Strawberries can be grown in a wide variety of containers.
Strawberries are grown in containers for 3 reasons:
Space: Strawberries are a compact plant and even gardeners with limited space can have a few pots at hand
Convenience: You can have pots of strawberries close to your kitchen or by your outdoor seating area.
Pest Control: Growing strawberries plants off the ground will help cut down bacterial and fungal disease problems.
Choosing the container
When strawberries are grown in containers one of the most important criteria to get right is matching he number of plants to the size of container. There are a wide variety of specialised containers for growing strawberries such as the Patio Strawberry Tub (see image above) from Suttons and else where. They can be grown in plastic pots, Terracotta pots, guttering pipe, well just about anything, even barrels.
The use of containers to grow strawberries gives this method a major advantage over the use of beds that is the ease of preparation. Also it has the advantage of taking up a lot less space, great if you don't have a lot of space. However there are also some disadvantages namely you cannot grow as many plants and hence will get a smaller crop and watering can be problematic.
Whatever container you use there always needs to be a layer of drainage material in the bottom, this can be broken clay pots, broken bricks, stones etc. Also if you are using a tall vertical container there needs be be a central core of drainage material running up through the middle. Ideally this will be provided by using a wire mesh tube filled with hardcore, alternatively you can use a piece of plastic downpipe with holes drilled into it filled with hardcore. I would advise doing this even with the commercially available pots such as the one in the picture.
If you are using a barrel, drill 7.5 cm (3") holes in the sides, follow the instructions above regarding drainage, then using a good potting compost, work upwards in layers and as each hole is reaches insert the roots from the outside, ensuring that the plant is not too deep or too shallow. Firm the compost layer by layer as you do to ensure there is minimal soil settlement after planting, also water each layer as you go.
Growing in Containers - Care and Maintenance.
Once your container is planted there is very little in the way of maintenance for container grown strawberries. The main thing is too keep the soil watered as compost in containers dries out much more quickly than soil in the open ground. However over watering must be avoided as this will lead to the plants rotting. The other routine tasks with growing strawberries in containers is to regularly remove the runners, in the third year you may want to leave some runners on to propagate from, providing that the plants are healthy and disease free.
Strawberries grown in a container cultivation have the same requirements as those grown in beds; you will need to provide some form of protection from birds, mice and squirrels, how this is provided will depend on the type of container being used and the location of the container, but in most cases it will be the use of some form of lightweight plastic netting.
If you are using smaller containers it is possible to get an early crop if you move these indoors (see Growing strawberries for an early crop).