How To Grow Pineberries

By

November 1, 2013

Perhaps the best way to get started here is going about getting real pineberry starts. Don’t get taken for a ride by people selling Pineberry seed. Better yet, ignore the black and blue strawberry seeds! The images are photoshopped on the later, and you can’t get pineberry plants from seed.

No, this isn’t a cross between a pineapple and a strawberry, nor is it genetically modified. A pineberry is known in nomenclature as, Fragaria x ananassa. It is a traditionally created cross between two distinctly different types of strawberries a.k.a. a hybrid, which will never reproduce true from seed. Perhaps on a rare occasion, but don’t ever count on it. Growing pineberries from seed will give you an assorted lot. The majority of your seedlings will be U.S. native Fragaria  virginiana, and the Chilean strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis.

White Alpine Strawberry - Not a PineberryThe fruit in that image to the left are white alpine strawberries, Frageria  vesca var. albocarpa, but these aren’t pineberries. Note the white seeds? They are also much smaller fruits and look to be about the size of a dime when ripe. The variety known as “Anablanca” falls into the F. vesca type. One perk for this white berry-bearing type is it will produce fruit in partial sun outdoors, meaning that you can get a harvest with less than full sun power in your grow lights. But, as with all crops grown indoors, the stronger your light, the heavier your harvest will be.

True pineberry fruits are larger – about the size of a U.S. quarter, but there are 3 different pineberry varieties. The one known as “White D” has a bit larger fruit than the other 2 named varieties; “White”, and “White Carolina”. You can get pineberry plants from mail order seed houses in both the UK and US. Stock is generally available for fall shipping, so right now is the perfect time to secure your initial mother plants. Because these are still a novelty to the gardening world, you might think the price for 3 bare-root starter plants ridiculous. Part of this has to do with its novelty, and the price isn’t that bad considering you will be able to start new plants by the boatload once your first crop begins shooting out runners. In fact, unless you commit some unpardonable grower’s sin in the eyes of these rugged plants – you’ll never have to shell out another penny for successive pineberry crop harvests. So, it’s really a very inexpensive investment in fresh deliciousness for many years to come.

How to Grow Pineberries

Pineberries are everbearing strawberries. This means that you will have an almost continual supply of fruit. However, it’s been noted that they will stop bearing if the heat index soars. If you’re going to grow them outdoors, it’s something to be aware of, as is the need to mulch the crowns with straw or grass clippings for winter to protect them from excessive temperatures.

Exciting New PineberriesIndoors you can use traditional container growing methods, but do be sure you have good drainage as strawberry plants are notorious for root and crown rot in conditions that are too wet. If you discover belatedly that you’ve erred in gauging the potting mix’s drainage capacities, you might still be able to save the crop. One time I ordered strawberry starts and they arrive long before it was safe to plant outdoors. Then they got forgotten in the back of the refrigerator, and by the time I found them they were rotting and growing mold. I decided to plant them anyway… the worst that could happen was absolutely nothing. Guess what – they grew. Amazingly, even the biggest mistakes are sometimes correctable.

You can use hydroponic and aeroponic methods to grow strawberries, so pineberries are the perfect crop for a tower or vertical garden. They are low growing plants whose fruit hangs down, making them a great choice for growing overhead too.

They will prefer cooler grow room temps, so keep the environment at about 70 degrees. You want your pH at 6.0-6.5 and an EC of 2-3 ms. Give the plants 5-6″ spacing – they don’t do well crowded. They need 10-12 hours of daylight and low humidity. Runners root best right after fruiting.

Where To Buy Pineberry Plants

US

UK

If you miss out on your shopping season, most of these places will have new stock for spring. You can place your order in mid-winter to secure your pineberry plants before they sell out again. Finding them in huge supply won’t be possible for years, and the price they command in the markets will remain high for a pint of the berries.

They aren’t rare. They are just in short supply still.

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton

26 Comments

  • thanks for this, i actually bought black strawberry seeds from ebay for $8. pretty expensive for 10 seeds. Wont be doing that again

    • Hi Samantha,

      Shame on them! Never buy plants or seeds on eBay. There are a few professional nurseries that sell on there, but it’s hard to know who you can count on in that environment. Amazon has similar issues too with some vendors. I saw someone selling edible banana seeds on there recently. A rip-off for certain. You can only grow food bananas from rooted suckers.

      If no seed company catalogs are offering seed for a plant, you can pretty much be guaranteed that the plant is either extremely difficult to get started, or cannot be grown reliably from seed – if at all.

  • I have experience on buying White Strawberry seeds on eBay! After 7 months of waiting and hope, finally I have RED Strawberries and have no idea what type of berries I’m having now!
    Shame on them!

    • How sad, Errik. Hopefully though they’re the wrong color they are tasty! You can now buy reasonably priced plants as of this garden shopping season though. So much for Burpee and their ridiculous $11.95 each! Norse Farms now has them for $15.50 in a bundle that includes 4 pineberry plants and 1 pollinator plant. Their stock comes from the Berries At Home people in the Netherlands who are known for choice berry plants. Plus they don’t sell any GMO plants, so berries from Norse Farms will be GMO-contamination-free. Buy real pinberry plants HERE. As of today (2/26/14) they are in-stock.

