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Problems With Strawberry Plants

By Lauren Wise ; Updated September 21, 2017

Strawberry plants are an ideal addition to any garden or landscape, for their delicious fruit harvest, flourishing growth and pretty white flowers. Strawberries are also excellent with cooking, a a good source of vitamin C and low in calories. As with most fruits and vegetables, strawberry patches come with their own problems such as disease, pests and improper watering, so if you are growing strawberries it is important to keep in mind what can go wrong, and how to fix it.

Disease and Fungi

There are variety of diseases that affect the leaves, the fruit, and the roots and crown of the strawberry plant. The most common ones are root rot, slime mold and leaf spots. It is important to identify all the symptoms wrong with your plant (is there white fuzz growing on the leaves? Is there red, purple or brown spots?) and find the disease or fungi that goes with it, along with a solution. There are some easy solutions to common problems in most cases though. For example, don’t plant strawberries in a patch that has had tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplant as these are plants that commonly harbor Verticillium wilt, which is easily transferred to strawberry plants. Use disease free plants to begin with. There are also some disease resistant varieties.

Over or Under Watering

Another common problem that stunts the plant's growth or kills it is over- or under-watering. On average, strawberry plants need about 1 to 2 inches of water per week. If you live in a dry, hot or desert climate, they need around 2 to 3 inches per week. Yellowing leaves can be caused by too much water, high alkalinity or high salinity in the soil. Adjusting watering and soil testing will treat yellow leaves. Browning or red leaves can be caused by not enough water.


Insects and birds can cause lots of damage to strawberry plants, most noticeably holes in the leaves or fruit. Inexpensive netting can be placed over the bed to prevent birds from eating the fruit, and there are a large quantity of commercial and organic pesticides that can be used to control insects and other pests.