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.
The 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.
Indoors 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
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.