Growing Winter Strawberries in Southern California Print
Written by Ann Shepphird   

StrawberriesOctober 17, 2009: Here is an update on this post, which first ran on October 1, in which a question came in from "Nancy" about growing winter strawberries in Southern California -- with added information on how things turned out and the best place to order winter strawberries. Click "read more" for the whole post:

I'm a home gardener and am determined to grow my own strawberries this winter/spring. We've just put in eight raised gardening beds for winter crops, onions and lettuce, and I want to use one of the beds solely for strawberries. One of my reference tools is Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening book and her very specific instructions for growing strawberries in Southern California. According to her, I need pre-chilled, locally adapted bare root plants that need to go in the ground between November 1 and 10. She also goes on to say that as a general rule "don't order strawberries other than alpine varieties, from catalogues, because they usually don't carry varieties that are adapted to our climate."

My question is: where do I buy the bare root plants, local varieties for San Diego, in small quantities? I have searched the web for California strawberry plants, even up in Watsonville (strawberry capital of the world), and I have found some plants, but with a minimum order of 1500! Can you please help me find a source for my strawberries?

For the answer, we contacted Nick Sakovich, who ran the Master Gardener program in Ventura and Santa Barbara and was a farm advisor for the University of California in Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and now lives – and gardens -- on the Big Island of Hawaii (click "read more" for the rest of the article):

The simple, and best response to your reader’s question would be for her to contact the University of California San Diego Cooperative Extension ( They will have recommendations for strawberry varieties for that area. They are usually sold at local nurseries during the winter months; the Extension may even be able to direct her to some nurseries. Sequoia does well in Southern California and is one of the best tasting (does not ship well, so is not grown commercially). Camarosa and Chandler are also good varieties. In general, the UC Extension office in any county is an excellent source of science-based gardening information.

On October 13, I received this from Nancy:

I contacted the Master Gardener for San Diego and here's what she sent me:

Well, I turned this one over to our horticulturist, Vince Lazaneo, Nancy!

He found, which has two likely varieties in 40-plant packs, but they won't be available until January.  He felt that Albion would be the best choice, Chandler second.

Pat Welsh's advice is correct, but she may not be aware of the logistical impediments.

Good luck!
Barbara G.

It looks like this is the path I'll take.  Thank you for your response and leading me to the right person. I've continued to email the Master Gardener with another question on the best dwarf fruit trees to espalier around my raised beds. It's great to have access to the local knowledge. My winter garden is completely planted now (seven raised beds with beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions, carrots, spinach and lettuce), and I saw the first few leaves of my beets starting to sprout yesterday. I'm thrilled to have a bit of rain right now to be followed by ample sunshine. 

Happy gardening to you and thanks for your help.  Nancy