicels up to ¾” long. These pedicels are light green to light reddish green, terete, and hairy.

HOW to PLANT and GROW STRAWBERRIES, plus TIPS for growing strawberries in HOT CLIMATES

At the base of these pedicels, there are several bracts up to ¼” long that are light green to dark red, lanceolate in shape, and hairy. How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois Individual flowers are about ½–¾” across when they are fully open; they can be pistillate, staminate, or perfect (staminate flowers are the least common). Each flower has 5 white petals, 5 green sepals, and 5 green sepal-like bracts. The petals are oval to orbicular in shape; they are longer than either the sepals or sepal-like bracts.

The sepals are lanceolate in shape and hairy, while the sepal-like bracts are linear-lanceolate and hairy; both sepals and sepal-like bracts are joined together at the base of the flower. Each pistillate flower has a dome-shaped cluster of pistils at its center that is greenish yellow or pale yellow.

Each staminate flower has 20-35 stamens with pale yellow filaments and yellow anthers. Each perfect flower has a dome-shaped cluster of pistils at its center and a ring of surrounding stamens. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer, lasting about 3-4 weeks.

  • Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by fruits when growing conditions are favorable, otherwise they abort.
  • These fruits are up to ½” long and across; they are globoid or globoid-ovoid in shape, becoming bright red at maturity.
  • Small seeds are scattered across the surface of these fruits in sunken pits; the persistent sepals and sepal-like bracts are appressed to the upper surface of these fruits.
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The fleshy interior of these fruits has a sweet-tart flavor; they are edible. The root system consists of a shallow crown with fibrous roots. After the production of flowers and fruits, hairy above-ground stolons up to 2′ long may develop from the crown. How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and fertile soil containing loam or clay-loam. Wild Strawberry is a cool-season plant that grows actively during the spring and fall, but it often becomes dormant after setting fruit during the hot summer months.

This plant is easy to cultivate, and it will spread to form a loose ground cover in open areas. The foliage is more resistant to foliar disease than most cultivated strawberries. While flowers are produced reliably every spring where there is adequate sunlight, the fruits may or may not develop, depending on the weather and environmental conditions.

Watering plants during dry spells in late spring and early summer probably encourages fruits to develop. These fruits are much smaller in size than those of cultivated strawberries. Range & Habitat: The native Wild Strawberry is common in most areas of Illinois, although in parts of NW and southern Illinois it is occasional or absent (see ).

Habitats include black soil prairies, hill prairies, bluegrass meadows, small meadows in wooded areas, open woodlands, woodland borders, savannas, limestone glades, roadsides, and areas along railroads. Wild Strawberry is able to tolerate competition from taller plants because it develops early in the spring, and it is able to tolerate some shade later in the year.

This plant occurs in both degraded and high quality habitats, often not far from wooded areas. How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois Faunal Associations: The ecological value of Wild Strawberry to various insects, birds, and animals is high. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract little carpenter bees ( Ceratina spp.), cuckoo bees ( Nomada spp.), mason bees ( Osmia spp.), Halictid bees (including green metallic bees), Halictid cuckoo bees ( Sphecodes spp.), Andrenid bees, Syrphid flies, thick-headed flies (Conopidae), Tachinid flies, bottle flies ( Lucilia spp.), flesh flies (Sarcophagidae), small butterflies, and skippers (see Robertson, 1929, & others).

  1. These floral visitors are beneficial because they cross-pollinate the flowers.
  2. Other insects feed destructively on the foliage and other parts of Wild Strawberry.
  3. Caterpillars of the Grizzled Skipper ( Pyrgus centaurae wyandot ) feed on this plant.
  4. Other insect feeders include larvae of such moths as the Strawberry Crown Borer ( Synanthedon bibionipennis ), Strawberry Leafroller Moth ( Ancylis comptana fragariae ), and Wild Strawberry Seed Borer ( Grapholita angleseana ).

The has a more complete list of moth species that feed on this plant. How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois Other insect feeders include the Strawberry Flea Beetle ( Altica ignita ) and other leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), the Strawberry Sap Beetle ( Stelidota gemmata ), the Strawberry Root Weevil ( Otiorhynchus ovatus ) and other weevils (Curculionidae), larvae of the Strawberry Reniform Gall Midge ( Cecidomyia reniformis ), larvae of the Strawberry Cylindrical Gall Wasp ( Diastrophus fragariae ), larvae of the Curled Rose Sawfly ( Allantus cinctus ) and other sawflies, the Strawberry Aphid ( Chaetosiphon fragaefolii ) and other aphids, and flower thrips.

