How to Grow Pineberries – The Strawberry That Tastes Like Pineapple & Bubblegum
The name of these strawberries come from the pineapple flavor. These fruits have white flesh and red seeds, and are an improved version of the original South American strawberry, with a highlight on the pineapple flavor.
Pineberries now come from the original Chilean strawberry stocks that still remained with some European breeders. You can’t find them at the markets, so the best option is to grow them yourself!
Planting material is available from select breeders by mail order, and a few nurseries may be stocking them. They are worth growing, and you and your family will love them.
How To Grow Pineberries
Pineberry starts are quite expensive, but you don’t have other option as many gardeners have found that they don’t come true from seeds. Make sure that the plants you are ordering are self-pollinating.
The pineberry starts you will receive by mail will be small and fragile. They are suitable for growing in USDA zones 4-8 but you may have success in other zones as well (as long as you grow them in containers and protect them from freezing temperatures). Carefully ease them out of the package. Plant them in pots if you are starting with only a few plants.
Growing Pineberries in Containers
You can grow them in any container that can hold a quart of soil. Their small root system would do great for a 10”-12” pot that is 8” deep. Carefully consider the drainage holes as this is very important for pineberries. If you want them to grow in hanging containers or baskets, you must provide good drainage. Check the soil moisture all the time, as they need sufficient moisture in the soil at all times.
If you want to make your own soil mix (this is the best option), then here’s how to do it:
- 10 parts sterile potting soil
- 10 parts peat moss
- 8 parts perlite
- 4 parts compost
- 1 part sand
Combine all of these ingredients to get a uniform mix. Check the pH of the mix. Pineberries like slightly acidic soil, so a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal. You can also add amendments to increase the soil pH.
Hanging containers can be closely planted, with 1 plant to every 6 inches. Keep them in a place that receives 6 hours of direct sunlight or 8-10 hours very bright indirect light. Water the plants before the soil dries out. Feed with a liquid fertilizer from May onwards to keep the plants in good health throughout the bearing season.
How To Make A Pineberry Patch
If you want to have a patch of pineberries, prepare the bed as you normally would for garden strawberries. Choose an area that gets at least 6 hours sun, preferably in the morning. Make sure to keep a safe distance from blackberry and raspberry bushes that could transfer common pathogens to your strawberries.
The preparation of the bed is significant, because your pineberries will stay there for a few years. Add some ammonium nitrate and a slow-release organic fertilizer to the soil. Good drainage is also important. Amend the soil with plenty of organic matter and sand to improve drainage.
Pineberries need space to spread, but they don’t mind if planted close, so you can ideally plant them closer, one plant every 12 inches.
- Double dig the bed and remove all weeds.
- Add some long-lasting organic manure.
- Make small holes in the bed 12 inches apart.
- Place the pineberry starts in the holes, making sure that their crowns are at soil level, not below.
- Fix them in place and tamp down the soil around them
- Water the plants well.
Spring is the ideal time to plant the starts after the ground has warmed up a bit. Spring-planted strawberries may start bearing only the next year.
Pineberries will grow without much trouble if they are kept happy with regular watering and feeding. Give them a liquid feed of high phosphorous, high potassium fertilizer every 3-4 weeks starting from mid-spring to promote flowering and fruit set.
When the flowers start appearing, mulch around the plants to prevent the developing fruit from touching the ground. Pick the berries as they mature as well.