When it comes to growing a variety of fruit plants, you are likely going to struggle to have enough room to grow everything you want to. So, if you have a limited amount of space where you can plant, you might hope that you can plant some of your smaller bushes underneath fruit trees, but is this possible?
Strawberries can be planted and grown under fruit trees. As long as they are watered, the strawberries will grow and produce fruit as they normally do. Even though the strawberries will be under a tree, there isn’t a need to water the plants more than normal.
But, how does having strawberry bushes underneath trees affect the yield that you are going to be able to get when you are finally able to pick the strawberries? Throughout the rest of this article, I will cover how well strawberries grow in shade, what happens to the trees when there are plants underneath, and what the best conditions to grow strawberries are.
Impact Yield of Growing Strawberries in the Shade
When it comes to planting strawberries at the base of a tree, first you are going to want to remember that strawberries mainly need 3 different things to survive and grow. These three things are: plenty of sunlight, water each day, and nutrient-rich soil.
Even if you plant strawberries, fruit, or even vegetables at the base of a fruit tree, you will be able to see some grow and still get a harvest. So, when it comes time to plant your strawberries, you will want to determine which side of the fruit tree gets the most light during the day. Once you have done this, plant the strawberry seeds, starters, or plants on that side of the tree so they will be able to get plenty of sunlight throughout the day and be able to grow.
Next, as you are planting your strawberries, you are going to want to make sure that the ground you are planting them in has plenty of nutrients, as both the fruit trees and strawberries will need nutrients. To do this, make sure that the ground where you are planting the bushes is made up of dirt instead of bark, mulch, or other ground coverings like these.
You should water your strawberries daily unless they are showing signs of overwatering. Fortunately, you aren’t going to need double the water for both the plants and tree, as the two plants will share the water and both will get enough. The only time you will need to overwater the plants is if there is a heat wave.
When it comes time to harvest your strawberries, you will quickly find that there is no difference between a strawberry plant that was grown underneath a tree and a strawberry bush that is grown openly. Expect to get 1 quart of strawberries per bush when you harvest them around June.
Effects of Having Plants Under Fruit Trees
So, you know that you at least are going to be able to get your strawberries from the plants that are growing at the base of the tree, but will you still be getting a harvest from the tree itself? When it comes down to it, you will still be able to get a harvest from the tree, however, the fruit might come later, and the total amount of fruit to harvest will likely be smaller.
This is because when the tree is growing, it needs lots of nutrients to grow its roots and lots of water to get more energy to form the fruit, and when there are other plants near it, even plants like grass, the tree is then having to compete for both nutrients and water. And when comparing the amount of nutrients a tree needs to that of strawberry plants, you can see why the strawberries grow fine, while the tree might struggle with fewer nutrients.
However, as stated, you still are going to be getting fruit from the tree, so don’t move your strawberries yet. According to a study by Utah State University, it was found that even when a fruit tree is competing for nutrients, it still is able to grow plenty of fruit. They found that vegetation near the tree will delay the onset of fruit from the tree and also limit the total amount you are able to harvest.
To get the ideal harvest from the tree, it was recommended that you have a 2 to 3-foot radius around the tree without any vegetation. However, the trees still will grow and produce fruit with plants at their base.
Best Conditions to Grow Strawberries In
Strawberries grow best in areas that receive full sunlight during a large portion of the day. They can grow well on flat ground, in raised garden beds, or even on a gradual slope! When the soil is moist, rich in organic matter, and deep, the strawberries are able to truly thrive.
However, the soil cannot be over-moist, as this will cause issues. For this reason, it is best that the soil is well-draining and is not located in a place that does not remain overly wet for too long after winter and into the spring months of the year.
While many people do plant their gardens in the same place year-round, there are some regulations that should be observed while planting strawberries. Other plants such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and even several types of peppers are known to drain the soil of many vital nutrients. While this benefits the aforementioned plants greatly in their growth, it may mean that planting strawberries in soil that was previously used for these plants may not be best. However, the soil is likely to have regained many of these nutrients after being unused by these plants for around 4 years.
Be sure to research different types of strawberry plants, as there are 6 different species, and some have higher success rates growing in differing environments. Placing the plants about 18 inches apart from each other will help them avoid overcrowding one another and stifling growth.