In 2017, we began new exploration of white wild Alpine strawberries varieties in KRATKY (passive hydroponic) that were not common commercially and too fragile to ship, thus we had to grow them from seeds. Some of their taste profiles were described as intensely aromatic, mostly sweet with different variant of interesting flavors, such as pineapple, cotton candy, rose syrup or caramel.
As we explored more widely and tasted the fruits of our labor, we discovered not every white (or yellow) strawberries carried this special taste.
Now we understood why some growers classified the special ones as “gourmet” and others as “common”. Seeds prices were higher and sources to buy were more limited with the gourmet range.
True white strawberries belonged to 2 groups only.
- Alpine (Fragaria Vesca, originated in Europe)
- Beach (Fragaria Chiloensis, originated in Chile, also known as South American or coastal strawberries)
Both the alpine and beach strawberries are wild species.
White strawberries are white because they lacked the protein FRA a1 which made red strawberries red. People who are allergic to red strawberries have no problems eating white strawberries because of the absence of this protein.
An example of white strawberries sold in ISETAN (Japanese shopping store) on January 8 2016. It is not far fetched to sell fifteen pieces of gourmet white strawberries for Singapore $200, about USD $150.
After growing our own wild white strawberries since 2016, we now know that these supermarkets’ strawberries are likely hybrid. Heirloom wild strawberries are typically small and soft flesh. Once harvested, they are unlikely to last a day. What they lacked in size, these varieties more than compensate with their aromatic intense flavor and unique taste.
A sought after and commercial popular white hybrid variety is Pineberry (white flesh, red seeds), a cross between Fragaria and Ananassa varieties. This cannot be grown from seeds, as Pineberry is a cultivated hybrid, thus please do not buy pineberry seeds online.
List of some Wild Alpine White varieties –
- Pineapple Crush
- White Delight
- White Giant
- White Solemacher
- White Soul
We started our exploration in 2015 with WHITE SOUL variety in soil and then late 2017 liquid base.
With the experience gained from Pineapple Strawberries (yellow varieties) in 2016 and 2017, we had more confidence to try more white strawberry varieties. On January 20, we sowed four new types and they germinated on January 26 after 6 days, using new germination method.
One of these new varieties belonged to the gourmet category with taste profile of caramel and pineapple. These seeds are no longer on sale.
See how tiny they were when they began this journey in Singapore!
White strawberries varieties are considerably smaller and slower to grow than the common red varieties.
And like children, they grew up!
White strawberries have the characteristics red stems of normal red garden varieties. From germinating through growth stages here, we are breeding them in natural SG environment.
Our hope is to grow more varieties of white strawberries and built a portfolio of gourmet hydro plug-ins for household gardeners and high tech systems. Some of our seeds collected over the years are no longer available for sale internationally.
A Comparative journal from USA, with Regina Fok
To collect growth data on white strawberries from our seeds. Thank you, Regina!
Her seeds germinated in 9 days in an indoor environment of 23C. Similar to our white strawberries seedlings, her seedlings were small as well.
The size of first harvest fruits are same as ones grown in tropical Singapore.
As there is not much information available on white strawberries in our tropical zone, we are hoping to record more data as we grow them in our blog. 🙂
THE UNEXPECTED CURVE BALLS (CHALLENGES)
White strawberries are by far, one of the most difficult to start from seeds. However, the more challenges they present, the deeper we learned how to grow them.
Whether in high tech systems, Kratky (liquid base) or soil, this knowledge is invaluable , especially for gourmet strawberries’ recovery SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) because plants and seeds are now scarce to our region.
With this variety, we experienced how every part of the plant can “break away” and how to save them when it happened. The following is a list of challenges for growing white strawberries plants out of their natural zone.
White strawberries are extremely delicate and fragile. Transplanting them need extra care. The leaves suffer rot easily, thus its a good idea not to get the leaves wet and stay wet. Surviving seedlings are slower to grow. They become hardy after the fourth month.
The roots sometimes dropped off for no reason.
With limited roots, strawberry plant can still stand upright. They also recovered fast with the right remedy. Sign of successful recovery is first more roots mass and then new leaf growth from the crown (mid section of the plant).
It is possible to regenerate new roots when this happened for hydroponic plants.
The strawberry top can breakaway from its crown like this.
In the past, when this happened, it would rang a death knell for this plant.
However, even with a tiny part of roots remaining, it is possible to revive a strawberry plant.
With recovery SOP, now we could recover these plants as long as they were healthy before the separation, that is not pests stressed etc. In 7 days, new roots showed.
Once on the mend, roots gained mass quickly. This was the progress between March 5 to the 14th.
A clear signal from a recovered plant is when new leaf showed at the crown and color returned to the stem.
Fruits of our labour
Uphill battles won ! Finally we harvested fruits from February 2018 plants!
We are always grateful for these small fruits after so many trials at every stage.
Do check in to our SHOP for seeds or net-cups ! Seedlings had to be pre-ordered due to limited space.
With the compilation of 2 years of strawberries growth data in our tropical zone, we discovered new ways to grow them better. Future strawberries will be breed this way, with zero carbon footprint, yet tough enough to fruit in natural environment. In addition, our hydro seedlings can be easily plugged in high tech systems or stand bare in Kratky.
White Strawberries Summary –
- Perennial plant
- Heavy feeder, need Phosphorous and Potassium like most strawberries
- Minimum 6 hours light, prefers shade over full sun
- Well drained loamy soil
- Moderate watering, preferred drip irrigation
- Temperature not above 29 degree Celsius
- More delicate seedlings than red varieties
- Fruits were slower to develop in natural environment
- Suffered heat stress more often, not recommended outdoor
- Pineapple scent permeates the whole plant during fruiting stage
- Mature plants are 6 – 8 inches tall, Width 10 – 12 inches across
- Suitable for USA zone 4 – 8 (For reference, Singapore is beyond Zone 13 )