The has a more complete list of insect species that feed on this plant. Various vertebrate animals eat the fruits and foliage of Wild Strawberry. Some upland gamebirds and songbirds eat the fruits, including the Ring-necked Pheasant, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Veery, and American Robin. Some mammals, including the American Black Bear, Opossum, Franklin Ground Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, and White-footed Mouse, also eat the fruits, as do the Eastern Box Turtle, Ornate Box Turtle, and Wood Turtle.

By eating the fruits, these animals spread the seeds to new locations. The foliage of Wild Strawberry is a source of food for the Ruffed Grouse and Cottontail Rabbit; it is also browsed by horses, cattle, sheep, and goats. The has a more complete list of vertebrate animals that feed on this plant. How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois Photographic Location: The photographs were taken along a roadside near Urbana, Illinois; at Dave Monk’s postage stamp prairie in Champaign, Illinois; and at the wildflower garden of the webmaster in Urbana, Illinois. Comments: This is one of the parent plants for the cultivated strawberry ( Fragaria × ananassa ).

The other parent plant of the cultivated strawberry is the Coastal Strawberry ( Fragaria chiloensis ). This latter species is found along the Pacific Coast in both North and South America. The cultivated strawberry inherited the superior flavor of the Wild Strawberry ( Fragaria virginiana ) and the larger fruit size of the Coastal Strawberry.

The Wild Strawberry produces attractive white flowers during the spring and small red fruits during the early summer. It is similar in appearance to another native species, the Hillside Strawberry ( Fragaria vesca americana ). The fruits of Hillside Strawberry have sepals and sepal-like bracts that are spreading to reflexed, rather than appressed.

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Can you grow berries in Chicago?

As gardeners use the winter months for much-needed planning, they might want to consider the delicious bramble and berry plants. BRAMBLES Brambles are those tasty, colorful delights of early summer and fall. The genus Rubus is divided into many species that include raspberries, blackberries, dewberries, and thimbleberries.

  1. They derive their name from their thorny or spiny canes and branches.
  2. Raspberries ( Rubus idaeus ) Raspberry bushes are either summer-bearing or everbearing.
  3. Even in Chicago, where the temperature can drop to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit, these shrubs are still hardy; and naturalistic gardeners choose them because they are guaranteed to attract birds.

Raspberries ripen in mid- to late June in northern Illinois. They like a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 and full sun, and are grown in rows with at least 3 feet between each plant. Horizontal supports are used to keep the canes in an upright position. Raspberry fruit can be red, yellow, purple, or black.

Their colors give an indication of when and how often fruit can be harvested. Though raspberries of all colors produce in the spring, the everbearing varieties produce in fall as well. ‘Sodus’ is a good purple form with few thorns, and ‘Fall Gold’ has extremely sweet yellow fruit. ‘Royalty’ is a sweet purple raspberry that can be eaten when it is red, but the flavor is much better when it’s fully ripe.

‘Jewel’ is a black raspberry with large, luscious fruit, and ‘Heritage’ is an everbearing red raspberry with good flavor. Pruning is essential for maximum fruit, and gardeners must know which variety they have before choosing among the different forms of pruning.

Some prune their shrubs to the ground in early spring, sacrificing the summer crop for the sake of one big bumper fall crop. Raspberry bushes send up suckering stems that must be cut out immediately with a sharp spade, although the black and purple varieties are a little tidier. Those who wonder whether they have black raspberries or blackberries should check the berries as they are harvested.

Raspberries pull away hollow from their stems, leaving their central receptacles attached to the plant; blackberries come away with their receptacles attached to the fruit. Blackberries ( Rubus cultivars) Blackberries ripen much later than raspberries and can be harvested in August.

They like a pH of 6 to 6.5 and full sun, and are grown in rows with 3 feet between each plant. They are often grown on a trellis or some other support, since they have a trailing habit. These plants are not reliably hardy in northern Illinois, but ‘Illini’ is one extremely hardy variety—it can withstand temperatures of minus 25 degrees.

Developed and patented by the University of Illinois, the berry is medium size, shiny black, and has a good flavor. ‘Chester’ is another hardy blackberry. It is thornless, has a tart, tangy flavor, and bears fruit into late summer. BERRIES Strawberries ( Fragaria x ananassa ) There are three types of strawberries available to gardeners: June-bearing, which produce one big early summer crop; everbearing, which produce one big crop followed by a smaller, later harvest; and day-neutrals, which produce berries all season long on plants that are considered annuals.

