I have always been a fan of Geode cakes and so I had to create an easy tutorial of how to make strawberry towers! These strawberry towers are the perfect treat for summertime and are super fun to make as well as a unique dessert your friends will love! So here’s everything you need to know about how to make strawberry towers:
How To Make Strawberry Towers
An elegant edible centerpiece made with dipped strawberries and organic roses can easily be made at home with a Styrofoam florists’ cone. Place them on reception tables for wedding décor, or make a sweet gift for someone special.
Months before I’m scheduled to make a wedding cake I go into research mode. My desk becomes piled high with cake magazines and I scour wedding websites to get an idea of what’s new in cake design. This year I’m making two wedding cakes so I’ve been scouting double-time. (And imagine the imminent clutter!) One thing repeatedly caught my eye wasn’t cake at all, it was a table centerpiece.
Strawberry towers (also called trees) aren’t a new idea. It seems they’ve been around for a while, but the new-ish addition of fresh roses and greenery makes a very pretty centerpiece.
A few fancy bakeries are offering these towers for purchase at around $200 for a 10-inch tower (as I’ve made here). I think the price tag is justified if you don’t have time to make one yourself, but I must tell you, this DIY version costs much less!
I purchased two dozen roses for this project in two different colors. I didn’t use all 24 buds on the tower, but it was nice to have a variety of sizes and colors to choose from. Organic roses will be pesticide-free, so I suggest seeking them out. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are both good places to look for them and they are less expensive than florists. The tower will hold about one pound of dipped strawberries, but I suggest getting two pounds so you can pick the very best berries of the two containers.
I couldn’t find many tutorials on how to build a strawberry tower, and the ones I did find had the berries sticking out at odd angles. Ideally, the berries should be pointing upward so they appear to have a rosebud-like shape. After some experimenting I figured out how to achieve this look. The following tutorial is my own method.
- First, pick only the prettiest, unblemished berries. Pull off their green tops and wash and thoroughly dry them. Line the berries up smallest to largest on a parchment sheet. Melt 12 ounces of vanilla candy wafers (or white chocolate) and dip each strawberry into the candy. Leave a nickel-sized portion of the strawberry uncovered on the backs of each berry (see picture 1). Place them on the parchment and allow them to stand until set, about 1 hour.
- Choose an 8-inch serving plate or cake stand with a lip. Place a little leftover melted candy (about 1 tablespoon) in the center of the plate.
- Press the bottom of a 9×4-inch Styrofoam florists’ cone in the center. Let stand until set.
- Cut a rosebud head from its stem and dip the end in melted candy.
- Place the flower head at the base of the cone with the melted candy stem touching the cone.
- Repeat the process, alternating the roses with macarons. Do not use melted candy on the macarons, they should be easy for guests to pull away from the arrangement. I made the bottom of the arrangement with only macarons and roses.
- Stick a toothpick into the cone just above the bottom row of flowers/macs at an upward angle.Starting with the larger dipped strawberries, thread one onto the toothpick. Thread it at the nickel-sized open area on the back of each berry. Arrange it so that the strawberry’s pointed end is pointing upward and not straight out.
- Repeat process, alternating with roses in the same fashion. Continue the next row with strawberries only and use smaller berries as you travel up the cone. I added a few more roses about 1/3 from the top of the tower, but you could use only berries if desired.
- A larger and more bloomed rose can be used for the top of the tower. Insert a toothpick in the very top of the cone and thread on the rose. There will be some gaps between the berries. Tuck individual rose leaves between berries and anywhere the Styrofoam cone is visible.
Here are a few more tips/things to consider as you’re making this project.
- Choose roses that have tight buds. You want the berry shape and the rose shape to almost be the same.
- Rose heads that are bloomed or are too large can be made smaller by plucking off some of the outer petals.
- The Styrofoam cone can be covered with plastic wrap before adding the berries, if desired.
- You may have to re-position some of the toothpicks as you arrange berries on the tower, If you have to pull a toothpick out of the foam, hold the top of the tower down as you do so. The candy will definitely hold the cone stationary as you work, but it’s not super glue.
- The tower can be prepared one day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator overnight.
I think the total cost of my tower was less than $40, not counting the cake stand that I already had on hand. The roses were the bulk of the cost ($25), and the 1 lb berry baskets were on sale at the grocery store (BOGO!). Store-bought macarons can be pricey, but I only used six. The candy coating is usually around $3 per package and can be found at most craft stores in the baking aisle. Most of what you need can be found locally, but I’m including a few quick shopping links so you can be sure what to look for. I also included the link to the cake stand I used.
