The Q&A Archives: Neglected Strawberry Starts

Question: I bought some strawberry plants from the local garden store, which appeared to be doing quite well. The ground where I wanted to plant them wasn't ready yet, so they spent some time on the south porch in full sun all day. I had asked my children to keep them watered until I could get them in the ground, but they suffered considerable neglect, drying severely. There is still some green left; is there any hope of saving them?

Answer: You can try, though they won't have much time to get their feet under them before winter arrives, so they may not survive. Before you plant, put them in a bucket of water for a while to rehydrate them. Trim off any truly dead leaves and root hairs, and plant them in a rich soil. Water them in well, mulch around them and see what happens. They are amazingly hardy plants! If they send out new growth, you can help get them going by spritzing the leaves with foliar fertilizers, such as seaweed and kelp extract. These strawberries may not produce fruit for you next year because of the stress they've felt, but you can plant new ones among them next spring. Strawberries are best planted as soon as you can work the ground in spring. Best of luck!

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