How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Phytophthora root and crown rot (Red stele) on strawberries—Phytophthora spp.

Phytophthora root and crown rot may appear anytime during the season, and is first seen as stunted growth or wilted young leaves. Wilting spreads to the rest of the plant and some leaves may turn reddish. Crown tissue is discolored brown or reddish brown. Wilted plants eventually collapse and die. Stunted plants usually remain stunted for the rest of the season.


Phytophthora crown rot can be distinguished from other diseases by the appearance of crown tissue discoloration and decay. The decay usually starts at one point on the crown and spreads around the crown until the entire plant is girdled. The roots may remain healthy. If the diseased crown is sliced open, the affected area appears water soaked and uniformly brown; the discoloration is not confined to the vascular tissue.


Root and crown rots tend to become problems when planting beds remain wet for prolonged periods. This is most likely to occur in heavy soils or if planting beds are watered excessively or too frequently. Root and crown rot can be minimized or avoided by preparing raised beds with well-drained soil, providing good drainage away from planting beds during rainy weather, avoiding overwatering, and replacing plantings every few years. Where the disease has developed, soil treatments including solarization can be used to reduce Phytophthora levels before replanting strawberries.

For more information, see the Phytophthora Root and Crown Rot Pest Note.

Brown discoloration of crown tissue
Brown discoloration of crown tissue

Discolored and wilted strawberry plant
Discolored and wilted strawberry plant

Healthy (left) and infected (right) plants
Healthy (left) and infected (right) plants

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
All contents copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

Accessibility   Contact webmaster.