Wild strawberry is one common name for Fragaria vesca, a type of strawberry that produces smaller, sweeter, more elongated berries than the hybrid garden strawberry. These fruits have been consumed by humans since the stone age! Also known as alpine strawberry, woodland strawberry, European strawberry, or fraise des bois, plants are perennial and grow wild in large areas of the northern hemisphere. Leaves and fruit are used to make herbal teas, jams and jellies, sauces, and desserts. They’re also delicious added raw to salads, cereal, or eaten on their own.
The Red Wonder Wild Strawberry is grown from seed. Plants produce fruit into the summer and will only reach heights of 6–8″, making for a perfect border plant. Fruits do not store or ship well, so eat them ASAP after harvest. It’s a tough job, but we know you can do it!
Seed Depth: 1/8–1/4″
Space Between Plants: 30″
Space Between Rows: 36″
Germination Soil Temperature: Minimum 60°F
Days for Germination: 15–30
Sow Indoors: 12–16 weeks before last frost date.
Sow Outdoors: Not recommended.
Vegetative: Can be propagated by division or root cuttings. Plants will also self-propagate by producing aboveground runners. These horizontal stems will grow roots into any rich, moist soil they encounter. You can easily clone these new plants and make them mobile by placing pots of organic soil mix underneath the stem’s node where you want it to root.
Prefers cool, temperate climates, although they can continue to produce fruit through summer heat and into fall. They are generally a perennial in USDA Zones 4–8. Native to Europe, they’re adapted to moist alpine climates and need cool winters. Mature plants can survive winter frosts, but spring flowers need more protection. In warmer zones, it can be grown as a cool season annual.
Natural: Full sun. Prefers partial shade in warm weather and when young.
Artificial: Needs at least 14 hours of light per day.
Soil: Prefers well-drained loamy soil but are adaptable and will grow in most soils. A pH of between 5.8 and 6.5 will keep plants healthy and nourished.
Soilless: Seeds germinate best in a soilless mix.
Hydroponics: Will thrive in a variety of hydroponic systems. Try NFT or a media bed filled with clay pellets.
Aeroponics: Thrives in aeroponic systems.
Water: Requires moderate levels of water. Soil should be kept moist but take care not to overwater. Avoid getting plants’ leaves wet by using drip irrigation.
Nutrients: Requires high levels of nutrients, particularly phosphorus and potassium. Amend soil with plenty of compost before planting to provide organic matter. Feed established plants with liquid kelp every 2 weeks.
Foliar: Benefits from foliar feedings of liquid kelp or compost tea.
Pruning: Divide strawberry plants once every 3–4 years to keep plants from getting too crowded.
Deficiency(s): A potassium deficiency will result in darkening of the edges of older leaves, which will spread to areas between leaf veins and the leaf stem. Eventually leaves will die. An iron deficiency will result in yellowing between the veins of the leaves which can expand until entire leaves are almost white. A phosphorus deficiency will result in smaller, stunted plants with darker, dull green leaves.
Rotation: As a perennial, these strawberries will not be rotated with other crops. Avoid planting after potatoes or tomatoes.
Companions: Grows well with onions, lettuce, spinach, and bush beans. Avoid broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Harvest: Pick berries once they are fully ripe and deep red. Check plants daily during the peak of the growing season. If left on the plant for too long, berries will start to rot and can attract pests, so remove overripe strawberries once you notice them.
Storage: Will keep well in the refrigerator for 3–5 days. They have a much shorter storage life than the type found on grocery store shelves. Freeze whole strawberries for up to 2 months.
Fun Fact: Using fossilized fecal matter as a sign, it would appear that wild strawberries have both existed, and been eaten by man, since the Stone Age.
Preserve: Can be preserved and canned whole. Jellies and jams are also often made with the fruit. They can also be dehydrated, either in thin slices or after pureeing and cooking them to make a fruit leather. Freeze your extra berries to throw in a smoothie or pie later.
Prepare: These strawberries are considered to be sweeter than most garden varieties and will tempt you to eat them all straight off the plant. If they do make it into your kitchen, try using them in a pie recipe, pureeing them into a syrup to top ice cream or cheesecake, or adding into a smoothie.
Nutritional: Provides vitamin C, manganese, folate, iron, potassium, and iodine. Also a good source of antioxidants and dietary fiber.
Medicinal: Strawberries have been used for treating anemia, diabetes, gout, heart disease, and kidney or liver diseases, and for lowering cholesterol. Strawberries are also said to improve the appearance and health of your teeth. They are a potent source of phytochemicals and antioxidants which provide anti-cancer properties. Historically, they have even been thought of as an aphrodisiac.
Strawberry leaves have medicinal uses as well. Usually made into a tea, it can be used for treating pains and intestinal or urinary issues, and has antibacterial, anti-fungal and diuretic properties. The leaf is known as a blood purifier and is used for treating night sweats, menstrual issues, and to support weight loss.
Warnings: Some people are allergic to a protein found in strawberries, so take care, especially for young children trying strawberries for the first time.
Yum! Check out this Raw Strawberry Cheesecake recipe, and use your Red Wonder Wild Strawberries to make it even more delicious.