Oh no! Your strawberry plants are wilted, are not producing, and the leaves look burned. It’s too hot for your strawberries. The preferred temperature range of strawberry plants is 60-85 degrees.
They can tolerate up to 100 degrees on occasion but what can you do to protect your strawberries from prolonged extreme heat?
The number one way to beat the heat is shade. Create shade for your strawberries using a 50%-65% shade cloth all day in extreme heat. If you expect climactic high heat, like summers in zones 9 and 10, consider planting your strawberry patch in an area that receives regular afternoon shade such as the south side of a tree.
Choose heat-tolerant varieties. Strawberries are historically a temperate zone crop, but some varieties have been bred and adapted to growing in warmer climates. One such cultivar called Alexandria is happy in shade and tolerates high temperatures so you can take advantage of two types of heat protection.
Growing your strawberries in containers offers a lot of flexibility. Place the containers in full sun when the weather is cooler to encourage fruiting and bring them into the shade when temperatures rise. Containers also offer better airflow and allow the soil to cool more quickly.
Cover soil loosely with straw or pine needles and water only when the straw is dry to prevent slug infestation. A light, reflective mulch allows air to flow freely, keeps the berries off the mud, and keeps the soil cool and moist.
Plant in fall if you live in a predictably hot climate. Harvest will occur during winter when temperatures are more manageable. Strawberries planted in spring with a hot summer ahead will almost certainly fail to produce.
Take advantage of microclimates in your garden. Sites near a pond, near the edge of a woodland, or under the shade of taller garden plants are cooler areas that can protect your strawberries.
Watering the “wrong way” can harm plants but a few guidelines can help you to water your strawberries safely.
- Water deeply – The heat will speed up evaporation from the top few inches of soil. Water deeply to ensure your strawberries will have access to water when they most need it.
- Water early or late – Do not water your strawberries when the sun is most intense: between 10 AM and 4 PM. Ideally, water your plants early in the day when the soil has cooled overnight and the roots are most receptive to water uptake.
- Don’t overwater – You may be tempted to overwater your strawberry patch when it’s hot out, but resist the urge! Overwatering is just as dangerous as underwatering and opens your plants up to a slew of diseases and pests.
Don’t fertilize your strawberries when temperatures are too high. The plants’ ability to absorb nutrients will decrease in high temperatures so fertilizer salts will collect in the soil. Too many salts in the soil will also diminish their ability to absorb water. Water is especially important for your strawberry plant to survive a heatwave.
You can grow strawberries successfully in high heat if you are careful and give them a little extra consideration. Try these 8 tips to save your strawberry crop this year.