2018 began new exploration of white Alpine strawberries varieties in KRATKY (passive hydroponic) that were too fragile to ship and had to be grown from seeds. 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. Its akin to growing our own natural candies tree.
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.
I found reading on white strawberries simply fascinating and wanted to grow them myself and hopefully , sample the fruits of my labor soon!
After waiting 6 months for the seeds, my White Soul finally arrived and they were frozen overnight for direct sowing on moist soil on August 23 2015.
2015 & 2018 – Germination was very fast, only 6 days. Most other white varieties were slower, 10 – 20 days.
Experiment 2 (2015) – Wanted to test if seeds frozen for over a month will improve its germination time, in the second batch.
Conclusion – It made only one day difference in germination rate for seeds frozen overnight or one month.
Example of a white variety of strawberry sold in Isetan on January 8 2016. Fifteen pieces of gourmet white strawberries from Japan cost Singapore dollars almost $200!
Common varieties of Wild Alpine White strawberries are the following –
- Pineapple Crush
- White Delight
- White Giant
- White Solemacher
- White Soul
As it was not stated on the Isetan White strawberries, one cannot tell if its the true wild or hybrid white strawberries. A much well known and sought after 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.
My observations on White Soul –
- Seedlings were very small.
2. Roots are frail and delicate, not easy to transplant.
It would be very difficult to transplant them if I had no prior experience growing strawberries!
Most of the white soul strawberries seedlings were transplanted into its individual bottles. I really do not want to transplant them too often!
Hydro White Soul grew faster than soil based seedlings.
3. Seedlings had low survival rate, more than half my 50 seedlings died after transplant 🙁
4. For those that survived, they grew very slowly 🙂
5. Hardier plants from the 4th month. Survival rate is very good from this point.
March 10 2016 – First flower bud 🙂
Outdoor Trials – Bright Corridor
Even though this variety thrived in USA Zone 4 – 8, I wanted to see how they grow in our natural environment without air-conditioning. Thus 10 plants in 3 batches were planted in my 60L compost pot in my bright corridor.
From this pioneer batch, only one survived today (March 8 2016), however I learned how to adjust the pot environment to enable them to survive in Singapore without air-conditioning! 🙂
Outdoor Trial began on January 18 2016.
As the weather became warmer in Singapore, more adjustments were made in our corridor pots 🙂
May 2016 – Corridor trails without air-conditioning, sun, and shelter from rain, were a total failure. All 30 plants died ! White Soul strawberries seem to need air-conditioning and a cooler climate/environment to thrive. Luckily for our studies, Regina Fok, who is based in USA, will germinate her seeds to help us test this theory.
After the post of Hydroponics Strawberries was written, I decided to experiment with half hydroponic/half soil method on the white strawberries. This was more a pragmatic decision rather than a zest to experiment with hydroponics! 🙂 The roots of some plants had already outgrew their pots and transplanting flowering white strawberries was too risky. White Strawberries as we already learned during the seedlings stage, did not like to move! :
Net the bottom of the pot to prevent more soil erosion and the pot is sitting on an old steamer’s tray instead of resting fully in the nutrients solution. I needed to see how these plants react to the nutrients solution first before I changed them over totally!
White strawberries are by far, one of the most difficult to start from seeds. The seedlings are slow to grow and delicate.
In 2017, new trials continued to improve our understanding of this type of strawberries.
Comparative data from USA – Regina Fok will collect data on white strawberries from seeds journey in cooler USA zone for us 🙂 Thank you, Regina!!
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. 🙂
2018 – Sowed a few varieties of white strawberries on January 20. They germinated on January 26 after 6 days, although it felt longer. The taste profile is caramel flavored and sweet when ripe.
White strawberries varieties are considerably small in size and slower to grow than the common red varieties. See how tiny they were when they began this journey in Singapore!
White strawberries have the characteristics red stems of normal red garden varieties. From germinating through growth stages here, we are breeding in natural SG environment.
We aimed to grow 5 varieties of white strawberries in 2018 and built a portfolio of gourmet hydro plug-ins for gardeners to grow.
An uphill battle won ! Finally we got fruits from our February 20 batch of seedlings!
Do check in to our SHOP when these plugs are ready for reservation. In the meantime, other kits, seeds, customized soil mix etc are ready for consideration!
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
- Minimum soil temperature is 15 degree Celsius
- Well drained loamy soil
- Moderate watering, preferred drip irrigation
- Temperature not above 29 degree Celsius
- 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 )