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Why are my strawberry plants dying?

Val Bourne / 10 April 2019

A reader questions why her young strawberry plants are dying.

Strawberry plants

Question: my strawberries are dying

My strawberry plants seem to be dying, even though the plants are only a year old. Could this be a disease, or poor conditions?


I suspect this has a lot to do with last year’s cold spring, followed by an exceptionally dry and hot summer. Newly planted strawberry plants need watering for several weeks, straight after planting, to encourage good root systems. A drip system is best because copious amounts of water, liberally tipped over strawberry plants, can rot the crown. Ants can also disturb the roots and they can kill off the odd plant.

The other suspect is verticillium wilt, a soil-borne fungus that lingers in the ground. Young strawberry plants are more susceptible, but wilt can also be transferred from potatoes, chrysanthemums and tomatoes so keep these plants well away from strawberry beds. Vine weevil also eat the soft stems, although you should be able to find grubs in the ground if that’s the case.

Don’t be put off though. Invest in some disease-resistant strawberry plants and put them in a different place. Use certified virus-free stock from a reputable nursery (such as Pomona Fruits - because strawberries also succumb to several viruses. Pomona recommend a late, exceptionally disease-resistant variety called ‘Cupid’, as well as ‘Christine’ and ‘Fenella’.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.