The Garden suggests planting a row of June-bearing strawberries on slightly mounded rows and mulching with straw to keep down weeds and retain moisture for these shallow-rooted plants. As the mother plants send out runners and flowers, pinch them, just the first year, to encourage stronger crowns, stronger flower stalks, and more fruit for the next year.

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Gardeners with little space might consider planting ‘Tribute’ or ‘Tristar’ berries in strawberry pots or in wooden pyramids. Blueberries ( Vaccinum corymbosum ) For pure ornamental value, the blueberry bush is hard to beat. From the early white, bell-shaped flowers through the final display of burgundy fall color, these handsome shrubs have much to offer home gardeners.

  1. The blue fruit will keep coming for months if different varieties are planted.
  2. Plant the 6-foot bushes singly or in hedge form.
  3. The 2-foot dwarf variety ‘Tophat’ is a good choice for a mixed perennial bed.
  4. Since blueberries require a very acid soil, gardeners must amend their heavy clay soil with several inches of compost or leaf mold as well as sulfur pellets (applied once in the fall) or granulated sulfur (applied in the fall and again in spring).

Birds love blueberries as much as gardeners do, so consider planting an extra bush for the birds or drape bird netting over the bushes as harvest time approaches. You might still lose the top 2 inches of berries from the bushes since the birds can peck that far through the netting.

Although blueberry bushes are self-pollinating, bigger and better berries result when two different varieties are planted to cross-pollinate. A few hot picks include ‘Blue Gold’, ‘Blueray’, Brigitta Blue’, ‘Coville’, and ‘Elliot’ (the latter fruits from August to September to really extend the season).

Gooseberries ( Ribes cultivars, Ribes uva-crispa ) Gooseberry plants, grown and appreciated for years by Europeans, are just now catching on in the Chicago area. The tart, smooth berries that are translucent green or pinkish-red grow on thorny plants that are easy to care for, especially for first-time berry growers.

Can you plant strawberries in June in Illinois?

Strawberry Growing Process – 1. Soil preparation How To Grow Strawberries In Illinois Remove weeds and loosen the soil with a hoe down to a depth of twelve inches. Work four inches of compost into the ground and ensure the pH is 5.5 to 6.5 for optimal growth.

  • You can also apply a 5-5-5 fertilizer at a rate of ⅛ cup per plant before planting.
  • As for where to plant strawberries, a location with eight to ten hours of sunlight per day and sandy, loamy soil is best.
  • 2. Selecting strawberry varieties
  • June-bearing, everbearing, and day-neutral strawberries can all grow in Illinois.
  • However, of these different kinds of strawberries, June bearers will have the best taste with the biggest size.
  • Day-neutral and everbearing varieties are more suitable for growers with little gardening space and a hill planting system, whereas June-bearing strawberries complement matted rows the best.

Which type you choose ultimately depends on your circumstances and preference. For reference, here are some strawberry varieties that adapt to Illinois’ climate well.

Category Cultivar Note
June-bearing Earliglow Resistant to red stele root rot and verticillium wilt. Suitable for both garden beds and containers.
Delmarvel Resistant to root rot and most stem diseases. Firm and tasty when eaten fresh or preserved.
Jewel Resistant to cold temperatures, but susceptible to red stele disease. Excellent in pies and jams.
Allstar Resistant to red stele root rot and powdery mildew. Glossy and very sweet.
Day-neutral Tristar Resistant to red stele root rot and verticillium wilt. Produces sizable fruits that look beautiful in hanging baskets.
Tribute Resistant to leaf scorch and verticillium wilt. Tart strawberries that suit baking and fresh consumption.
Everbearing Albion Small strawberries that resist anthracnose and crown rot. For both fresh consumption and processing.

3. Planting technique, spacing, and depth You can gauge the minimum soil depth for strawberries by sowing them. Ensure the roots are covered but the crown is slightly above-ground to minimize risks of disease. The planting spacing for strawberries will differ for June bearing vs everbearing strawberries and day-neutral types.

June-bearers should be 18 to 30 inches apart, while everbearing and day-neutral varieties only require 1 foot or 12 inches of distance between plants. At the same time, June-bearing or matted row strawberries should have rows that are 3 to 4 feet apart, but 2 feet will suffice for the hill planting system if you grow crops this way.

Other tips for successful gardening are:

  • Strawberries need an inch of water per week, and it’s best to irrigate them in the morning with drip lines to ensure maximum moisture absorption.
  • Protect your plants from winter temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit using old sheets or Reemay. We also recommend mulching the ground with three to four inches of straw when you grow strawberries in rows.

This will protect the roots and crown from freezing weather and stave off weeds.

Remove some of the mulch for strawberries in the spring when there’s new growth on the plants.

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