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How To Tell If Bare Root Strawberries Are Dead

How To Tell If Bare Root Strawberries Are Dead

Strawberries are a popular and delicious fruit that many gardeners enjoy growing in their own backyard. One common method of planting strawberries is using bare root plants, which are dormant plants without soil around their roots. However, it can be challenging to determine if bare root strawberries are still alive or if they have perished during the planting process. In this article, we will explore several indicators that can help you determine if your bare root strawberries are dead or alive.

1. Inspect the Roots

The first step in assessing the health of your bare root strawberries is to carefully examine the roots. Healthy roots should be firm, plump, and have a creamy white or light brown color. If the roots appear mushy, slimy, or black, it is likely that the plant has died. Additionally, if the roots are dry and brittle, it may indicate that the plant has not received enough moisture and has perished.

2. Check for New Growth

Another way to determine if your bare root strawberries are alive is to look for signs of new growth. Inspect the crown of the plant, which is the area where the roots meet the stem. Healthy plants will have green, firm crowns with visible buds or shoots emerging from them. If the crown is brown, mushy, or shows no signs of growth, it is likely that the plant has died.

3. Perform a Scratch Test

A scratch test is a simple yet effective method to assess the vitality of a bare root strawberry plant. Gently scratch the surface of the stem or crown with your fingernail or a small knife. If the tissue beneath the outer layer is green and moist, it indicates that the plant is alive. However, if the tissue is brown, dry, or brittle, it suggests that the plant has perished.

4. Conduct a Watering Test

Watering your bare root strawberries can also provide valuable insights into their health. After planting, water the plants thoroughly and observe their response. If the plants start to show signs of new growth, such as the emergence of leaves or an increase in overall vigor, it indicates that they are alive. However, if there is no response or the plants continue to appear wilted and lifeless, it suggests that they may have died.

5. Monitor for Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases can significantly impact the health of your bare root strawberries. Regularly inspect the plants for any signs of infestation or disease, such as holes in the leaves, discoloration, or wilting. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is crucial to take appropriate measures to address the issue promptly. Severe pest or disease damage can lead to the death of the plant.

6. Give It Time

Patience is key when assessing the viability of bare root strawberries. Sometimes, plants may appear dead initially but can still recover given the right conditions and care. If you have followed proper planting techniques and provided adequate water, sunlight, and nutrients, give the plants some time to adjust and establish themselves. It may take several weeks for new growth to emerge, so be patient before concluding that the plants are dead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How long does it take for bare root strawberries to show signs of life?

It typically takes a few weeks for bare root strawberries to show signs of new growth. However, this can vary depending on various factors such as the plant’s health, environmental conditions, and care provided.

2. Can I revive a seemingly dead bare root strawberry plant?

In some cases, it is possible to revive a seemingly dead bare root strawberry plant. Ensure that the plant receives adequate water, sunlight, and nutrients. Additionally, consider pruning any dead or damaged parts and providing extra care to encourage new growth.

3. What are common pests and diseases that affect bare root strawberries?

Common pests that can affect bare root strawberries include aphids, slugs, and spider mites. Diseases such as powdery mildew, gray mold, and root rot can also impact the health of the plants.

4. How often should I water bare root strawberries?

Bare root strawberries require regular watering, especially during the establishment phase. Water the plants deeply once or twice a week, ensuring that the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. Adjust the frequency based on weather conditions and the moisture retention capacity of your soil.

5. Can I plant bare root strawberries directly in the ground?

Yes, bare root strawberries can be planted directly in the ground. Ensure that the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Follow proper planting techniques, such as digging a hole wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots, and gently spreading them out.

6. Are bare root strawberries more susceptible to death compared to potted plants?

Bare root strawberries can be more susceptible to death compared to potted plants due to their exposed roots. However, with proper care and attention, bare root strawberries can establish themselves successfully and thrive in your garden.


Determining the health of bare root strawberries can be challenging, but by inspecting the roots, checking for new growth, performing a scratch test, conducting a watering test, monitoring for pests and diseases, and being patient, you can assess their viability. Remember to provide the necessary care and attention to help your bare root strawberries thrive in your garden. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a bountiful harvest of delicious strawberries.