The Q&A Archives: Strawberry Leaves and Stems Turning Red

Question: First a little background: I planted Ozark Beauty and Tribute strawberries (bare root) in a planter just like your "Strawberrybush Garden". I filled the planter with Pro Mix and some compost as was recommended by the manufacturer of the tower. The plants began leafing and looked healthy. They started to flower and produce runners. I've been pinching off the flowers and the runners. I fertilized them once after they started leafing. The Question: Recently, I've noticed some of the stems and leaves turning red. They eventually dry up and die. I've been trimming off the red leaves and my once healthy, leafy plants now look pretty sparse. Do you know what's causing this? What can I do to cure it?


It sounds like you've been diligent about doing everything right, which must make it even more puzzling and disappointing! Red leaves often arise when there's a potassium deficiency in the soil, or as a symptom of the fungal disease, red stele. If you can bear to, dig out one of the affected plants and look closely at the root system. Does it look poorly developed? Has something been nibbling? If you cut one of the larger roots in half lengthwise, is the center darkened and reddish (red stele). All these clues tell that the plant hasn't been able to take up nutrients and water effectively. The solution varies with the source of the problem. Well-drained, fertile soil will reduce the possiblity of red steele, as will planting of certified disease-free stock. I hope this helps!

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