Overwintering strawberry plants
I tried strawberries for the first time this year and got great berries from a single plant in a 12" diameter white plastic hanging basket. I did not allow it to form any runner/offsets until early August and then only two, which I removed and potted up into their own 4" pots so that I'll have additional plants next year.
We live in zone 7 which means we get freezes and the pots obviously can't stay outdoors, nor do I want to put them into the ground (because of many digging critters). Can I overwinter the potted strawberries in our unheated garage? Our heating system is located there which probably helps keeps the garage temp reasonable unless we get an unusually long bitter cold spell (in which case I could temporarily bring the pots into the house if necessary). The garage has a window and also glass panels along the top of the garage doors and so it does get some light during the day. Unfortunately there's no way I can put the strawberries right in front of the window though... that's where the car has to go and there's no way to install a shelf because it's right where the car door opens.
Would the garage conditions be okay for overwintering the pots of strawberries? Should I expect them to drop leaves or retain them? I'd think that the garage temps will range from 25F to 50F during the winter months depending on what kind of winter we get, which is equivalent (according to the USDA planting zone maps) to them being in a Zone 9 winter. I'm just not sure whether the lack of direct sun will be an issue.
If you're in zone 7 or colder, how do you overwinter your potted strawberries?
I'm in zone 6. Last fall I dug up a bunch of berries, both alpines and regular, and left them in containers out in the open all winter (we did have a lot of snow, so they were under a cozy snow blanket during the coldest part of the winter - 10 degrees F and below). Everything perked up in the spring and i transplanted them all...the regular strawberries didn't set fruit for me this year (they're supposedly everbearers), but that's what happened with the original plants too: no berries the first year, a few the second, buckets the third.
If you happen to know the variety of strawberry, you could check if it's a hardy type or not before leaving it outdoors. But if there's room in your garage, go for it.
I usually just leave mine where they are over the winter and they come back, but then again what I have are alpine strawberries, which are used to cold (in fact they like it, most of my stawberries are ready either in the very early spring (march or so) or very late fall (I've brought fresh picked stawberries to Thanksgiving dinner several years.)