Strawberries that have been overwatered can be saved with mulch, sun and a balanced liquid fertilizer. Strawberry plants growing in the ground can be saved with a 3 inch layer of straw or sugar cane mulch. Potted strawberries can recover with a dose of liquid fertilizer.
Overwatered strawberries will often have yellow leaves as the nitrogen is washed out of the soil. The extra water can also reduce the amount of oxygen in the soil and cause it to become anaerobic and grow mold.
Here are my top tips to tell if you strawberry plant is overwatered and how to solve this problem for potted and in-ground strawberry plants.
Top 6 steps to save an overwatered strawberry plant
Here are my top 6 steps to save an overwatered strawberry plant at home.
1. Mulch with straw or sugar cane
The first step to take to save an overwatered strawberry plant in the ground is to add mulch. Adding a 3 inch layer of dry straw or sugar cane mulch on the soil can actually help to regulate the moisture level. The mulch can absorb and release the extra water gradually over the time.
2. Reduce your watering schedule
Reducing the amount of water given to your strawberry, particularly over winter is important to save it. Only give your strawberries more water when the surface of the soil is dry. This may only be around every 4 weeks over winter. Mulch will help to regulate the amount of water reaching the soil.
3. Give them a dose of liquid fertilizer
To help strawberries recover from overwatering give them a dilute dose of liquid fertilizer containing nitrogen. I like to use fish emulsion but you could use any balanced liquid fertilizer including those made for vegetables.
4. Slow release balanced organic fertilizer
Add some slow release organic fertilizer to your strawberry 2 weeks after adding some dilute liquid fertilizer. This will help to feed the plant over the next few months and give it a gentle dose of nitrogen to help the leaves to recover and stay green.
5. Move pots to a sunny spot
6. Repot very damaged plants
Repot very damaged strawberry plants with new potting soil. Use a premium potting soil to add back nutrients and make sure the soil is aerated. Trim off damaged leaves and stems to tidy up the plant and mulch the plant with straw.
The new soil will be full of air and nutrients and over the next 2 months or when the weather warms in spring you should see new leaves appear.
How to tell if strawberries are overwatered
There are 3 signs that can show that a strawberry plant is being overwatered. Yellowing leaves, wet and soggy soil or mold are the top signs that strawberries are overwatered.
Yellowing leaves can show that strawberry plants are getting too much water. The extra water can draw out the water soluble nitrogen that is needed for the plant to develop green leaves. Wet soil can also lack oxygen and the roots can rot.
This stops the plant from absorbing nutrients and the leaves to turn yellow.
When the surface of the soil is very wet all of the time this is a good sign the plant is being overwatered. This paired with drooping and yellowing leaves is a sure sign that the strawberry plant is getting too much water.
Wet soil can ruin the balance of soil bacteria and discourage worms from visiting. While strawberries like moisture, when the soil it too wet it can make it difficult for the plant to absorb the nutrients it needs due to damaged roots.
Mold on the soil
The final sign that a strawberry plan is getting too much water is mold forming on the surface of the soil. Green or white mold is a sign that the soil is very wet. Mushrooms or toadstools can also grow up from the soil when the strawberries are getting too much water.
While these molds and fungi are not a problem in themselves, they can be a sign of overwatered. These mushrooms can grow rapidly after heavy rain when the soil is very wet.
What happens to overwatered strawberries
Overwatered strawberries can run out of oxygen in the soil and lack nitrogen turning their leaves yellow. Soil bacterial balance can suffer and worms will disappear when the moisture levels are too high.
Overwatered strawberries will eventually die. This usually starts with drooping leaves, which then turn yellow and brown. The crown of the strawberry can rot and the roots will suffer damage.
How much water to give to strawberries
Strawberries like regular water so a basic guide is to water them every 3-4 days in the middle of summer, every week in spring and fall and every 3-4 weeks in winter.
Check the soil moisture level around 2 inches down to see if it need smore water. If the soil dry water the plant deeply and make sure the mulch is 2-3 inches deep.
How to save overwatered strawberries | Summary
Save overwatered strawberries by repotting very damaged plants with new potting soil, surround plants with straw and give them a dose of dilute liquid fertilizer. Add some slow release pelleted chicken manure and put the plant in a sunny spot.
Strawberry plants are a great way to introduce kids to homegrown fruit and they reproduce easily so you can get lots of plants for free.