FRAGARIA 'Fort Laramie'
Plant Common Name
Fort Laramie Strawberry, Strawberry
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Whether dainty wild woodland fruits or juicy cultivated jewels, strawberries are a favorite fruit worldwide. There are approximately 20 species in the genus Fragaria, a member of the rose family. Most are native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere and range as far south as India and South America.
Most species are herbaceous perennials that spread via stolons (rooting above ground stems) and have three or five parted coarsely toothed green leaves. Their pretty white flowers are five-petaled. Some strawberry species bear male and female flowers on separate plants, making them dioecious, but most have perfect flowers with both male and female parts. Bees pollinate strawberry flowers and can be very important for fruit production, though many modern cultivars are self-fertile. Strawberry fruits are big, red fleshy and conical. The fleshy part that’s eaten is actually the swollen floral base, called the receptacle. The the true fruits are actually the tiny seeds embedded along the red surface.
All strawberries prefer cooler weather and are sometimes grown as winter annuals in sub-tropical and tropical regions. Flowers and fruits are produced at different times in the growing season depending on the species or cultivated variety. There are two general types, spring bearing and everbearing. Spring producers are known as short-day, or June bearing, and require short days and cool temperatures for fruit production. Everbearing types bear a heavy crop in spring and then continue to produce occasional fruit until temperatures become oppressively hot. Some everbearing types require long days for good flowering and fruiting, while others produce bloom and fruit all year regardless of day length.
These are easy to grow fruits. They prefer full to partial sun and friable, acid to neutral soils with good drainage. Woodland strawberries will tolerate shadier conditions. Cool summer temperatures are ideal, though some cultivars are bred to tolerate hotter temperatures. After three years, strawberry plants reduce fruit production and must be replaced. The easiest thing to do is to gather and replant peripheral runners from the parent plant. These should be planted in raised beds, mounds or containers for easy harvest. It is common to mulch strawberries with straw to keep the fruit clean and suppress weeds. Provide nutrients and water regularly for good fruit production.
Pests can be a problem for strawberries. Buy clean, disease-free plants, rotate the planting area or provide fresh soil in containers to reduce disease, insect pests and nematodes and plant strawberries just at the soil surface to avoid crown rot. Choose varieties adapted to the area for pest resistance, environmental tolerance and good growth.
Strawberries have been grown for centuries. The Greeks and the Romans where reported to gather woodland or alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) as were the Russians. The Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) is native to Eastern North America and was eaten by Native Americans. Its small red fruits are very sweet and borne only on the female plants. The large red fruits of the beach strawberry ( Fragaria chiloensis), from the western coastal regions of the Americas, were also enjoyed by native tribe’s people. Modern garden strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) are hybrids between the Virginia strawberry (F. virginiana) and the coastal strawberry (F. chiloensis).
Strawberries are moderately ornamental and the right size for the edible home garden. There is nothing like fresh homemade strawberry jam on hot biscuits to encourage every gardener to grow a few.