Easy DIY Strawberry Towers Tutorial
DIY Strawberry Towers are ideal for small space garden areas.
These towers are Perfect for patios with a tiny footprint and the handy vertical structure makes for easy pickings.
These DIY Strawberry Towers are a simple Spring Garden project.
Growing strawberries in towers also keeps them contained, mobile and easy to water.
Give new life to old buckets and manage your strawberry plants easily.
This up-cycle project is Cute enough for gifting and a practical solution to managing this wild running berry.
Strawberries LOVE growing this way.
For a few years Dave and I have been bringing strawberries back into our garden. We had a long break from them for a couple of decades.
How to Build a Strawberry tower
Strawberries are so yummy and good for us, we really love to eat them. I used to grow them, unsuccessfully in our old garden. I learned to hate growing them.
Managing Strawberries in the garden beds:
- Strawberries tend to run wild if not diligently managed. They propagate through runners. If the runners are not replanted or weeded out, the mother plant will get spindly and weak.
- The entire strawberry bed will become a mass of weak, disorganized plants that are hard to pick and Impossible to control and weed.
- If strawberries are not managed well the berries will be small and hard. Sort of flavorless too. They need fertilizer, water and containment!
- Strawberries are always popping up out of nowhere in the garden bed and encroaching on other crops. They grow baby plants on sneaky runners and sprawl all over. (Kind of like their evil twin, buttercups. Don’t get me started!)
- Putting strawberries into perfect rows and keeping them weeded in our garden is backbreaking, frustrating work. They won’t stay put! They also need constant overseeing, watering ,fertilizing and weeding throughout the growing season. So we need them where we can find them and take good care of them for best crop.
To solve Our strawberry management problems, Dave made them their own area in our raised beds and built some Strawberry towers.
Managing Strawberries in a Tower:
The towers are a HUGE garden space saver. I planted 24 strawberries in the green tower I made today.
That would need a garden bed of at least 6 x 4.
Strawberries are much easier to weed and manage in containers, raised beds (Learn how he made ours) and strawberry towers. For these reasons:
- The baby starts are easier to find and replant. This helps the strawberry mother plant bed stay refreshed so it will grow better bigger berries!
- Strawberry towers need no weeding, the runners are easy to find and snip off or replant.
- The towers are mobile with a small footprint.
- The towers are set up to hold water well and have a handy center pipe to reach the lower level plants.
- The strawberries are easy to pick too. They just hang out there where you can easily spot them.
- Strawberries enjoy growing in containers. We are actually finding out we get a better crop from our container strawberries than those in our raised beds.
Recycling used five gallon buckets for this project is eco friendly.
Spray Paint the buckets to make them cute and grow them right on your patio! The first time we made these Dave didn’t think painting his towers was necessary.
I REALLY hate the look of those painty mismatched towers, But they work great. Removing industrial labels and Painting the buckets to match will give them a much prettier look for your garden or patio.
This DIY Strawberry Tower was a gift to our daughter and son in law, Kayti and Brian. Now they can sit on their porch and munch fresh strawberries right off the vine!
Grow Up! Make a Vertical Strawberry Tower
Grow strawberries vertically with a PVC tower.
When the time comes to plan the garden, my younger niece is only interested in one crop. Sure, she’ll grudgingly help plant tomatoes. Cucumbers? Ho hum. Not even cantaloupe sparked her interest. Bring on the strawberries!
We’ve planted just half a dozen plants along the garden fence line the last few years, but in the spirit of planting vertically and trying to satisfy her appetite for the sweet berry, this year we are trying our hand at a strawberry tower. After some asking around, some research, and a lot of discussion, eighteen strawberry plants are not just growing, but flourishing using just a square foot of yard space.
Our “tower” is a six foot length of 4” PVC schedule 40 pipe. Using a hole saw drill bit, we cut 2 ½” holes down one side spaced at about twelve inches, leaving the last foot uncut to sink into the ground. Turning the pipe by a third, another row of holes were cut, offset four inches from the first row.
Finally, another one third turn and another offset row of holes were cut. The nieces were then set loose with some cans of spray paint found in the garage to give our whiffle ball tower a bit of artistic flair. They considered several motifs before settling on what might best be described as “postmodern camouflage.”
What can I tell you? I don’t know art, but I know what I like. Once the paint dried, a few minutes spent with a post hole digger and our work of art stood tall and proud out by the garden.
