Alpine strawberries are more elongated than traditional strawberries we are used to seeing.
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5 Great Reasons to Grow Alpine Strawberries

If you love strawberries but maybe you didn’t want to grow them because they were a lot of work or took up too much room. Maybe there is an easy solution. You can grow alpine strawberries for their big flavor and small size.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of watching my mom working in our small garden. I remember sitting on the cool grass nearby and gobbling up these petite berries. The distinct flavor of these strawberries is one of the few memories I have as a toddler.

I am passing along the tradition of picking strawberries from the garden to my daughter.

I’ve grown several different varieties of strawberries in my garden over the years. There are some delicious choices with lots of flavor but they still don’t compare to the intense sweet flavor of alpine strawberries.

I was inspired to bring back this little piece of my childhood to my current garden. I also want to make alpine strawberry plants more known in gardening circles here in the United States. If you love strawberries, you should make trying an alpine strawberry a gastronomic or foodie experience on your bucket list.

What are alpine strawberries?

Fragaria Vesca is also known as a woodland strawberry, European strawberry and Fraise de Boise in French. They grow wild along woodland edges in Northern Europe and South America but have since been cultivated for gardens. They can be found growing wild in the United States. They aren’t well known so they may be hard for your to find.

How do you identify alpine strawberries?

As you can see in the bottom photo, alpine strawberries are more elongated in shape not the heart shaped domestic strawberry you are used to.

My mini harvest from one alpine strawberry plant in one day.

The Alpine strawberry plant shouldn’t be confused with the wild Mock strawberry which has a juicy but flavorless taste. Both are edible. I find mock strawberries in certain parts of my garden and I’ve eaten them as I am weeding. Because they have no flavor, I usually feed the whole plant including the berries to my chickens who just gobble them up.

Close up photo Wild Mock Strawberry which tastes bland.

Table of Contents

1. Grow alpine strawberries for their taste

These tiny berries pack a big punch of sweet strawberry flavor as long as they’re ripe. Otherwise, they taste as bland as a mock strawberry. When picking alpine strawberries, look at the undersides to make sure it’s red all the way around. If not, keep close watch because they will ripen within a day or two.

Never grab the berry itself to pick because it can easily bruise. Either pinch or snip the stem. Collect them in shallow containers so they don’t get crushed.

Depending on how many plants you have in your garden, you could keep picking them at their peak of flavor and freezing them right away because they don’t store for long. When you have collected enough frozen alpine strawberries, they can make a wonderful smoothie mixed with banana or Acai. I love to make homemade ice cream with them, and you only need a cup of alpine strawberries. Just puree the fruit and mix into the ice cream.

You can create a syrup or cordial with them. Many people like to make jam with alpine strawberries and add lemon juice to keep the beautiful red color.

You can keep it simple like me. I just eat them fresh right from the plant. If I am able to get a handful of them, I liked to throw them on top of oatmeal.

2. Grow alpine strawberries in any size garden

Having a smaller space can be limiting on what you can grow. Alpine strawberry plants grow between 6-8″ tall. They can be a border plant or planted along the woods edge. If you’re going to treat it as a woodland plant, you’ll need to clear away brush so they aren’t overwhelmed with underbrush.

They like full sun to part sun with moist but well drained soil. I grow them in a raised bed. Being a woodland strawberry, they can deal with a little more shade than other strawberry plants.

3. You don’t have to worry about Alpine strawberry plants being an invasive plant

Unlike the strawberry plants you are used to that spread through runners, alpine strawberry plants grow in clumps. As they age, they grow in larger clumps. If you want more of them, dig them up and split them as your would your perennials. Berries that aren’t picked, will drop to the ground and may create more alpine strawberry plants.

4. Alpine strawberries come back every year

Unlike domestic strawberry plants that are biennials, alpine strawberries behave like a perennials. They do best in zones 5-9. Don’t worry if you see the foliage die off because with the warmth of the spring, they will produce new leaves.

They only need light winter mulching. You can use straw but I like to use pine needles from my white pine trees after shedding their needles in the fall.

I mulch my alpine strawberries with white pine needles to protect them during the winter.

5. Alpine strawberries are easy to grow

If you are great at growing and maintaining perennials, then growing alpine strawberries should be an easy transition.

Prior to planting, you can add compost or another type of organic matter. Feed them compost before they flower and a good acid fertilizer is the key to a bountiful harvest. If you don’t, they become cute ornamental plants.

When is the best time to harvest?

Alpine strawberries are considered to be “ever bearing” which means they give fruit throughout the season, not just one time. You can harvest from June to as late as October. If the strawberries are left on the plant too long, they can get mushy. They don’t stay fresh for long and are delicate to transport. This is why you don’t usually see them in farmer’s markets or stores.

Either freeze them for future use or eat them soon after picking. The white varieties can ripen to a pale gold. It’s normal and they taste like bubble gum.

Be very careful pulling the strawberry from the plant. Sometimes, the stem doesn’t let go easily and you can pull the whole plant out of the soil. It’s easier to give it a little twist before pulling the berry from the plant or trim with scissors.

What should I watch out for?

If Alpine strawberries are planted in an area with too much shade or planted too close together, they are susceptible to powdery mildew and mold. Also, make sure you don’t over water them.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for aphids that will want to eat the new leaves growing in. For my garden, aphids weren’t an issue but every garden is different. If you have an aphid problem, click here to find out ways to organically deter them from your garden.

Until they are established as a ground cover, weed around them so they don’t get overwhelmed with competition. The critters love them. You may want to spread bird netting to keep birds and other small animals from stealing your little berries. Slugs and snails love them too.

Can I propagate them?

A big misconception is that Alpine strawberries grow like traditional strawberries with runners. Most varieties grow like your flower perennials and spread in clumps. If you want to expand your strawberry garden, gently pull apart mature plants making sure you have roots for each section and replant. Water well until established. Unlike biennial strawberries, these will produce year after year.

When they aren’t harvested, they will self sow as they drop fruit covered in seed on the ground. Small animals and birds sometimes grab the little strawberries and drop them in random places. That’s why you might see a self sown plant in a different place in your yard.

You can dig it up and pot it with lots of compost until it’s big enough to transplant in the strawberry bed. A little extra work is worth it because it’s a free plant and these plants aren’t cheap to buy. So, I don’t mind putting a little extra effort for this.

You can pick the fresh fruit and wash the pulp and plant seeds in a pot with moist soil. It’s not as easy to grow from seed as other plants. Be patient, it could take up to a month for the seeds to germinate.

Where can I buy Alpine strawberries?

If you’re just starting out or you don’t have time to propagate more Alpine strawberries, you can order seeds bare root or starter plants. Maybe you just want to order a few plants and see if you like how they taste.

You can purchase seeds for sale online:

Bakers Creek

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

You can find plants for sale online:

Backyard Berry Plants

Burpee

Raintree Nursery

One Green World

Summary

Alpine strawberries are very giving throughout the season without making a whole lot of effort. They should be on every gardener’s “garden bucket list.” They taste that amazing.

They come back every year so in the long run, are more economical. They can be added to small gardens, grow in containers or naturalized as a woodland plant without worrying about them become invasive. Alpine strawberries are a nice low maintenance option that won’t take up a lot of real estate in your garden. If you don’t harvest them, birds and small animals will happily snack on them.

Hopefully, you’ll give growing alpine strawberries a try and enjoy them as much as I do.