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Top Problems Growing Strawberry Plants and How to Fix Them

Strawberries are an attractive and well-yielding plant to grow in your garden. They produce a vast number of berries if cared for attentively. However, sometimes gardeners and farmers have to deal with issues when it comes to their strawberry plants.

Top problems growing strawberry plants are browning of leaves, yellowing, plant death, stunted growth, leggy-ness, leaf spot, and leaf curling, which can all be fixed through better lighting and watering, careful use of pesticides or fungicides, and using resistant species of strawberries.

To bountiful summertime harvest, you need to make sure you know what you’re doing in the garden. Read on for more information on how to fix the biggest issues in your strawberry patch.

Your Strawberry Plants Are Turning Brown

Strawberry plants are characterized by their bright berries and leaves. When the leaves on your strawberry plants dry up and turn brown, it’s a sign of problems that you will need to solve.

The biggest likelihood behind the leaves of your strawberry plant turning brown is that your plant isn’t being watered well enough. Since strawberry plants reach their peak at the beginning of summer, it’s likely that they are turning brown because they are dehydrated.

Lisa at The Practical Planter suggests that people who plant strawberries in their gardens should make it a priority to water their strawberry crops either early in the morning or late in the evening. This especially matters on hot days when the humidity is low. This is because the early and late hours are cooler than high noon, which means that the water you give your strawberries won’t simply be evaporated by the heat.

If you are growing your strawberry plants indoors, you should make sure to water them more regularly and ensure that they aren’t in an area of your home that is too hot or dry.

Your Strawberry Plants Are Turning Yellow and Dying

While strawberries are easy to grow, they can sometimes suddenly turn yellow and die. It can be quite confusing when you’re dealing with dying strawberry plants, especially when you want to harvest their fruit.

The first step you have to take to revive a dying or yellowing strawberry plant is to observe its characteristics. What signs of plant death is it showing? Is your plant wilting and becoming darker in color, or is it becoming crunchier and slowing down in production? It is important to keep a watchful eye on your strawberry plants in order to determine what the potential issue at hand might be and to help you solve the problem efficiently and effectively.

The first of a few issues your strawberry plants may be encountering is that the soil you are using is not high quality. Soil can be of poor quality for many reasons. If you are simply growing strawberry plants that you’ve bought from a grocery store or a department store, the soil is likely very low quality. To fix this issue, you will have to transplant your strawberry plants.

Transplanting strawberry plants from their original containers is generally easy. All you will have to do is fill a new, larger pot about halfway with fresh soil, place the plant in the pot, and fill in the soil around it. This new soil should preferably be local compost or new vegetable soil mix in order to give your plants the nutrients they need.

If you are using a garden bed and you haven’t refreshed your plants with fertilizer or plant food, they may be starved for nutrients. Another case scenario may be that you haven’t rotated your garden properly. In that case, you should supplement them with plant food such as Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Plant Food.

The gardeners and farmers at state that if you are planting in a garden bed and you’ve been working with the same plants for multiple years, they may simply be dying off in their natural time. This is likely the case if you have had your strawberry plants for more than five or six years. 

In this case, you should allow your strawberry plants to pass, remove them from the garden bed after the season is over, and refresh the soil in the bed to plant strawberries in the next season.

Your Strawberry Plants Aren’t Producing or Growing

Strawberries are one of the most common berry plants to be for farmers to choose for their gardens because they are so easy to grow. They are good plants for people who are bad at gardening.

Since strawberry plants are merely a fruit-bearing plant and not ornamental, it can be bothersome when your strawberry plants don’t bear fruit. To determine why your strawberry plants are not producing the bright, nutritious fruits they are so famous for, you will have to examine your plant from the soil and roots all the way to the tips of the tallest leaves.

One of the most common reasons that your strawberry plants may not be producing the number of berries you would like or that they aren’t growing the way you want them to is because your plants have been exposed to too much heat, or have had to live through a drought. The Bonnie Plant Company, one of the country’s most popular and widely available plant brands, states that heat and drought are the leading causes of berry shrinkage on strawberries.

An easy way to care for your strawberries when the weather’s hot and dry is to up their water intake. By increasing the amount of water that you give your plants, you are ensuring that they will become more hydrated, which allows the plant to produce leaves, stems, and (most importantly) berries.

It is important to maintain a steady watering schedule. As mentioned previously, you will want to water your plants either in the morning or in the evening. This will help avoid water evaporation and will make sure that your plants are able to soak it all up.

Another reason that your strawberry plants may not be producing berries or growing properly is that they have not been pollinated properly. According to Bonnie, your strawberries could be small or even deformed if they are not pollinated well. The lack of proper pollination is caused by rainy weather, which leads bees to hide in their hives and not fly around.

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If you have been experiencing a lot of rainy weather and believe that your strawberry plants may not have been properly pollinated, you have the option to pollinate your plants yourself. Here is a helpful video that shows you how to easily pollinate your own strawberry plants.

Your Strawberry Leaves Have Black, Purple, or Red Spots

As a rule of thumb, strawberry plants should have soft, somewhat fuzzy leaves. They should be a vibrant green in color and be able to withstand the elements. However, sometimes, the leaves on your strawberry plants will sometimes start to turn black. This could be because of a few different reasons.

The first reason that your strawberry plants may have spots on them is that they are being eaten by pests. Pests that enjoy eating strawberry plants, according to Western Exterminators, include aphids, mite, slugs, and weevils. All of these bugs can be prevented and deterred by using a vegetable-safe pesticide for your garden.