  • Can these grow in a texas garden around this time summers are usually 80-100?

    • Hi Selena,

      I think it depends on where in Texas you are as to whether it’s a fall planted crop that’s harvested in March-April and replanted in the fall – or it will live through the summer. They live through 80-100 degree summers in other areas of the country, but the nights are cool and the length of time those temps last might have something to do with the strawberry plants surviving. Rainfall would also figure into the mix.

      There’s a bunch of Texans and gardeners from Louisiana talking about their strawberry methods on this forum. Maybe you will have luck with their findings. There is one person who starts the next year’s crops from runners of the soon to bake to death current crop’s plants. Smart idea. They would be ready to plant out when the temps cool again in fall. Here’s the link: http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/country-living-forums/gardening-plant-propagation/233951-has-anyone-grown-strawberries-texas.html

  • Wish I had come here first, I literally JUST ordered the seeds from ebay..

    • You have our sympathy, Tiffany. Buying plants or seeds from sellers on Ebay isn’t the best thing to do. It will most likely not be what you wanted, or will arrive rotted, and in the case of seeds…. hold your breath until they sprout. Which they may never do.

      Just buy the plants – from a reputable plant nursery like the one linked from this article. They aren’t cheap, but a few can be turned into a lot over 2-3 years. Strawberry plants can easily outgrow their space to the point you’ll be giving them away by the wheelbarrow load in 4-5 years.

  • Wish I would have done my research before I ordered Pine Berry seeds from Urban Farmer seeds.

    • Hi Toni,

      Shame on them for selling seeds for a hybrid! But they still have stock on White Carolina roots. Very simple to start strawberry plants from roots, and way less expensive than leafed out plants that have labor and greenhouse living expenses added to what you have to pay. Plant the seeds anyway – some of them might give you a pineberry plant. Order the roots fast, because the price is better than any of their competitors.

  • So if I grow pineberries indoors witch they produce fruit year round? And are they a perennial?

    • Yes, strawberry plants are perennials… they come back faithfully year after year from their roots outdoors. Since pineberries are an everbearing variety, they will fruit periodically throughout the season outside, and given the right environment in an indoor garden should exhibit the same behavior.

      However, strawberries need full sun – summer sun. So, I hope you’re planning on getting a serious grow light. You’ll need HIDs for both vegetation and flowering. And quantity of berries produced will be less than growing them outdoors. All winter-grown indoor crops give you a lighter harvest than in spring and summer, even when you do have powerful lights. You’ll find this noted on a number of hydroponic industry sites, Grodan is one that comes to mind – it’s just the way plants are.

  • Actually if you could help me out, im looking for a set up in Which I can have a few pineberry plants growing year round inside while growing fruit year round. I hope you know a way to make this possible, i’d be very grateful!

    • A vertical setup will give you plenty of room for a few plants without taking up lots of floor space. Commercial berry growers use a tower system too in greenhouses or outdoors. There are a few different manufacturers of contained tower setups to choose from on the market. They come in aeroponic and hydroponic versions. To protect against total crop loss in the event of power outages, it would be my choice to get a hydroponic tower, because aeroponics uses no medium around the roots at all. Damage happens fast in a failed aeroponic system.

      I think you’ll want side lighting too doing a fruiting plant in towers indoors. Depends on how reflectant the surrounding walls are, and the main grow light you end up using. Inadequate light doesn’t let any plant perform at it’s best, and bearing fruit takes a lot more light energy than growing leaves.

  • The plants I have are doing great but this is the second year and I see no blooms yet. Is it early or did I need a pollenator plant and,if so, where can I get just that?

    • Hi Claire,

      Whether you should see blooms by now would be determined by the climate you’re in. It might be too early yet, but if they’re doing good, and you purchased them bare root or as potted plants, they should be fine.

      In answer to your question about pollinator plants, yes – you should have some. It seems that pineberries are all female plants, and you’ll get a much better harvest with a few regular strawberries mingled with the planting. It’s suggested that for every 4 pineberries, you’ll want a traditional strawberry growing in close proximity. Since pineberries are everbearing – be sure to get the same kind of red strawberry plants to keep the cross pollination going all season long.

      It won’t alter the fruit your current pineberries produce – but without male input, they won’t be as productive as they can be. Most regular strawberries are self-pollinating.

  • THESE BERRIES SEEM TO FOLLOW ALL THE STANDARD CARE RULES FOR RED STRAWBERRIES AND YOU TUBE IS FULL OF HOW TO’S
    THE BEST BET YOU IS TO FIND A FEW REAL HEALTHY PLANTS AND BABY THEM IN A GREENHOUSE SETUP UNTIL YOU CAN GET LOTS OF CLONE RUNNERS GOING YOURSELF.

