Strawberry leaves turning brown is caused by many different reasons such as improper watering, nutrient deficiencies, diseases, and pests. It can be alarming to see that the once healthy green leaves have changed their color to brown leaves, but worry not.
In this complete guide, we list all the common reasons why this is happening, as well as outline all the tried and tested solutions to solve these problems and prevent them from happening again. Continue reading to learn all of these solutions and apply them before it’s too late!
- What Are the Possible Reasons Why Strawberry Leaves Turning Brown?
- What Are the Tried and Tested Solutions for Strawberry Plant Browning Problems?
What Are the Possible Reasons Why Strawberry Leaves Turning Brown?
Strawberry leaves turn brown because of several reasons such as inadequate or inconsistent watering issues, nutrient deficiencies, diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew, and even pests. Each of these reasons will be discussed below.
– Improper Watering
One of the most frequent causes of browning plant leaves of strawberries is inadequate or inconsistent watering. The leaves will most likely turn brown even if the seeds are sown at the right time of year and given a suitable fertilizer if the watering is improper.
There are only two possible issues with water: underwatering and overwatering. Given that strawberry plants are susceptible to dehydration, especially during the summer season, browning may happen if the plant does not receive enough water or if it is receiving too much.
Aside from the browning of its leaves, another indication that you are falling short in providing your plants’ water needs can be determined by checking the soil. If it feels dry in between the watering sessions, it means you are not watering your plants adequately.
On the other hand, you are probably watering your plants too much if the soil is frequently soggy or waterlogged. The soil should ideally be moist, but neither excessively wet nor dry.
– Nutrient Deficiencies
Another common reason for the browning of strawberry leaves is if the soil has a nutrient deficiency, specifically a nitrogen deficiency. Given that nitrogen directly affects the chloroplasts, which house the chlorophyll or green pigment, a low nitrogen supply equates to less green pigment.
The leaves may begin turning yellow or brown at this point. This typically happens in overplanted areas, and it makes sense that not all of the plants get the nutrition they need. Another indicator of nitrogen deficiency in a plant is stunted growth.
Below are specific plant diseases and pests that attack strawberry plants, which include those causing the leaves to become brown as one of the visible damages.
– Leaf Spot
It is one of the typical plant fungal diseases that make the leaves develop a whitish core and purple or gray areas. What is worrying about this disease is that it can potentially infect all strawberry plants nearby and any other plants because the pathogen resides in the soil.
A more serious problem that may cause the leaves turning yellow for a strawberry plant to eventually turn brown is diseases and pests. An infestation must be identified as early as possible before it spreads and causes irreparable damage to the plant.
– Leaf Blight
Another disease caused by a fungus is known as leaf blight. It can be easily identified because a plant with this disease has stunted growth and will start to have small black spots that will get bigger over time. This will cause strawberry leaves to have brown spots or patches with reddish-purple borders.
– Leaf Scorch
Also known as diplocarpon earlianis in the United States, leaf scorch is believed to be the most common disease that affects strawberry plants. What is even worse is that it can also affect other parts of the plant, not just the leaves.
A plant with leaf scorch can be identified if the leaves manifest patches that are either purple or yellow. Over time, the leaves will turn a reddish or brownish color as the disease worsens, and eventually, the leaves will all die and fall off.
The main cause of this disease is the plant’s inability to absorb moisture from the soil, especially during winter. This results in the leaves and other parts of the plant appearing as if they are slowly being torched, hence the name. Some may even ask “Why are my strawberry leaves turning brown and crispy?” One of the probable reasons is this disease.
– Verticillium Wilt
This disease is mainly caused by the fungi Verticillium dahliae and V. albo-atrum, which are both soil-borne. Hence, they can affect many varieties of plants in the garden, not just strawberries. Although strawberry plants are the most frequently affected, especially in their first year, certain varieties are resistant to this disease.
These fungi invade the roots of the plants and spread upward in the tissues responsible for providing water to the rest of the plant. This results in wilting of the upper section of the plants due to a lack of water.
The manifestation of this disease can be seen at the root and crown of the plant, as well as the browning on the edges of the leaves. Wilting commonly occurs during spring through September.
– Powdery Mildew
This disease is believed to be caused by the fungus Podosphaera aphanisi. It can infect all parts of the plants, not just the leaves but the fruits and flowers too.
You will know that your plant has powdery mildew if the leaves have fluffy white patches that will later develop into red and then purple before turning into brown blotches. The fungal development is usually at the bottom of the leaf and can be so thick and numerous that it can cover the entire leaf surface.
Areas with low light and a warm, humid environment are the ideal conditions for powdery mildew. Thus, they are common in plants that are grown in greenhouses rather than those in gardens.
