Strawberries, as we know them today, are a hybrid between two species of Strawberries found in North America and Chile. There are over 103 distinct species of Strawberries in the world.
The addition of a Strawberry plant to your in-home garden will produce delicious summer treats. However, it’s not easy to grow and care for Strawberry plants.
The most common concern for new plant owners is of Strawberry leaves turning brown.
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Why Are My Strawberry Leaves Turning Brown?
There are several reasons why your Strawberry leaves turn brown. The most common amongst these is improper watering. Since most Strawberries yield fruit near summer, browning is often associated with dehydration. Additionally, the leaves may be becoming brown because of diseases and pests like scorching, spotting, blight, and nematodes.
What Causes Strawberry Leaves to Turn Brown?
Leaf spot: leaf spotting (Mycosphaerella fragariae) is a common fungal disease whose appearance is similar to leaf scorching. At first, leaf spots appear purple with a whitish center.
The cause of leaf spotting is associated with the cold-resistant strain from the previous year’s infected crop.
The disease resides in the soil and can affect all surround plants. To overcome leaf spot issues for good, you can purchase specific Strawberry species resistant to the disease.
Leaf scorching: leaf scorching (Iplocarpon earlianais) is the most common disease found in Strawberry plants across the U.S. Leaf scorching manifests as purplish spots that overtime combines together to become reddish or brownish spots.
As the disease progresses, the leaf will rapidly turn brown and eventually die. Some plants are infected with leaf scorching prior to purchase.
Inspect the plant before you buy it to ensure you are making the right purchase.
Leaf blight: leaf blight is one of many fungal diseases which affect Strawberry plants. A plant affected by leaf blight (Dendrophoma obscurans) will have tiny black spots which increase in size as time passes.
Eventually, the black spots turn into circular or wedge-shaped brown marks with red-purplish borders.
Powdery mildew: This is caused by a fungus named Podosphaera aphanisis. This fungus attacks not only the leaves but also the flowers and fruit of Strawberry plants.
The first appearances of powdery mildew are as fluffy white patches on the leaves that eventually turn red and purple and finally appear as brown blotches.
Nematodes are roundworms that are very small and slender in appearance. However, one shouldn’t be fooled by its appearance as it can cause significant damage to your plant if they grow in number.
If your plant is infected by nematodes, you will notice signs of yellow or brown leaves. Leaf discoloration is also accompanied by stunted growth.
Providing the necessary amount of fertilizer and adequate conditions for your Strawberry plant to thrive isn’t always enough.
There are still times when you will encounter problems with browning leaves.
In this case, the most probable outcome is not watering your plants enough. Strawberry plants become easily dehydrated during summer. Insufficient watering can lead to browning.
On the other hand, over-watering can also cause your Strawberry leaves to turn brown. Waterlogging in the soil is a sign of over-watering.
The most common reason for browning leaves is nitrogen deficiency. Browning occurs due to a lack of chloroplast, which results in reduced synthesis of chlorophyll (green pigment). Other signs associated with deficiency of nitrogen include stunted growth.
Prevention and Treatment for Strawberry Leaves Turning Brown
The most common cause of leaf scorch is the inability of plants to take up enough moisture from the soil in winter. To prevent the spread onto healthy plants, clear the soil of any infected debris, and re-pot your plant into another pot.
Keep the plant hydrated.
Leaf blight cannot be treated 100%; however, its spread can be slowed by using fungicides. When using a fungicide for your Strawberry plants, choose one with copper, captan, and myclobutanil as active ingredients.
Leaf spotting is spread by air and excessive moisture. Hence you can prevent leaf spotting by improving soil drainage and allowing adequate circulation by leaving space between your pots.
You can treat leaf spotting organically by using a spraying mixture of half a teaspoon of baking soda in one gallon of water. Alternatively, you can use fungicides.
However hard you try, there will come a time when you will need to discard the plant affected by leaf spot. You can prevent the spread of leaf spotting by isolating the infected pot from the healthy plants.
There are 6 layers in the soil, and nematodes are spread throughout all of them. However, the plant-destroying varieties of nematodes are found on the topmost layers.
To get rid of nematodes in a small quantity of soil, heat your soil to 140°F (60°C) in the oven. You should bake your soil for the same time as it takes to bake a medium-sized potato.
To get rid of the remaining nematodes, expose them to cold and dry winds.
Acidic soil with a pH less than 4 will significantly reduce the uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from the ground.
You can prevent nitrogen deficiency from occurring by regularly sending your soil for analysis. But if you want to overcome the problem at hand, you can opt for either an organic or non-organic NPK fertilizer.
The best fertilizers are those containing nitrate or ammonium.
Frequently Asked Questions about Strawberry Leaves Turning Brown
What time is best to water my Strawberry plant to prevent browning?
When it’s hot outside, the best time to water your Strawberry plant is before 10 am and after 5 pm. This will ensure that all the water doesn’t get evaporated.
What are some spot-resistant varieties of Strawberries?
Crimson King, Ogallala, Glooscap, Earliglow, and Ozark Beauty are some of the few spot-resistant varieties of Strawberries that you can plant.
What soil pH is ideal in preventing nitrogen deficiency causing browning in Strawberry plants?
Strawberries thrive best in soil with a pH range between 5.3 to 6.5.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.