Can Strawberry plants survive frost, is a commonly asked question amongst gardeners. Strawberries can not tolerate frosts, and temperatures of 10 degrees Fahrenheit and below can easily induce serious damage to your strawberry plants by injuring the buds and blossoms.
It also reduces the overall yield of the plant. The good news, on the other hand, would be that you can still grow strawberries in winter if you take care of their temperatures, and our guide will help you figure this out easily.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- Can Strawberry Plants Survive Frost?
- How Must Strawberries Get Protected From Frost?
- How To Protect Potted Strawberry Plants from the Frost?
Can Strawberry Plants Survive Frost?
– Facing Dangers
If we go below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the chances of survival become even slimmer, almost next to none. The strawberry plant is most in danger before and during the opening of the buds. Moreover, the roots are especially sensitive as they do not penetrate deep into the ground, making them an easy target for frost.
In winter, strawberry plants enter a period of dormancy as they would protect themselves against the cold weather. They wilt and slow down their growth as preventive measures.
Thus, the actual danger is posed by the spring frost that occurs after the initial frost period is over. This is because the strawberry plants have begun to bloom, hence frost is more likely to adversely affect the delicate new blooms, and this is the effect of the frost.
It is even more threatening if the plants have been exposed to a brief warmer spell after the cold season. In this case, the sudden frost can lead to weather shock, which means damage to the plant because of quick fluctuations in temperature. It is therefore imperative to remember to not subject the strawberry plants to any such sudden changes.
– Checking for Damage
In order to check the damage that has been caused from the frost, you need to remove the plant that you want to check from the ground and cut open its crown. If it is brown or discolored in appearance, then your plant is suffering from frost damage.
Remember that strawberry plants are not hardy and will die in extreme conditions.
During the winters, strawberry plants enter a hibernating state that is known as dormancy. This includes reduced metabolism and slowed cellular processes in the plant’s body. Hence the frost can harm it, if it is left outside, and it won’t survive.
Do not trim the strawberry plant in autumn as it goes against the plant care guidelines and because the plant is usually dormant during cold months. Do not fertilize strawberries in winter, as they need extra nutrition only in the growing season, which is spring or summer.
It is characterized by a wilted appearance of leaves and slowed growth. New buds and blossoms also form less actively, and the plant in general takes on a dead look.
This phenomenon occurs as a defense mechanism against frost and cold weather conditions. It is also the reason why winter frost is relatively less threatening to strawberry plants as compared to spring frost, which occurs during the delicate budding period.
It is important to note, however, that dormancy does not mean that your plants have stopped growing. They are merely storing their energy to construct buds and stolons for the coming season.
How Must Strawberries Get Protected From Frost?
To protect strawberry from the frost so that they won’t get damaged, you must mulch around the plant, you can cover it, use a cloche. In addition, you may even over-head the irrigation process, and place the plant into cold frames.
One of the easiest and most common ways to protect your strawberry plant is to spread a layer of mulch that can comprise straw, brushwood, or pine needles, in between the rows of strawberry plants. This creates a warmer environment for the strawberry plants while still allowing space for good airflow that is necessary for plants to breathe.
One thing that you must keep in mind is that mulch should be spread after the ground has received a layer of frost. If done sooner, mulching can cause the plants to rot due to the excess heat being trapped.
In spring, the mulch can be moved between the plants after the last frost has passed. This will help in retaining moisture, will destroy weeds, and will stop the splashing of dirty irrigation water on the fruit.
If you are wondering, what should I cover my strawberry plants with, then another effective way of protecting the strawberry plants is to cover them with plant fleece or row covers.
Using plant fleece allows air and moisture thorough, that are essential for the plant. On the other hand, row covers, consisting of plastic draped over a frame, provide more security as they do not let anything except sunlight through.
You also need to protect the blossoms of strawberry plants from freezing over. For this purpose, you can scatter brushwood or straw between the rows of plants. This helps to keep the plants warm while still providing them with good airflow.
Besides this, you can also cover the strawberries with plant fleece. The plant fleece placed over the strawberries also protects them against cold, harsh winds. However, it still allows sufficient air and moisture through so that the plants do not die. Another advantage of using this technique is that it reduces fungal infections and rotting of strawberries too.
Whichever method one you choose, it is important to note that covers should envelop the plant completely and be secured to the ground. Also, they should not be removed too early due to a threat from late frost and also not too late, as they can make the plants get used to warmer conditions as compared to the outside.
