White strawberries are strawberries, but they get their name from their pineapple flavor. They have white flesh and red pips, just the opposite of normal strawberries.
White strawberries may be a new thing now, but they’re really nothing more than an improved version of the original South American strawberry, reintroduced to the market with an improved pineapple flavor.
For those who are wary of GMOs: neither the color nor the taste are the result of genetic modification. Fragaria chiloensis, the South American strawberry native to Chile, was always white with a slight hint of pink.
Fragaria chiloensis strawberries were one of the original ancestors of the garden strawberries we all know. They were crossed with the red strawberry species Fragaria virginiana, native to North America.
This is why strawberries from the garden are called Fragaria x ananassa. The term ananassa likely refers to the pineapple flavor of the original species; pineapple is called ananá in most parts of the world.
There are other white strawberries in cultivation, but these are versions of the alpine strawberry Fragaria vesca. Unlike pineapples, their seeds are usually white to light green, so you can tell them apart. They are also much smaller.
White strawberries now come from the original stock of Chilean strawberries still held by certain European breeders. The breeding program started about ten years ago and it took about four years to introduce this variety to the market.
When they were first introduced on April Fool’s Day 2010, they were well received, although at first most people thought it was a joke. However, despite public interest in these new varieties, they remain rare.
If you want to have white strawberries regularly, growing your own may be the answer. Planting material is available online and some nurseries may have stock. Stocks are generally limited.
If you can get your hands on some, they are worth growing, not just for their novelty value, but for their distinctly different flavor and aroma.
How to grow white strawberries.
If you have experience growing regular strawberries, growing white strawberries can be just as easy. However, getting the starts may not be. Many breeders offer designer plants, but there are mainly three varieties to look for: ‘White D’, ‘White Carolina’ and ‘White Pineberry’.
White D has larger berries than the other two, but they are still smaller than normal red strawberries. They are all more similar to alpine strawberries in their growth habits and also have their perennial nature.
White strawberries come at a high price at first, but you have no choice, as they may not come true from seed, as many gardeners have discovered to their disappointment. Maybe you can buy just 2 or 3 now, and increase your stock by division.
Make sure the plants you order are self-pollinating. Cross pollination with regular strawberries will not change the color or flavor of white strawberries and may actually increase fruit set.
The white strawberry sprouts you receive may be quite small and fragile. They are suitable for growing in areas protected from temperature extremes. Handle them with care. If you start with few plants, you can plant them in pots.
How to grow white strawberries in pots.
White strawberries can be grown in any container that can hold a liter of soil. They have a small root system, so a 10″ to 12″ deep pot would suffice.
Drainage is most important. Hanging bins and gutters can be used, as long as you can provide good drainage. You should be able to check the soil moisture. Although excess moisture can affect them, they need enough moisture in the soil at all times.
Use a good quality potting soil intended for strawberries to fill the containers. You can also create your own with:
- 10 parts of potting soil.
- 10 parts peat moss.
- 8 parts perlite.
- 4 parts compost.
- 1 dose of sand.
Mix everything well to obtain a homogeneous mixture. Check the pH of the soil.
Hanging pots can be planted very close, with 1 plant every 15 cm. Keep them in a place that gets 6 hours of direct sunlight or 8-10 hours of very bright indirect light. Water the plants before the soil dries out.
Feed with liquid compost starting in May to keep plants healthy throughout the growing season.
How to make a white strawberry orchard.
If you intend to have a white strawberry orchard, prepare the bed as you normally would for garden strawberries. Choose an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight, preferably in the morning. Yields can be higher in areas that receive sunlight for 8 hours or more, but these strawberries tend to take on a pinkish hue in bright light conditions. However, this does not detract from its flavor.
Avoid beds where you have previously grown nightshade family plants, such as peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. fungal spores Fusarium Yes Verticillium that affect these plants can remain dormant in the ground for up to four years and destroy your white strawberries. Keep a safe distance from mulberries and raspberries, which can transmit common pathogens to your strawberries.
Bed preparation is very important for these perennials because they will stay in one place for years. Add ammonium nitrate and a slow-release organic fertilizer to the soil as you prepare the beds.
Good drainage is also important. Amend the soil with plenty of organic matter and sand to improve drainage. If the soil is poor or waterlogged, consider growing them in raised beds instead of trying to amend the soil.
White strawberries need room to spread, but they don’t form as many runners as garden strawberries. You can plant them closer, one plant every 30 cm.
- Dig the bed twice and remove all weeds.
- Add a long-lasting organic fertilizer.
- Make small holes in the bed 30 cm apart.
- Place the shoots in the holes, making sure their crowns are level with the ground, not below.
- Secure them in place and tamp the soil around them.
- Water the plants well.
Ideally, plant the shoots in the spring, after the soil has warmed up a bit, but you need to protect them from possible late spring frosts. White strawberries planted in the spring may not begin to bear fruit until the following year. They may even take another year to reach maturity.
Fall planting can be considered if you can provide sufficient winter protection. In fact, many growers recommend it because plants establish a good root system before top growth begins. A good amount of mulch should be used to keep the root zone warm.
They will grow without too many problems if they are well watered and regularly fertilized. Give them a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium every 3-4 weeks starting in mid-spring to encourage flowering and fruit set. Remove weeds if necessary. Don’t let them choke out small plants. Check for pests and diseases and take appropriate action.
When the flowers start to appear, mulch around the plants to keep the developing fruits from touching the ground. Pick strawberries as they ripen; this increases production. Since strawberries are perennial, like alpine strawberries, you can have a long harvest season, from late spring to fall.
Reduce watering in late fall and stop fertilizing. This will harden the plants off for the winter. Cover the plants with a coarse mulch, but keep them lightly covered to prevent crown rot.