The second reason that the leaves on your strawberry plants might turn black is that they are caught in a case of common leaf spot. Common leaf spot is characterized by small, dark-colored spots on the leaves of plants, and strawberry plants are some of the ones that are the most vulnerable to this infection. These spots on the leaves can look anywhere from a dark red color to eggplant purple, to black.

According to the researchers at the Wisconsin Horticulture Division of Extension, common leaf spot is blown into strawberry patches by the wind from other plants and is spread most easily through watering and periods of rain. They suggest watering the plants exclusively from the roots, as this is a great way to prevent the spread of waterborne fungi that can affect your strawberries.

There is both good and bad news when it comes to diagnosing your garden with a case of leaf spot. The bad news is that leaf spot isn’t curable. Because the spots on the plant are dead, there is no way to fix them. Once a plant’s leaves have died, they cannot be rehydrated or brought back to life.

The good news is that there are ways to preemptively prevent common leaf spot from happening. The easiest way to prevent leaf spot from occurring is to plant a leaf spot-resistant species of strawberries or to purchase seedlings that were grown from resistant seeds. Wisconsin Horticulture recommends varieties such as “Crimson King” and “Ozark Beauty.”

If you have already planted seeds that are not leaf spot-resistant and you suspect that your garden may have a case of common leaf spot, you can apply a fungicide in the hopes of mitigating the spread. When the plants are dry, remove the offending leaves (as long as it won’t kill the rest of the plant). From here, you can either dust or mist the plants with a fungicide such as Trifecta Ready-To-Use Crop Control Spray

Your Strawberry Plants Are “Leggy”

Strawberry plants are generally bushy and ample, with stems and leaves that spread out in all directions. They are a great way to fill space in your garden because they grow quickly and even grow long, small threads with new plants on the ends of them. However, when you are growing strawberries, you will often encounter plants that are “leggy.”

In this context, “leggy-ness” indicates that a plant is tall and thin with leaves that are sparse. Leggy-ness often appears early in the lifetime of a plant when it is first being started; however, leggy-ness may also appear when the plant becomes older.

If you are dealing with leggy seedlings, it is most definitely because of the growing conditions. To grow seedlings that are strong and hardy, you have to make sure they have a healthy amount of light. For strawberries, this means allowing them bright light as they begin their lives.

When plants are started in low light conditions, they stretch themselves up as tall as they can to get themselves closer to the light. And to conserve energy and resources, they grow themselves as thin and as sparse as possible in order to get close to the light. If you want plants that will grow big and strong, they need plenty of light.

If you are starting your strawberry plants in an area that has minimal light, you will most definitely need a grow lamp. Grow lamps are helpful because they allow you to concentrate the amount of light as well as the kind of light right at the perfect angle and distance from your plants. Many grow lamps have timers on them to make sure they get the right ratio of light to dark each day without you having to worry about turning the grow light on and off.

There are a few different options for grow lamps, all depending on your budget and on how many strawberry plants you wish to grow. 

For people who are amateur growers and only have a few seedlings starting, you should choose a smaller lamp like this Relassy Full Spectrum Grow Lamp. What’s nice about this style of grow lamp is that it only takes up as much space as a small table lamp and has an adjustable gooseneck stem that you can move around to fit different shapes and sizes of seedlings.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on June 16, 2020.

If you have a larger growing operation and want to start a whole crop of strawberry plants, you should go for a larger growing unit. This MARS HYDRO Grow Light covers up to sixteen square feet of seedlings and suspends from the ceiling, which means you have more room to work on the growing table and spread your plants out. This video will show you a few other techniques as well that will help you grow your seedlings out of their leggy stage.

If you’re growing your plants outdoors and they are becoming leggy, this means that they either don’t have enough light, or they don’t have the right temperature to grow at. With strawberries, this likely means that they have been planted too early. Strawberry plants should be planted after the last frost of spring and tend to fruit during the warmer days of June. If your seedlings have been planted too early, they may be struggling to survive.

To warm up plants that have become leggy outdoors, you have a couple of options. The first option is to relocate them to a warmer spot in your garden. This means putting them in more direct sunlight and getting them out of potential shade. You should also make sure that the soil you are using is breathable and not too heavy.

Your Strawberry Leaves Are Curling

If you notice that the leaves on your strawberry plants are starting to curl, this is a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. When leaves curl and don’t just dry up, this likely means that you are going to have to deal with a fungal infection.

When the leaves on your strawberry plants curl, your plants most likely have a case of leaf scorch. According to the Integrated Pest Management Program out of the University of Connecticut (CT IPM), leaf scorch can present itself as the curling of leaves accompanied by splotches that are on the same color spectrum as those caused by common leaf spot. The colors associated with both of these fungal infections are red, purple, and black.

According to CT IPM, one of the best ways to prevent a fungal infection like leaf scorch from happening is to make sure that healthy plant has enough “breathing room,” meaning that the wind and air can circulate throughout the crop or patch that you’ve planted the strawberry plants in. They also suggest, as with plants that go through a case of common leaf spot, that you water your plants only at the roots instead of from overhead in order to prevent spread. 

Final Thoughts

Strawberry plants can be exciting and rewarding to grow. Their berries are both tart and sweet with high nutrient content. They are commonly used in drinks and desserts and are enjoyed by people of all ages.

Even though they are generally easy to grow, gardeners and farmers often encounter problems such as discoloration, poor growth, or pests. While these issues may seem daunting, they can actually be solved with easy solutions such as better lighting or watering and application of pesticides or fungicides.

Strawberries are one of the most commonly grown plants in the country for a reason – they have a high yield-to-effort ratio and can make a great addition to any family garden or commercial crop. I hope these tips help. Happy picking!

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