The 13 Most Likely Reasons Your Strawberries Never Grew This Summer

Written by Jennifer Hollohan
Updated: September 9, 2023
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One of the best parts of summer is fresh, ripe fruit, like strawberries. So, many of us choose to add this plant to our garden in the hopes of getting a bountiful harvest. Unfortunately, sometimes strawberry plants don’t produce any fruit. While that can get frustrating, an important factor usually causes the lack of berries. We want to help you have a bumper crop next year. So below, you will find the thirteen most likely reasons your strawberries didn’t grow this year. 

1. Choosing the Wrong Variety

Unfortunately, not all strawberry plants are created equal. There are over 100 strawberry species and roughly 500 cultivars. But even though there are over 600 varieties to choose from, not all grow equally well in every climate. Most cultivars were bred to thrive in specific growing conditions. So, what works in Massachusetts won’t necessarily work in New Mexico. That unique variety you found online may be eye-catching. However, if you plant it in your garden to no avail, it may be ill-suited for your climate. The best way to find which strawberries grow in your region is to contact your local extension office or speak to a nursery. They will help you select one that will produce fruit!

Ripe organic strawberry bush in the garden close up. Growing a crop of natural strawberries

Even though there are over 600 varieties to choose from, not all grow equally well in every climate: they thrive in specific growing conditions.

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2. Location

Some plants grow well anywhere you plant them. Strawberries are not one of those. They require certain growing conditions to thrive and produce fruit. You can grow this tasty fruit in a raised bed or container with high-quality and nutrient-rich soil. Additionally, they require at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, preferably more. If you plant them in an area with too much shade or poor-quality soil, there will be little to no fruit production.

Flowering strawberry plants in terracotta pot

Strawberries require certain growing conditions to thrive and produce fruit.

©Menno van der Haven/

3. Poor Companion Planting

Usually, conversations around companion planting entail pairing plants together to optimize growth. But there is another side to companion planting. Sometimes, some plant pairs can stunt each other’s growth. Nightshades like eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes are poor companion plants for strawberries. Additionally, avoid planting mint, melon, roses, or okra in the same bed as your strawberry plants.

Green strawberry field with blue sky and clouds on the horizon.

Sometimes, some plant pairs can stunt each other’s growth.

©DR pics/

4. Soil Issues

Strawberries like well-draining soil rich in organic matter. They also prefer soil with a more neutral pH. If you are concerned about the quality of your soil, consider getting it tested before the start of the next growing season. Most extension offices offer this service. The results will tell you what specific amendments are needed (if any). 

Farmer holding soil in hands close-up. Farmers' experts check soil conditions before planting seeds or seedlings. Business idea or ecology environmental concept

Strawberry plants require high-quality, nutrient-rich soil.

©Sakorn Sukkasemsakorn/iStock via Getty Images

5. Transplant Shock

Most of us buy strawberry starts from the store to get a jump on harvest season. They are typically kept in a slightly shaded spot or indoors and protected from the elements. If you don’t harden them off properly before transplanting them, they experience transplant shock. The best-case scenario is that the strawberry takes a long time to recover and produces little or no fruit. And the worst-case scenario is that you kill the plant completely. 

Young elsanta garden strawberry plant (Fragaria) in plastic flowerpot ready to be transplanted to garden

If you don’t harden strawberry plants off properly before transplanting them, they experience transplant shock.


6. Improper Watering

Unlike many plants in your garden, strawberries have shallow root systems. So, that deep watering you do once or twice a week may not be enough. Since the roots sit shallowly in the soil, they pull water in from only the top few inches rather than deeper down. During hotter times of the year, those areas dry out the quickest. Watering more frequently during heat spells may help your plants produce abundant fruit.

But don’t try and overcompensate by watering too much. When strawberry plants sit in excessively wet conditions for long periods of time, their roots will get damaged. At first, this will result in little to no fruit. After a while, soggy soil may kill your plant.

man with water hose watering the grass

Strawberry plants require consistent watering but will suffer if the the soil is waterlogged.


7. Planting Too Deeply

Since strawberry plants have shallow roots, they will suffer when planted too deeply. New shoots and strawberries develop from the crown. So, if you bury the crow too deeply in the soil during transplant, it cannot grow easily. Additionally, when planting depth isn’t considered, the crown can get exposed to excessive moisture and rot like roots do. Only place the crown roughly an inch deep to ensure a proper harvest and the best growth.

Plant Bush Of Strawberry With Runners Sprout Of New Small Young Strawberry Plant For Propagation In Garden In Summer.

Planting your strawberry plants at the appropriate depth will ensure the runners have plenty of room to grow.