Typically, the fungus comes from contaminated plants transferred from a greenhouse, but in some cases, there are wild strawberries that have them. This disease typically starts to spread during the mid to late summer when the cooler evenings have high humidity.
Nematodes are roundworms that, at first glance, may seem very small and harmless, but as they continue to grow, they can pose a serious threat to your strawberry plant. Yellowing or browning of the leaves, together with the plant’s onset of reduced growth, are symptoms of nematode infection in plants.
What Are the Tried and Tested Solutions for Strawberry Plant Browning Problems?
Making sure you have an excellent watering routine in place, occasionally feeding your strawberry plants with fertilizer, and taking steps to protect them from pests and various diseases are some sure-fire ways to prevent strawberry leaves from browning.
To nurse back your beloved plant to health, below are the specific ways to treat and prevent these problems from affecting your plant again.
– Improper Watering Regimen
Watering is crucial for strawberries, and knowing when and how to water your plants is just as important. It is suggested that during the hotter months, it is best to water your plants before 10 in the morning or after 5 in the afternoon. This keeps the water from evaporating and ensures that your plant gets enough water.
– Nutrient Deficiencies
The most effective solution to this is to invest in high-quality fertilizer so that the soil will be replenished with all the right nutrients that your plant needs in order to grow healthy.
Both organic and non-organic NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) fertilizers will work well in addressing this problem, but the best fertilizers are those with nitrate or ammonium.
– Fungal Infections
This section contains a general solution guide for various fungal infections such as strawberry leaf spot, strawberry leaf blight, and strawberry leaf scorch.
Since all of these three diseases are caused by fungi, the best solution applies to all of them. It is critical to improve the airflow around plants because fungi grow in moist environments.
This can be accomplished by removing weeds and fallen leaves or even the leaves with brown tips. Planting the strawberries in beds or rows that are just 12 to 18 inches wide is also recommended. The gap must be maintained as the patches grow over time. Therefore, the patches need to be adjusted as needed.
Furthermore, it’s best to water plants in the morning, especially if it’s sunny outside, so that the moisture will be absorbed by the plants and won’t cause them to become muggy later in the day.
Avoid fertilizer applications that contain nitrogen in the early spring, as this will promote excessive growth, restrict airflow, and provide a moist microclimate that is conducive to the formation of fungal diseases.
Another thing you should be aware of is that certain plants may already be infected when you acquire them, so it’s better to thoroughly inspect them before buying and putting them in your garden.
– Verticillium Wilt
Fumigation of the soil is the best-known method for controlling this disease. It is done by using soil fungicides like a mixture of methyl bromide and cholorpicrin to smoke out the fungi. This can also be utilized as a preventative measure by doing pre-plant fumigation.
When choosing where to plant your strawberries, avoid fields with a measurable level of pathogens. Instead, choose a field that is isolated from the existing growing regions. It is also advisable to do crop rotation with broccoli throughout the warm seasons of the year.
– Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew can be controlled with a variety of fungicides. Pick items with myclobutanil, sulfur, potassium bicarbonate, or horticultural oil as an active component. Follow the directions on the label while applying these fertilizers, especially since this will be done multiple times as long as the disease exists.
The area can also be fumigated to efficiently control these worms, and the best time to do this task is just before planting. Thus, it is always a good idea to do a soil check before proceeding to plant your precious strawberries.
If only a small portion of the soil is affected, you can make sure that the nematodes are killed by baking the soil at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Other methods include soil solarization, crop rotation, and fallowing. However, the top foot or so of soil is the most affected as this is where nematodes are present, so be aware that these methods only last for about a year.
The presence of browning on the leaves is an early indication that there is something wrong with your strawberry plant. Now that you have read our complete guide, it is relatively easier to understand why this is happening to the plant and how to solve it.
Let us summarize what we have learned:
- The most common reasons why strawberry plants have brown leaves (sometimes starting from yellow leaves) are improper watering, nutrient deficiencies, diseases, and pests.
- To keep your plant hydrated, it is best to water the plant before 10 am and after 5 pm, especially during hotter days, to make sure the plant absorbs all the water it needs and does not lack water due to evaporation.
- Organic and non-organic fertilizers can be applied to ensure that the soil has all the nutrients that are needed by the plant. Ideal fertilizers are those that contain nitrate or ammonium.
- Fungi thrive in humid environments, so proper ventilation is essential. Once there is an infection, fungicide is an effective solution to get rid of it.
- With nematodes or roundworms, the best solution is to fumigate the soil.
After what we have discussed, you are now better equipped to take care of your plants and harvest delicious strawberries in no time!
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