Strawberries can be grown anywhere in South Carolina. They are the first fruit to ripen in the spring, and no other small fruit produces berries as quickly after planting as strawberries. In proportion to the plant size, strawberries are very productive. Twenty-five plants and their runners may produce up to 25 quarts of fruit during one season.
Strawberry growth is greatly affected by temperature and day length. In new plantings, runner production occurs during the long days and warm temperatures of summer. In the short, cool days of fall, runner production stops, and flower buds form within the plant crown. The crown is essentially a compressed stem and gives rise to leaves, runners, and roots. The flower clusters developing in the fall, inside the upper portion of the strawberry crown, emerge in the early spring. Harvestable, ripe berries are available four weeks after the first flowers open. Toward the end of the harvest period, when the days are long and warm, plants again grow runners, which produces new plants.
The performance of strawberry varieties is affected by climate and soil type. Therefore, it is essential to use the plant varieties best suited to each part of the State. More adventurous gardeners may wish to experiment with newer strawberry varieties from other regions. Keep in mind that it is rare for a variety bred for the Mid-Atlantic, New England, or Canada is suitable for South Carolina. However, ‘Earliglow’ is an unusual strawberry because of its broad adaptation throughout the northern United States, from Virginia, Western North Carolina and the Piedmont region to the upper parts of South Carolina. ‘Earliglow’ is also resistant to red stele. Since there are no effective chemical controls available to the home gardener to control this root disease, planting a variety resistant to red stele is the most effective means of management.
June-Bearing Type: June-bearing strawberries are the primary type suited for South Carolina. The name June-bearing is somewhat confusing since these varieties bear most of their crop in April and May. They produce a single crop in the spring, and flower production ceases as temperatures increase.
The June-bearing types are most suited to the Coastal and Central regions of South Carolina. June-bearing types work very well treated as an annual crop and grown utilizing the annual hill system.
For more information on growing strawberries on the annual hill system, please refer to HGIC 1405, Growing Strawberries.
Everbearing Type: There are ‘everbearing’ or ‘day-neutral’ types, both of which produce a crop during the spring, and another in late summer, and additional fruit until frost in the fall. All of the everbearing strawberries advertised in nursery catalogs originated in the northern states; therefore, they succeed best in those areas and are very poorly adapted to the mid-South. A few of the newest ‘day-neutral’ types of strawberries, such as ‘Albion’ or ‘Monterrey’ can be grown in the higher elevations of western South Carolina for a spring and fall crop of berries. The everbearing types or day-neutral types are most suited to the Upstate region and are best avoided in the Coastal and Central regions. In these areas, the plants can become heavily infected with anthracnose leading to crown rots.
Strawberries as Annual Crops?
Some home gardeners are following the example of commercial growers who treat strawberries as annuals. Small strawberry plants called plugs are installed in early fall. They are not allowed to make offsets. After harvest in May, the plants are removed, and a new planting is made the following fall. The benefits include healthier plants, fewer weeds, and bigger fruit.
Ornamental strawberry types suitable for full sun or light shade include selections with white and green leaves grown mainly as ground covers since they do not fruit well. ‘Pink Panda’, a hybrid between a strawberry and a potentilla, has typical strawberry foliage and an occasional tasty berry, but this ornamental is grown primarily for the inch-wide pink flowers it bears from spring through fall.
Strawberries are subject to many diseases: fruit rots (gray mold, anthracnose), leaf diseases (leaf spot, leaf scorch, leaf blight), crown diseases (anthracnose), root diseases (red stele, black rot), and viruses. Root weevils, aphids, mites, slugs, and snails are among the most troublesome pests. To help reduce problems, plant only certified disease-free plants. Also, remove diseased foliage, as well as ripe or rotten fruit. Replace plants with new ones as they begin to decline, usually after three years.
For more information on how to grow strawberries, including their diseases and pests, refer to HGIC 1405, Growing Strawberries.
South Carolina Gardening Regions
Gardening regions of South Carolina
Piedmont Counties: Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenwood, Greenville, Lancaster, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union, and York.
Central Counties: Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Darlington, Dillon Florence, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro Orangeburg, Richland, and Sumter.
Coastal Counties: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, and Williamsburg.
Recommended June-bearing Strawberry Varieties for South Carolina
|Sweet Charlie||Ce, Co||Early|
|1Adapted areas designations: P – Piedmont; Ce – Central ; Co – Coastal; ALL – adapted to all areas.
2Resisistant to red stele (Phytophthora fragariae.)
3Commercial variety grown as an annual using the “Annual Hill System.”
Suggested Ever-bearing Strawberry Varieties for South Carolina
|1Adapted areas designations: P – Piedmont; Ce – Central ;
Co – Coastal; ALL – adapted to all areas.
For more information on growing strawberries, please refer to HGIC 1405, Growing Strawberries.
Originally published 06/99