    WILL THEY ROOT FROM A CUTTING ESP. IF I USE ROOT HORMONE STARTER ?

    • Hi late…

      Yes, it would help to have friends with the right skills and knowledge, but many wouldn’t have such a person to consult with. Still, we thank you for leaving these suggestions here. Hopefully those who need them most will find them and be able to implement a solution.

    • Hi Richard,

      They should readily root from runners off the mother plant like any other strawberry. Mid-summer I’d try pinning the longest outer stem to the ground and see what happens. Once it roots into the soil you can sever it from mama and transplant the new start.

  • I found a root at Tractor Supply and just planted it. Right now in South Georgia the temps are great but I do worry about when the humidity kicks up…mine will be in partial sun/partial shade

    • How awesome! I was just there over the weekend… guess I need to go back and check out the fruit roots.

      As far as where to plant them for best results in your southern heat, I’m not real sure. A quick search reveals that they should be treated in annual in South Georgia. The plants might fare better in part shade, but you’ll probably have a less abundant harvest. It would be interesting to learn how your planting went through the summer, and if you got fruit or not with them being in part sun. Recommendations are for June-bearing in your area, but this could be due to market favorites for large berries that ship well.

      Wish I could be more help! Perhaps the local Extension Service can give you some pointers on everbearing varieties in your climate. Otherwise, Google deep, searching for ‘everbearing’, ‘ F. vesca types’ and ‘fraises des bois’ growing conditions in your zone. (F. stands for Fragaria.)

      Good luck!

  • Hi Tammy,

    Retail outlets in Australia have just started selling pineberry plants. I believe it has taken four years to get them through customs to ensure they are disease free, but we finally have them.

    I live in Cairns (tropical – heat and humidity) and have grown strawberries successfully so I’m hoping my pineberries will grow well too. Could you please tell me how deep the pot should be for pineberries? I’m also trying bubbleberries and strasberries. I’m concerned that because they are a more ancient type of strawberry that they will need more depth than some of the newer strawberries that have been bred for pots.

    Also, when should you expect pineberries to flower? Do they like the cooler weather coming into warmer weather, or vice versa, or will they flower pretty much all year? Do you also have any flowering information for the bubbleberry or the strasberry?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Joanne.

    • Hi Joanne,

      How exciting for you 🙂 While it might be variety dependent, my understanding is that pineberries are hardy in USDA growing zones 4-8. According to Gardenia.net Cairns is in zone 8, so you should be able to succeed at keeping them going. Since you are on the high end of their temperature range, growing in containers might be the best approach – it allows you to move the plants to a cooler spot during super hot weather. One of the hugest challenges of container growing if keeping roots moist and cool enough to deal with above ground conditions.

      I think if I were living in such a warm climate I would container grow pineberries in fabric pots (Smart Pot, Geo Pot, etc.). This allows you to grow in real soil, and allows air to pass through the sidewalls, resulting in having better moisture retention capabilities, and a cooling breeze. I’ve had great luck mixing heavy topsoil with generous additions of composted cow manure growing tomatoes in Smart Pots, which would lead to a swift death in any other kind of container.

      I do live in a zone 4 climate where summer heat comes in short spells, and the sun’s intensity is lighter than it is in zone 7 and 8. Plants I can grow in full all-day sun would fry in the south in such a placement! I suggest that you keep an eye on them in the container, and if they start looking heat-stressed – move them to where they are shaded in later afternoon during the hot season. Smart Pot styles include a design with handles, or you can put them on a platform with wheels in a larger sized pot for easier moving. Plants with deep root systems will push roots through the bottom with ground contact.

      As far as the depth, I would think at least 6 inches (15cm), perhaps even 8 inches (20cm). The bare root plant I bought this spring at a local farm store that survived had a root system that probably would have needed a 20cm deep pot.

      And Pineberries are everbearing, so you’ll have sporadic flowering and fruiting through months that the temperatures allow it, and in your tropical climate this may be most of the year, though they might need a rest to restore production energy.

      I wish you lots of luck! It would be awesome if you let us know how your pineberry crop turns out.

  • Hi,
    Greetings from Norway! I am on a quest for these white berries, but it seems impossible to order for overseas delivery… do you know of any websites which will send international?

    • Hi Erik,

      To ship live plants across national borders is expensive! It can also be very tricky. First, they must be inspected for possible insect pests and diseases at the nursery in the country of origin, and will not make it through customs without the resulting phytosanitary certificate. Then there’s the danger of them getting tied up in customs in your country so long the plants are dead on arrival.

      Sorry to be the bearer of sad news, but it keeps bad things from spreading everywhere. If I were you, I’d talk to every nursery in Norway about getting pineberries in stock. One that carries plants you know came from UK or Netherlands breeders are your best bet since they are already importing stock. Gather a pineberry wanters group. Have everyone inquire everywhere to show plant sellers there’s a market for them, and one just might get interested in filling this need. If they don’t know the plant will sell, the business won’t be so apt to risk the import.

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