When you think of the word ‘strawberry,’ you immediately see a luscious red fruit in your mind’s eye. In fact, the phrases ‘strawberry-hued’ and ‘strawberry-colored’ depict rusty pink or bright red colors. Strawberry blonde means red-gold hair. A strawberry roan is a horse with pink flecks and speckles on his skin. For a long time, strawberries have been almost synonymous with red and pink.
But are all strawberries red or pink in color?
You will be surprised that they are not. In fact, there is a number of species of white strawberries that are stunning to look at and delightful to your taste buds. These strawberries are a sight to behold: creamy white skin, dark brown seeds, and wholesome round shapes. When put in your mouth, they explode in sweetness just like your usual red strawberries do.
The exciting part is that you can start growing your own white strawberries at home! No, these strawberries aren’t exotic and not all of them are hybrids. If you are interested in growing white strawberries, then you have come to the right place. This guide is your blueprint for spicing up your garden with rare-looking (but very easy-to-grow) white strawberries.
But first, more information on white strawberries.
What Is the Difference Between Red and White Strawberries?
Strawberry plants are categorized into the rose family, Rosaceae. Both red and white strawberries are of the species Fragaria.
So what makes some strawberries of this species red and others white?
The main difference is the presence of a protein called Fra a1. Actually, this protein is present only in the ripening process. This explains why even red strawberries are white before they ripen. In the case of white strawberries, Fra a1 is never present. So although these delicate and delicious berries turn sweet and soft as they ripen, they do not turn red.
Are there Many Kinds of White Strawberries?
It is interesting to note that just like there are many kinds of apples, melons, and red strawberries, there is more than one type of white strawberry. In fact, white strawberries can be classified into many different species and categories! Here is a list of some of the most common of them.
- The White Alpine Strawberries. These strawberries are of the species Fragaria Vesca. They include a number of varieties including the Pineapple Crush, which has a hint of citrus in it, and the White Soul, which is luscious, soft and sweet.
- The White Beach Strawberries. These strawberries are known as beach strawberries because they are usually found along coastal areas. They are of the species Fragaria Chiloensis, and play a huge part in the cross-breeding that resulted in the luscious red strawberries we are used to seeing in the market today.
- White Pine Berries. These white strawberries are a hybrid form of the strawberry. Their taste is slightly different from most strawberries, including a hint of pineapple and caramel. These strawberries are hybrids, and are of the species Fragaria x Ananassa.
Can You Grow White Strawberries at Home?
Having read this bit of information on white strawberries, you might already be envisioning rare-looking and exotic fruit in your mind’s eye. But the exciting news is that you can easily grow these strawberries in your own backyard!
Tips on Growing White Strawberries at Home
So you have decided to grow your own beautiful white strawberries. Congratulations! You are now going to have a garden that stands out from every other garden in your neighborhood. So let’s get started.
How to Grow White Strawberries from Seeds
Growing white strawberries from seeds is the most fulfilling way to start. (You can also grow them from seedlings.) There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that you have nurtured healthy bearing plants from scratch. So here’s what you need to do to get started.
Take a paper towel and dampen it with water. Remember not to make the towel soggy. Take your white strawberry seeds (you can buy them online or scrape them off white strawberries that you already have) and sprinkle them all over the damp towel. Put them in a plastic bag and wait. After a few days, you will notice the seeds beginning to sprout. When they grow as many as two leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into a pot or onto your outdoor garden.
How to Transplant White Strawberry Plants
Once your white strawberry plants have sprung from their seeds, it is time to transplant them. You now need to decide if you want your plants indoors or outside in your yard.
If you want to pop your rare-looking plants on your windowsill, then there are a number of tips to keep in mind. First, choose a pot that is around 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep. Make sure to place your potted plants in the sunshine for at least 6 hours a day. However, these plants also need darkness for around 8 hours so they can rest. Moving your pots around as the seasons change is a good idea if you want to keep them healthy.
On the other hand, if you want to have an outdoor garden thriving with beautiful green plants and pretty white fruit, then you should take your newly-sprouted seeds outside. You can either plant them in pots or put them into the ground. Since white strawberry plants don’t send out runners (as red strawberry plants do), you can allot a specific spot for them and rest assured that they will stay put.
How to Take Care of White Strawberry Plants
As your plants grow, you will no doubt feel exhilarated. When the first flowers come out, you will be over the moon with excitement! But you should always remember to give your plants the proper care they need to survive. Here are three things to take note of.