– Use A Cloche
You can also protect your strawberry plants from cold damage by using a cloche. This is a rounded, bell shaped cover that helps to protect young plants from the frosty weather and keeps them warm and cozy, because strawberries can survive in summers or warmer weathers, provided the temperatures are not above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to make this shield, all you need to do is cut off the bottom of a gallon-sized milk jug and cover the plant with it, making sure that the bottom of the jug is pushed about an inch deep in the soil.
Secure it in place by tying the handle of the jug to a nearby tree or pole so that it does not blow away.
Close the lid of the jug to ensure maximum protection, but also be sure to keep providing good airflow and ventilation by frequently removing the lid during the day.
The strawberry plants should be covered at the beginning of winter, just after the first frost. On the other hand, they should be uncovered in spring after the frost period has completely ended. It is important to note that any delay in either process can result in damage to the plant.
– Overhead Irrigation
Using this method, farmers cover their entire field in a layer of ice. This method may seem a little paradoxical, but in reality, it creates a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which is beneficial for the strawberry plants as it is above the minimum temperature they can endure.
Since the temperature is maintained above 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the plants are protected from frost injury. However, water must be sprayed constantly, as too little water can prove to be more damaging than no water at all.
– Place Plants Into Cold Frames
Another simple yet effective way of frost protection your strawberry plants from frost and cold winds is by transferring them into cold frames. A cold frame is a box-shaped frame with a transparent glass roof used to protect plants from adverse weather.
You can also make your own cold frame at home, simply use thin metal rods or wire coat hangers and bend them into loops. Then, push and fix the ends of these loops into the ground on either side of your strawberry plants.
Finally, put on a piece of transparent plastic sheet over this frame and secure it in place. Be sure to allow your plants some ventilation, especially during the warmer days. Your plants will be nicely protected!
How To Protect Potted Strawberry Plants from the Frost?
You can protect them by covering them, transferring them to another pot, and moving them indoors, where the temperature will not drop easily, as it will be protected. This would be simpler because they will stop growing, and after winter, you can regrow them back.
Thus, mulching and overhead irrigation do not prove to be as effective. Although covering can be used to safeguard the strawberry plants from frost, a much more effective approach is to dig holes in the ground to place the pots in for the winter.
– Transferring the Pots
First, the plants need to be removed from their terracotta pots and transferred to plastic ones. This is because terracotta pots tend to absorb more moisture, which is dangerous as it lowers the temperature of the soil quickly.
Next, holes should be dug for each pot in which the posts are placed. The rims of the pots must be above the ground rather than buried underneath the soil.
Finally, cover the plants in a three to a four-inch deep layer of mulch that can consist of straw or pine needles. This method allows the potted strawberry plants to experience the same effects as the ground-planted ones.
– Place Indoors
Another approach can be to transfer the plants indoors to safeguard them from the frost outside.
To do this, we can utilize garage space to create warmer conditions so that the strawberry plants can thrive while being protected from the harsh conditions that are present outside.
– Regrowth After the Winter
Strawberry plants go through a period of dormancy during the winter, in which they have stunted growth and slow development. This is a temporary condition and since strawberry plants are perennial, they do grow back in the spring and summer seasons and produce a healthy harvest. Don’t forget to water them more after the frost season and give it the proper fertilizing needs.
Yet, this is only possible if the plant does not suffer from any frost damage. If so, the plant will not regrow after approximately five to eight weeks.
What happens if you don’t cover strawberries from winter frost?
Not covering strawberries during winter frost can result in damage to the plants, leading to reduced yield or even plant death. Protecting them is crucial.
Can strawberries winter over in pots?
Yes, strawberries can survive winter in pots. Place them in a sheltered area, insulate the pots, and provide occasional watering to help them endure the cold.
What do I do with my Strawberry plants at the end of winter?
At the end of winter, remove any protective coverings and inspect your strawberry plants for signs of damage. Prune dead foliage and provide proper care to encourage new growth.
Growing strawberries is a fun practice. But with this comes the question if they can survive frost.
Below is a quick summary containing the main key take away points.
- Strawberry plants cannot survive at temperatures any lower than 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
- They are more susceptible to damage at the hands of sudden spring frost as compared to winter frost, and enter a period of dormancy to protect themselves from this frost.
- The three methods of protecting ground-planted strawberries are: mulching, covering, and overhead irrigation, with overhead irrigation being the most effective.
- Strawberry plants should be pruned and fertilized in the summer months.
With basic strawberry care and using methods discussed above, you can make your strawberry plants survive frost.