What Is A Strawberry Jar and How Do You Plant One?

What Is A Strawberry Jar?

Strawberry Jars are earthenware containers shaped somewhat like a barrel. They are open at the top, have a drainage hole at the bottom, and contain a number of pockets or cups around the sides.

The number of pockets depends on the size of the jar.

One a foot high and eight inches across the top may have nine of these side openings, spaced evenly in tiers. Larger ones would have more.

I’ve wondered who came up the idea of the first strawberry jar, and why? The name would lead us to surmise that it was for the purpose of planting strawberries.

clay or terra-cotta strawberry jars ready for planting
Clay Strawberry Jars ready for planting

Perhaps it was someone who had such a fond remembrance of the deliciousness of strawberries freshly picked from the garden that something had to be done immediately about it.

This person probably had no garden but did have an imagination and a sunny window.

The strawberry jar is decorative. It is an object that can be placed in any room and will not look out of place.

Perhaps someone knows the history of the first strawberry jar and can provide us with the actual facts.

Strawberry plants may be set in these jars but more often one finds purely decorative plants.

Almost any kind type of plant can be used which:

  • Does not require extensive root space
  • Does not grow out of bounds quickly
  • Can be severely pruned to keep it to a size proportionate to its growing space.

There are many succulents and cacti available that grow slowly and would remain attractive for a long time.

Can You Plant Cactus and Succulents In A Strawberry Jar?

Planting cactus and succulents in terracotta strawberry jars create wonderful displays for a sunny patio or deck similar to a succulent fountain!

We think of succulents as plants with thick juicy leaves. They are at home in drier regions – deserts or semi-deserts. The smaller ones are ideal for strawberry jars.

Echeveria plants have varying forms of leaves in rosettes similar to the hardy hen-and-chickens.

The leaves of both of these have attractive tinting of color (in some forms) which is often more attractive than the blossoms.

The vary pale grayish-green leaf color has given the “ghost plant” (Graplopetalum paraguayense) its common name. Its rather terrifying names give no indication of its usefulness or beauty.

Sedum comes from a Latin word meaning “to sit.” They like to “sit” near rocks or in other cozy quarters.

There are many kinds, some hardy and others tender. Choose the dwarfer varieties to plant in strawberry jars.

Other Possibilities For Strawberry Pot Planting

The dwarf Sansevieria might be alternated in the openings with plants of trailing or semi-trailing habits such as the house plant known as strawberry-geranium (Saxifraga sarmentosa) or kinds of ivy.

Plectranthus, the spur-flower, or babytears are other suggestions. The Episcias, while small, would make good trailers.

African Violet Options

African-violets could be used in a number of ways.

A jar might be planted to one color, such as all blue, or all pink: or different shades of one color with the lightest at the top and the darkest in the lowest tier.

A combination of two colors would be attractive.

How To Plant A Strawberry Jar

For the actual planting of any kind of plant in one of these containers, follow the steps:

  • Place broken pieces of old pots in the bottom
  • Sprinkle a generous handful of coarse horticultural agriculture charcoal
  • Top with a thick layer of sphagnum
  • Add a central core from the top to the bottom of the jar to carry water down to all parts of the jar. Use a series of bottomless plastic bottles, a cardboard mailing tube or a piece of PVC pipe will work.

Water will seep between the plastic bottles but holes should be punched in the cardboard or PVC to allow the water to drain.

Whatever you use, fill the center with coarse material such as coarse sand or small gravel.

If two people can work at this, it will be simpler. One can hold central core and the other one can pour in the gravel or sand. If plastic bottles are used, add one at a time as the work of planting progresses.

What Soil Should Be Used When Planting Strawberry Pots?

The kind of soil depends somewhat on the plant used. Cacti and succulents prefer a light sandy or gritty soil.

African-violets, Episcias and strawberries would like richer soil with plenty of humus.

Plan to keep everything as light in weight as possible because you want the jar as portable as a pot of plants, and not so heavy that you could not move it

Vermiculite, peat moss, coco coir and sphagnum can make up a good part of the soil. Use a good potting mixture with additional vermiculite, peat moss or coconut coir, adding more sand for succulents.

  • With the core in place, fill in with soil to the top of the first tier of openings, firming the soil well.
  • Then set whatever plants you have chosen into the pockets of that tier, putting each plant in from the outside somewhat diagonally.
  • Cover the roots, working mostly from the inside. Then slope the soil down to the edge of the pockets working from the outside.
  • After the soil has been firmed well around the roots of the plants, continue to fill the jar with soil to the next tier of openings and plant the same way.
  • When the last tier has been planted, fill the jar with soil almost to the top and set three plants at equal distances around the top.

For a very large jar, more plants may be needed. Then fill with soil to the rim and pat it out smoothly.

  • Pour water into the core several times to moisten the soil throughout the jar.
  • Sprinkle plants well to clean them of any dirt and to provide humidity while they are getting settled. After the first watering, be careful about overwatering.
  • Wait until the soil surface is almost dry before adding more water. If you can spare a lazy-susan, place the jar on one.
  • This will make it easier to turn it several times a week in order to give the plants an equal amount of light.

cutout of a Strawberry Jar

I have seen plastic drums planted after the manner of a strawberry jar.

Holes were bored in the sides to provide the openings for planting. The keg had been painted green, and planted with hardy hen-and-chickens.

This could be left outside the year around. Strawberry jars must be kept in a light window during the winter.

They can be placed on a porch or patio during the warm seasons of the year.

When the plants outgrow their limited quarters; it is better to “evict” all of them and find new “tenants” with smaller families.

Clean the jar thoroughly by scrubbing inside and out and use fresh soil for repotting.

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