K-State horticulture expert says the cool weather allows strong root systems to establish

By Maddy Rohr, K-State Research and Extension news service

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The current cool period is perfect for starting strawberry plants in Kansas, said Kansas State University horticulture instructor Cynthia Domenghini.

She said mother plants should be set from mid- to late March in southern Kansas and late March to mid-April in northern Kansas when soil temperatures are between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Establishing mother plants in early spring encourages daughter plants to grow earlier as well,” Domenghini said. “This results in larger growth from the first daughter plants by the end of the growing season and ultimately more berries the following spring.”

Domenghini said planting strawberries during higher temperatures stresses mother plants, limiting their growth and making them weaker, which negatively affects the number of berries produced.

“Newly established plants have a limited amount of energy stored. This energy needs to be used for root development and making runners rather than making fruit,” Domenghini said.

During the first growing season, removing all flowers prevents energy used for fruit development, Domenghini said.

“If fruit is allowed to develop during the first year of growth, expect weaker daughter plants and a drastic reduction in the amount of fruit the following year due to insufficient energy,” Domenghini said.

Domenghini and her colleagues in K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for maintaining home landscapes and gardens. The newsletter is available to view online or can be delivered by email each week.

Interested persons can also send their garden and yard-related questions to

Domenghini at cdom@ksu.edu, or contact your local K-State Research and Extension office.