You might be wondering, is it possible to grow strawberries in zone 9 where the climate is warmer?
As a rule, strawberries are best grown in colder zones where they can grow to their full potential. However, USDA zone 9 gardeners can still try their hand in producing sweet and juicy strawberries by treating them as annuals and choosing hot weather strawberry cultivars.
Do Strawberries Grow Well in Zone 9?
It’s certainly possible to grow strawberries in zone 9, particularly in California and Florida. You may, however, experience difficulty if you’re in the southwest USA as these plants need regular watering.
Zone 9 strawberries include Ventana, Albion and Camarosa for California, and Strawberry Festival and Sweet Charlie for Florida. In Texas, you can choose between Sequoia and Chandler, and both are likely to thrive.
The trick to growing strawberries in zone 9 is to first get the right species, then choosing the best spot that meets their requirements. Also, you should treat them as annuals instead of perennials, with tighter spacing to conserve moisture and to keep them relatively cool.
Strawberry plants are generally divided into three categories- everbearing, day neutral and short neutral.
Everbearing strawberries will continue producing fruits as long as its conditions are optimal for growth. Day neutral plants are a modern cultivar that can produce up to three harvests in a growing season. Short day variants only produce one crop but it’s a significantly bigger harvest compared to everbearing and day neutrals.
When Should You Plant Strawberries in Zone 9?
Strawberries in zone 9 should be planted anywhere from December to February. They’re best planted on raised beds that are 12 to 18 inches high, and set around 10 to 12 inches apart and about two feet in-between rows.
Keeping an eye on your strawberry plant’s moisture levels is key to having them survive and grow. Zone 9 gardeners should ensure that the well-draining soil is constantly moist. On hotter days and during summer you can water them every day.
The Best Zone 9 Strawberries You Can Plant
Sequoia strawberries are considered everbearing in USDA zone 9 and produce large berries with exceptionally sweet flavor. They’re relatively easier to grow than other strawberry species because they’re not as affected by powdery mildew.
Sequoia makes for an excellent strawberry plant in Florida and California, and one of two that’s proven to grow in Texas.
Hecker is a good choice for those who want to see the fruits of their labor sooner rather than later. It’s a day neutral plant that can produce multiple crops within a single growing season and fill your pantry with gorgeous, medium-sized and dark-colored fruits.
You can plant them in raised beds or as ground cover, as well as in borders in landscapes. Make sure that the soil doesn’t retain water that much and that the bed has several drain holes to keep the plant from being waterlogged and susceptible to root rot.
One of the most common berry types in southern California, Camarosa is relatively easy to grow and gives back in bushels.
It’s a known big-yielder as long as its growing requirements are met. This strawberry cultivar is hardy in zones 5 through 8, but in zone 9 you’ll have to ensure it gets minimal sun exposure.
It’s worth noting that Camarosa is a low-chill strawberry and only requires a minimum of 45 degrees F to start producing fruit. Berries form early in the season and have a somewhat sweet and tangy flavor.
Tioga plants have the same low-chill characteristics of Camarose, plus they are a vigorous and fast-growing variety. With that robust expansion the only thing you’ll need to watch out for is leaf spot and regular watering on hotter days.
Chandler strawberry plants produce giant-sized berries that are firm and form early during the growing season. What’s unusual about the fruits is that they take on different shapes, with some being a wedge and others conical.
The fruits you get from Chandler can be used in pies, preserves or eaten fresh.
Sweet Charlie strawberries are popular in Florida and are of the short day variety. Supplemental watering is required, and soon you’ll see small and compact strawberries that are exceptionally sweet. It’s great for home gardens and can be picked and eaten fresh once the tip of the fruit has reddened.