Pineberries are actually strawberries with pineapple-like flavor. This variety has white flesh and red seeds, and they are an improved version of the original South American strawberry.
Don’t panic, the color and the flavor isn’t a result of a genetic modification. Fragaria chiloensis are native to Chile, and they were always white with a shade of pink.
These strawberries are the original ancestors of “regular” strawberries. Fragaria chiloensis strawberries were crossed with red strawberries Fragaria virginiana. That’s why garden strawberries are called Fragaria x ananassa. “Ananassa” comes from the pineaple flavor of the ancestors.
How to grow pineberries
Do you know how to grow regular strawberries? Pineberry starts are expensive, so you can buy 2-3 and increase the stock by division. Use self-pollinating plants. Cross pollination with “regular” strawberries won’t change the color or the flavor of your pineberries, and you will have a higher fruit set.
Pineberry starts grow well in USDA zones 4-8, but you may grow these in other zones if you protect the containers from extremes.
Pineberries grow well in containers that hold a quart of soil. Their roots are small and you can use 10’’-12’’ pots that are 8’’ deep. Drainage is also important. Sogginess kills pineberries, but they do need constant moisture.
How to make the perfect soil mix?
• 10 parts sterile potting soil
• 10 parts peat moss
• 8 parts perlite
• 4 parts compost
• 1 part sand
Pineberries like slightly acidic soil with a pH value of 5.5 to 6.5. Plant 1 plant to every 6 inches of space, and keep the hanging containers in spots that receive 6 hours of direct sunlight or 8-10 hours of bright indirect light. Water your pineberries before the soil becomes dry. Use liquid fertilizer from May.
Make a pineberry patch
Prepare your beds as you do for regular strawberries. Plant strawberries in spots that get at least 6 hours of sun in the morning. Avoid beds where you have planted peppers, tomatoes and potatoes before.
The fungal spores of Fusarium and Verticillium that affects nightshade family plants may be dormant in the soil for four years and eventually come out and destroy pineberries. Plant your raspberry and blackberry bushes away from strawberries
Use ammonium nitrate and a slow-release organic fertilizer when prepping the beds, and provide a good drainage system. Use raise beds if your deal with poor soil or waterlogging.
Pineberries need enough space, and you can plant them with 12-inch space between each start.
Here are a few tips:
- Dig the bed and remove weeds
- Use long-lasting organic manure
- Make holes, and place the starts; the crowns should be at soil level
- Tamp down the soil around the starts
- Water the starts
Protect the starts from late spring frosts, and the plant will start bearing fruits next year. If you plant your starts in fall, make sure you protect them properly.
Use fertilizer packed with potassium and phosphorus every 3-4 weeks and water the plants regularly.
Mulching is important once the flowers appear. Pick mature berries to increase their production. Cut down on watering in late fall and don’t fertilize the plants.