Growing Strawberries - Part 4:
Death, Cold Injury, or Hibernation?

I am concerned. Every time I look at my plants they seem to be looking more dead.


In the first part of this series, growing strawberries, I decided what containers to grow them in and what compost I would use. Once they arrived I wrote a follow-up about planting the plants.

In the third part, I posted an update 6 days after planting where they seemed to be doing OK. More images are available in the Strawberry Plant Photos image gallery.

In this fourth part I am going to take a look at the plants, and how sickly they are looking. Did I do something wrong? Did I not do something? Did I kill them?

Cold Weather

We're now passed the first frost, and the only plants that don't seem to be affected by whatever is making the other plants look deathly are the ever-bearers in the top planter (which, ironically, looked the most dead on arrival).

The problem with plants that go dormant in cold weather is that it is hard to know whether they are OK until the weather warms up again.

It isn't just the frosts we've had, however. There have been long periods of fog and mist. It has been raining a lot. Now we also have cold, strong winds.

I just haven't grown strawberries from bare root before, so I don't know what a first season looks like. All I do know is that I haven't seen strawberry plant leaves go floppy before.

The Cultivars

It is probably best to take a look at the cultivars, since one lot seem to be doing a lot better than the others.

Florence Cambridge Favourite Flamenco
Vigour Moderate High Moderate-High
Powdery Mildew Moderate Resistance Good Resistance Susceptible
Verticillium Wilt Good Resistance Good Resistance Unknown
Crown Rot Good Resistance Unknown Unknown
Botrytis Unknown Good Resistance Unknown
Red Core Unknown Unknown Unknown
Vine Weevil Some Tolerance Susceptible Unknown
Red Spider Mite Unknown Susceptible Unknown

Using various sources I have tried to fill in this table. For the time being I will treat an unknown categorisation as a susceptible categorisation.

Flamenco are not affected, so powdery mildew can be ruled out.

As for everything else, I am left with the possibility of red core, vine weevil, or red spider mite.

Other Possibilities

There are, of course, other possibilities. I am going to now go through the list from Wilting Strawberry Plants one by one.


Although the bottom two containers did need watering at one point, the soil wasn't completely dry.

I don't think drought can be the cause, especially since I was checking soil moisture every 3 days.

Low Temperatures

We've had some of them. I am hoping that this is what it is and that it hasn't been too harsh on the plants.

High Salinity

The middle and bottom containers have been watered with tap water twice, whereas the top container has only been watered with tap water once.

According to the local water company, my area is a hard water area, with most of that coming from calcium (negligible magnesium). The water isn't salty.

Saturated Soil

The soil has good drainage.

It can't be too much water—the top plants have received a lot more and they are fine.


Fungus, bacteria, insects and/or mites?

This is an unknown, however the Florence are affected and they are advertised as being resistant to a lot of things.

Winter Dormancy

I might just be worrying about nothing.

The one thing I do know: I am not dissecting the crown of a plant just to find out if it was OK or not.

Dissecting a strawberry crown is like dissecting a human brain—if it wasn't dead before dissection it certainly will be afterwards.

Here's hoping those affected plants are just going into a dormancy phase and will come back next year.