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Q: How to Care for Bare-Root Strawberry Plants?
On December 30, 2010, Andi asked:
I just found your very useful site. I had ordered 25 bare root strawberry plants and it was too late to plant so I have tried growing them in my house and it’s not working out so well. First I had them in an indoor greenhouse (meaning 4 tier shelves covered in greenhouse plastic located in my home). I put them in a potting soil from Bar Harbor Maine. After a few weeks there was some signs of life but also mold so I took them out of the plastic. A month later the potting soil never dried out (and I never watered) so I repotted them w/half peat and half of the potting mix and put them under fluorescent lights. They’re not happy. There are no signs of life. I’m keeping the roots damp but not too wet. I’m thinking I should put plastic back on top of them to see if I can get growth again and watch for mold (now that I have them in a medium that doesn’t remain wet for weeks at a time w/o watering). Do you think I should just quit trying and stop giving them light and repot again- this time taking out the potting soil and just using peat?
thanks for the help
Answer to: How to Care for Bare-Root Strawberry Plants?
As discussed on the Strawberry Plant page, there are a lot of pathogens that can decimate a strawberry planting. From your description, my guess is that the strawberry plants you purchased are dead. Likely, they have either succumbed to root rot or crown rot from being water-logged, a mold/fungus, trauma from being moved and re-potted, or a combination of those factors. Also, fluorescent lights have to be positioned correctly to provide enough light to stimulate chloroplasts and plant growth. It may be that adjusting your light source might help, but my opinion is that the plants are either dead or too compromised to produce well. I’d recommend starting over with new plants this spring.
If you do purchase fall strawberry plants again in the future (which is a good idea!), as long as the soil isn't yet frozen, it is usually better to go ahead and plant them. If you have selected an appropriate plot and protected them, they should break dormancy with the rising temperatures in the spring and start growing right away. Indoor plantings are tricky due to mold, light issues (strawberries prefer full sun), and water drainage. But, don't be discouraged! Try again this spring!
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