©Elena Masiutkina/

8. Failure to Pinch of Early Flowers

It is exciting when those first strawberry flowers arrive! After all, they signify the start of berry season. However, if the plant is not very large when those first blossoms arrive, it could spell trouble. Leaving the flowers on, as tempting as it may be, will signal to the plant that it is time to stop growing. And when you have smaller strawberry plants, the harvest will be drastically reduced. So pinch off the first few flowers to ensure your favorite fruit has enough space to grow.

Red and green strawberry berries with white flowers in wild meadow, close up. Wild strawberries bush in forest, macro, closeup

Pinch off the first few flowers to ensure your favorite fruit has enough space to grow.


9. Pest Pressure

Strawberry plants are not immune to pest pressure, unfortunately. Several may set their eyes on your tasty fruit, including spittlebugs, slugs, strawberry bud weevils, and strawberry sap bugs. Watch your plants closely for signs of insect infestation. You can remove the larger pests easily by picking them off and dropping them in soapy water to kill them. Then, consider spraying insecticidal soap or neem oil on your plants to kill larvae and prevent future issues.

The other thing to consider is that, though they are not pests, small mammals and birds may be picking off your strawberries before you even know they are there. That will make it appear like your plant is not producing fruit. If you suspect you may have this issue, add some netting over the top of your plants to protect them.

Strawberry planter on a backyard patio. Bright blue sky background.

Watch your plants closely for signs of insect infestation.

©Dawn Balaban/

10. Disease Pressure

One of the most common diseases that impacts strawberry plants is root rot. They develop this problem when the soil they get planted in (ground or container) is too consistently moist. Let the top inch of soil dry out before watering to help prevent this. 

Powdery mildew and fusarium wilt are other diseases that may strike your plants. One of the ways you can try to avoid these in the first place is to bottom water first thing in the morning. Doing so will help prevent the leaves from getting too et, or splashback from the soil, potentially infecting the plant. But if you notice signs of either issue, promptly cut off the diseased portion. Quick action may help prevent further spread.

Strawberry plants with lots of ripe red strawberries in a balcony railing planter, apartment or urban gardening concept.

Diseases can strike strawberries just like they do with any other plant. Keep a close eye on your plants to stop any disease in their tracks.


11. Too Much Fertilizer

Most online gardening advice tells new gardeners to add fertilizer. While this isn’t a bad thing, too much fertilizer or the wrong kind of fertilizer will harm your plants rather than help them. As long as you amend your soil with plenty of organic matter before planting season, you can go a little easier on the fertilizer during the growing season. When you add fertilizer, look for one with a lighter nitrogen ratio. Too much nitrogen in the soil will encourage strawberry plants to put extra energy into the foliage, leaving little energy to produce flowers and fruit.

Fertilizing the garden by bio granular fertilizer for better conditions of garden

When you add fertilizer, look for one with a lighter nitrogen ratio.

©Simon Kadula/

12. Temperature

One of the reasons strawberries struggle, even in their peak season, is because the temperature is wrong. They require warmer (but not hot) days and slightly cooler nights to produce fruit. When the daytime temperatures rise too much, the plants will struggle and won’t develop the necessary blossoms. However, the opposite problem is also true. If the weather gets too cold, the flowers may drop off or get damaged. Finding that sweet spot for strawberry harvests can be challenging. The best bet is to watch your weather closely and provide adequate protection against excess cold or heat.

Heatwave hot sun. Climate Change. Global Warming. Thermometer high temperatures.

Strawberries don’t do well when it is too hot or too cold out.

©Ed Connor/

13. Plant’s Age

Most berries take at least a season to get established, and strawberries are no exception. Young strawberry plants are primarily focused on developing during the first year or two of their lives. So, you will likely get little fruit during this window. If you have troubleshot every other possible issue, it could be that your strawberry plant is young. You will likely get a bumper crop the following year if you have taken proper care of your plant!

Strawberry runner plant in mulch

As strawberries age, they start to produce more fruit.

©4028mdk09 / CC BY-SA – License

1Choosing the Wrong Variety
3Poor Companion Planting
4Soil Issues
5Transplant Shock
6Improper Watering
7Planting Too Deeply
8Failure to Pinch Off Early Flowers
9Pest Pressure
10Disease Pressure
11Too Much Fertilizer
13Plant’s Age

The photo featured at the top of this post is © MarcoFood/

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About the Author

Jennifer Hollohan is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. Jennifer has over twenty years of writing experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which she earned in 2005, and is a Herbalist. Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family. She loves hiking, admiring wildflowers, gardening, and making herbal tea.

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