- Watering your plants. White strawberry plants need just the right amount of water to grow strong and healthy. But too much water will make them rot or develop mold growth – these plants are not the type to stand in water. The best way to know when your plants need water, then, is to test the dryness of the ground around them. Simply bury your finger about 2 inches into the soil. If the soil feels dry and cake-y, then you need to water the plants. White strawberries need to be watered around 2-3 times a week, but keeping track of the dryness of the ground will help you determine how often you need to water them depending on the weather and the season.
- Fertilizing your plants. For healthier white strawberry plants, you can add organic fertilizers to the ground. You can add rich soil with a mixture of manure in it. You can also use liquid organic fertilizers high in potassium. If you can’t find fertilizers made specifically for strawberries in your area, you can use a tomato plant fertilizer instead.
- Protecting your plants. As an avid gardener, you know that there are types of plants that just don’t go well together. For white strawberry plants, keep these varieties away: cabbage, kale, and broccoli.
How to Harvest White Strawberries
As your plants bloom and grow, you will start to notice flowers opening up. Soon enough, these flowers will turn into luscious fruit.
But since white strawberries don’t change color, how can you tell when they are ripe?
If you are new to growing white strawberries, this might not be easy at the outset. But taking note of your strawberries from the moment they turn from flower to fruit will help. For instance, white strawberries which are unripe usually have green seeds. As they ripen, their seeds turn a deep shade of brown.
Pressing the berries will also help you determine their texture. While unripe berries are hard to the touch, ripe ones are softer and feel rounder. Also, ripe strawberries fall off their stems more easily than unripe ones do. Simply pushing gently against a berry will remove it from its stem if it is ready for harvesting.
If you still aren’t sure whether or not your white strawberries are ripe, simply pick one off its stem and try it! There is nothing as exciting as a little taste test for the gardener inside of you.
How to Overwinter White Strawberry Plants
When the first frost arrives, you can just leave your strawberry plants in the ground. They are likely to survive and start blooming again as warmer weather takes over. However, if you want to give them a little help, then you can mulch them.
The process is simple: all you need is a bit of clean hay. Completely bury your strawberry plants in this hay and keep them that way throughout the cold season. When warmer weather returns, remove the hay and watch your plants spring to life again!
How to Enjoy White Strawberries
One disadvantage of white strawberries is that they aren’t as bountiful as red strawberries. Even if you fertilize your plants regularly, you will never see more than a few berries at a time.
So how can you fully enjoy your white strawberries besides the random times you pluck one from its stem and pop it into your mouth?
You can freeze the berries and let them accumulate.
Start by harvesting the berries that are already ripe. Pop these berries into the fridge for about an hour to make them firmer. Then, place them on a plate and put them into the freezer. When they are fully frozen, it is time to seal them into bags.
Do this until you have a sustainable amount of white strawberries. Since these berries can be kept for months when frozen, it is not a surprise if you have more than enough of them at the end of summer.
Here’s how you can enjoy your white strawberries even more:
- Make them into a jam. Do you want to surprise and impress your dinner guests when you bring out a pot of white jam and announce that it is organic strawberry jam? They will not believe you until they dip their spoons into the jar and find out that indeed, the creamy white mass has the subtle, fruity, unforgettable taste of strawberries!
- Use them as a garnish for desserts. Some white strawberries have pinkish or yellowish hues. They will look gorgeous on top of a slice of cheese cake or an ice cream dish.
- Eat them raw. If you simply like the taste of fresh fruit, simply unfreeze a bag of your strawberries and serve them for breakfast or as a treat to your family after dinner.
There are many ways to enjoy white strawberries, as their flavor and unique color go together to give you something out-of-the ordinary.
And so now you are ready for the exciting experience of growing white strawberries. But here is a little more information to get you even more excited.
The Benefits of Growing White Strawberries
- White strawberries produce fruit the whole season long. All throughout the summer, your plants will produce crop after crop of these creamy and delicious fruit. They will not stop until the first frost arrives. This gives you enough time to collect a lot of berries to store in your freezer. As soon as the warmer weather comes back, your white strawberry plants will be ready to bear you even more fruit.
- White strawberries don’t attract birds. Have you ever waited expectantly for red strawberries to ripen just to find out that the birds beat you to the harvest? Birds are aware of the changing colors of fruit, and the moment strawberries turn red, they are the first to visit the plot. But white strawberries confuse them. They never seem to turn ripe, so you are always the first to know when it is time to harvest them.
- White strawberries are not invasive. They don’t take up a lot of ground. Even if you only have a little space in your yard, you can still produce lovely healthy plants that bear sweet, creamy, delightful berries.
As an avid gardener, you might be exploring ways to add a touch of something different to your garden. If so, why not try growing white strawberries?