The Q&A Archives: Shriveling leaves on Wild Strawberry plants

Question: Wild stawberries are different than the regular strawberry plants. I love them but something is attacking them. The leaves that are normally soft and about 2 - 3 inches across are getting shriveled up and maybe 3/4 to 1 inch across. It seems to stunting the growth of the whole plant. The nurseries have said it was spider mites. I've tried spraying with garlic and with summer domant spray. Some of the plant's leaves turned red after the dormant spray and it seemed to scar them or burn them. But the problem is still spreading. Could it be that they are attacking the roots? Any advice you can give would be appreciated. I really don't want to lose them.

Answer: Without seeing the problem, it's just a guess, but strawberry leaves can have insect problems as well as disease problems. If the plants really are infested with spider mites, you'll be able to see the tiny insects on the undersides of the leaves. Spider mites leave a tell-tale sign; if you find webbing between the leaf and the stem, spider mites are the probable enemy. If you don't see webbing, or the tiny insects (look closely with a magnifying glass), then the problem might be in the crown of the plant, or in the roots. Dig up one of the affected plants, including roots and soil, and carefully inspect for insects such as root weevils (small brown fellas), or grubs (usually fat white worm like guys). While you're at it, check to make sure the roots are creamy white inside (break a few in half to look). By digging and inspecting the plant you'll be able to zero in on the problem. Then ask for advice from your local Cooperative Extension office: 2615 S. Grand Ave. Suite 400, Los Angeles 90007 (213) 744-4851.

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