How to Plant a Strawberry Pot with Hens and Chicks

You Will Need:

1 strawberry pot (see information in item 1)
1 small piece of window screening (about 2 inches square)
Succulent potting mix, well-draining with time-release fertilizer
Small Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) plants, 1 for each hole in the planter (see item 2 for additional plant suggestions)
3 or more (depending on container size) large Sempervivum plants to fill top of container

Optional watering tube:

1-inch diameter PVC pipe (1 ½ to 2-inch diameter for large pots)
Hacksaw
Electric drill with 1/4-inch bit

Instructions:

  1. Available at local garden centers, strawberry pots are urn-shaped with an open top and multiple planting holes cut into the sides into which small plants are tucked. Traditionally planted with strawberry plants, these pots can also be planted with other small, low-growing plants (see item 2 for plant suggestions). Offered in a variety of sizes, strawberry pots are available in traditional terra cotta or colorful glazes. Protruding “pockets” provide a small lip to help hold plants in place. If using a terra cotta pot, soak it in a bucket of water for 1 hour before planting.
  2. Traditionally planted with strawberries, strawberry pots make attractive patio displays when planted with Sempervivum, commonly called Hens and Chicks. Portulaca (also, Moss Rose), Burro Tail and other succulents also make attractive displays. For a mini back-porch herb garden, fill each hole with a different herb.
  3. Optional watering tube. Ensuring even water distribution presents the biggest challenge when growing plants in a strawberry pot. Attempting to water each individual plant is difficult and tends to wash away the anchoring soil. Watering through the pot’s open top is also problematic. Water too much and water will collect in the bottom of the pot, threatening lower plants with root rot. Water too little and upper plants will absorb all of the moisture, leaving lower plants dry and thirsty. Placing a watering tube in the center of your strawberry pot ensures that plants in every tier receive adequate water.
    To make a watering tube: Using a hacksaw, cut a length of 1-inch diameter PVC pipe 2 inches shorter than the interior height of your pot. (Increase pipe diameter to 1 ½ to 2 inches for large containers.) Using a large (1/4-inch) drill bit, drill holes around the pipe, spacing them randomly about 2 inches apart. Set aside.
  4. Choose a good-quality, well-draining potting mix with time-release fertilizer that is appropriate for the type of plant selected. Use a succulent potting mix for Hens and Chicks. To make the soil easier to work with, pour potting mix into a bucket and dampen thoroughly with water. The soil should be evenly moist but not soggy.
  5. Place the piece of screening over the drainage hole in the inside bottom of the strawberry pot to prevent soil from clogging the hole.
  6. Fill the planter with soil to the bottom of the first tier of planting holes.
  7. Insert one end of the watering tube into the center of the pot, gently pressing it down into the soil until it is firmly anchored. Do not allow the pipe to rest on the bottom of the pot. There should be at least 1 inch of space between the bottom of the pot and the end of the tube. Stuff a piece of paper towel loosely in the top end of the pipe to keep it free of soil during planting.
  8. Place a small plant in each hole on the bottom tier of the pot. Starting from outside the pot, push the plant’s root ball through the hole, gently grabbing it inside the pot and pushing the roots into the soil. Firm soil around the roots to hold the plant in place. If root balls are large, you may prefer to thread plants through the holes from the inside out. Use whichever method you find easiest.
  9. Continue adding soil and filling holes, one tier at a time until all holes are filled. Stop filling when soil is about 1 inch below the top of the watering pipe and two inches below the lip of the strawberry pot.
  10. Plant 3 or more larger plants in the top of the pot, arranging them to camouflage the watering tube.
  11. Remove the paper towel from the watering hole and fill with water until water no longer drains from the pipe. Gently water the soil around the pipe.
  12. Place your strawberry pot will it will receive plenty of sunlight and water regularly through the watering tube. Small pots dry out quickly and will require more frequent watering than large pots. In hot weather, you may need to water your strawberry pot daily.
Photo by: apple_pathways