Not so tough. But would it support life? Our biggest concern was moisture retention. We were prepared to mount a hose bib for automatic watering, but hoped that wouldn’t be necessary. Packing soil into the pipe didn’t seem practical, but a blend of peat and perlite as our planting medium ended up fitting the bill nicely and should help keep things appropriately soggy.
When planting the strawberries, one tower veteran recommended using newspaper to cover the holes until we could get the plants in place. We took a more free-form route, though, enlisting the berry-loving niece to cover the holes one at a time with her hand, pouring the peat/perlite blend to that level, adding a plant then moving on to the next. With all holes filled and two last plants occupying the opening at the top of the pipe, we were good to go.
How’d we do? Water was definitely the top concern for us, but so far we are faring well. Taking the hose to it every few days seems to be doing the job and the plants have remained healthy and hearty. The tower is also yielding fruit steadily, although when I went to take a few pictures, none were to be found. Come to think of it, the berry-loving niece had a curiously satisfied smirk on her face that day.
Growing Strawberries in Containers
If you don’t have enough sun or space to grow fruiting trees or shrubs in your yard, give strawberries a try.
It’s hard to beat the treat of juicy fruit picked at perfect ripeness, straight from the plant. But what if you don’t have enough sun or space to grow fruiting trees or shrubs in your yard? Give strawberries a try! They’re small enough to plant in a pot, and when you choose the right kind, they can produce delicious fruit through much of the growing season.
Besides being a great choice where there’s little or no garden space, keeping strawberries in containers makes it easier to protect the fruits from slugs and many animal pests, and the good air circulation around their leaves can help to prevent disease problems. Growing potted strawberries on your deck, patio or balcony also makes it a snap for you to keep an eye on the maturing berries and catch them at the peak of ripeness for picking. With their lush leaves, pretty white or pink flowers, and colorful fruits, strawberry plants are also quite attractive, as well.
Exploring Your Options
Regular (hybrid) strawberries come in a couple of different types. “June-bearers” produce an abundance of berries over a period of a few weeks in late spring or early summer, then send out lots of runners (slender, horizontal stems with small plantlets). Varieties sold as “ever-bearing” or “day-neutral” usually produce moderate amounts of berries in late spring and early fall, often with some during the summer, too, if the weather’s not too hot. Ever-bearing and day-neutral varieties, such as ‘Seascape’, ‘Temptation’ and ‘Tristar’, tend to be the best choices for containers, because they bear fruit during their first year, and you get an extended harvest period. They do produce runners, but usually not as vigorously as June-bearing types.
Alpine strawberry (Fragaria vesca) plants look similar to regular strawberries, though their flowers and fruits are much smaller, and they stay neat and bushy, with no runners. While the berries are intensely flavorful, they’re somewhat delicate and don’t ship well, so you’ll rarely find them sold in grocery stores. Fortunately, it’s no trouble to grow these pretty plants in pots, which means you can enjoy these gourmet treats over a period of months right outside your door. ‘Alexandria’, ‘Improved Ruegen’ and ‘Mignonette’ produce red fruits; ‘White Soul’ and ‘Yellow Wonder’ bear creamy-white to pale-yellow berries.
Planting and Caring for Your Strawberries
Strawberries can adapt to a wide variety of containers, from 6- to 8-inch pots for individual plants to larger planters, such as wooden or plastic half barrels, for multiple plants. They grow in hanging baskets and window boxes too. You can also find “strawberry jars,” which are upright planters with multiple small pockets in the sides to hold the plants. It’s difficult to water these sorts of containers effectively, however, so they often produce disappointing results.
Fill the container you’ve chosen with a soil-less potting mix, then add the plants. Set the container in a site with plenty of light; at least eight hours of sun a day is ideal for good fruit production, though alpine strawberries can do well even with just six hours of sun. Water as needed to keep the roots evenly moist if rain is lacking. Every two weeks or so from late spring to late summer, give your strawberries a dose of liquid fertilizer, mixed according to the directions on the package.
In many areas strawberries can survive the winter outdoors in their container and sprout again in spring. The hybrid types get crowded quickly, though, and eventually stop producing fruit. If you’re growing ever-bearing or day-neutral types, you may just want to treat them as annuals and plant new ones each spring to keep them fresh and productive. Alpine strawberry plants can last for many years, but it’s a good idea to divide the clumps every three years or so in early to mid-spring and replant them in fresh potting mix.