Who doesn’t like strawberries? Strawberries are nothing less than a staple fruit in summers, with their cultivation going on across the globe to meet their ever-growing demand.
In brief, the strawberries you relish today are the hybrid between the berries grown in North America and Chile. Moreover, there are over 103 species of strawberries across the world.
Now, whenever a strawberry plant comes to your senses, how would you visualize it? Are its bright red berries hanging from emerald green leaves?
Yes, these two are the critical characteristics of a healthy strawberry plant. However, due to some reasons, your plant may start turning brown, and that’s a painful area of concern as it indicates something isn’t good about the plant.
In this article, I’ll discuss the primary reasons behind the browning of the strawberry plant leaves, its remedies, and much more. So, let’s start.
Why are strawberry plant leaves turning brown?
So, your strawberry plant leaves are turning brown, and you can’t figure out exactly what’s causing this? Before diving deeper into the other causes, inadequate sunlight and moisture in the soil are the two main culprits behind this.
Every strawberry plant possesses excellent growing capabilities such that a single plant can produce hundreds or thousands of similar plants in a season.
However, the plant needs a long session of bright sunlight and adequate moisture in the soil for this.
If these two aren’t present, you will witness the above scenario. Let’s now discuss both these causes in detail besides the other significant causes.
If your strawberry plant leaves are curling, turning brown, or wilting, the higher are the chances of it suffering from the lethal verticillium wilt.
This verticillium wilt is a fungal infection that prevails in the soil over time. If not looked into early, it enters the vulnerable plants through their stems and then to the entire plant’s vascular system.
This fungal infection is common in over 350 varieties of plants that include vegetable/fruit plants, trees, shrubs, etc.
If your strawberry plant is having the above symptoms, you’d better confirm whether it’s this fungal infection spreading in the soil or not.
Since approximately six verticillium fungi such as V. Dahliae, V. Albo-atrum, V. Longisporum, V. Nubilum, V. Theobromae, and V. Tricorpus are responsible for the disease, it’s very harmful to the plant.
To get away with the infection, abstain from planting the strawberry plant in the soil which seems infected with the VW. Or, you can fumigate the soil well for at least a few months before doing so.
If not verticillium wilt, leaf scorch can take a toll on your strawberry plant leaves. Leaf scorch is a non-infectious plant condition that occurs when the conditions are unfavorable to the plant.
Say the temperature is too hot, inadequate moisture, dry solid winds, etc. Note that leaf scorch isn’t due to any fungus, bacteria, or virus. It’s a condition that develops over time, prominently between July and August.
In the initial stage, purple spots will appear over the leaf’s uppers side.
As these spots will grow, some brown/black fruiting bodies will start to develop in the center, which develops further, giving you an impression of brown leaves. These spots can slowly grow all over the plant’s body if not worked upon early.
Mycosphaerella fragariae is the fungus that results in another common plant disease called leaf spot. The reason why it’s popular as a leaf “spot” because it first appears as brown spots over the leaves and then spreads to the rest of the plant.
Besides the fungus mentioned above, leaf spot is also possible due to certain insects, air pollutants, or even bacteria.
The common symptoms of leaf spots include ¼” to ⅛” brown, black, tan, or reddish spots. Like leaf scorch, leaf spots attack the plant in summer or spring months, and generally, new leaves are its prime target.
Though leaf spot isn’t much more harmful than the other diseases or plant conditions, you should use a fungicide spray frequently to avoid the same.
In simple terms, nematodes are tiny roundworms that severely affect the strawberry plant.
In the initial stage, though these worms may not pose a significant threat to the plant, however, if allowed to grow into huge numbers, the scenario can change in the blink of the eye.
To determine whether nematodes have attacked your plant or not, look for the following symptoms.
- Brown/yellow leaves,
- Stunted growth,
- Less stability, etc.
Still, it would help if you didn’t rely on these symptoms alone. It is because these symptoms start to develop after a considerable period.
Hence, it’s better to professionally test the soil in a laboratory for the presence of nematodes in it.
As said above, though a strawberry plant isn’t fond of wet soil or too much moisture, it doesn’t mean you can overlook this completely.
If the soil’s top layer, say top 1″ to 2″ of the soil, seems dry, you should moisten the soil with little water. Further, enough moisture in the soil will prevent the plant from direct heat in the daytime.
If the soil lacks nitrogen content, the plant will start showing symptoms for the same, including brown leaves.
So, these are the common factors that cause the strawberry plant leaves to turn brown.
What can you do if your strawberry plant leaves are turning brown?
To curb off the browning of your strawberry plant leaves, here are some quick fixes.
- Strawberry plants need enough moisture in the soil for their growth. If it’s hot outside, you should put special emphasis on watering the plant. It’s better to water the plant either before 10 AM or after 5 PM to ensure less water loss appears due to evaporation and the plant gets to absorb more.
- Besides moisture shortage, the plant can also turn brown if there is nitrogen deficiency in the soil. Hence, you would have to either add nitrogen from other sources like a nitrogen-enriched fertilizer or repot the strawberry plant in another nitrogen-rich soil.
- Is the soil alkaline? If yes, it’s the first thing you need to undo. Strawberry plants thrive in acidic soil that has better drainage capacity that facilitates better and paced growth. Hence, go for only acidic soil.
- Lastly, various plant diseases like verticillium wilt, leaf scorch, leaf blight, leaf spot, etc., are common fungal diseases plants like strawberry often surrender. Hence, if any symptom of such diseases is visible, act promptly.
Should I remove dead leaves from strawberry plants?
Yes, you can cut off the dead leaves from the strawberry plants to promote the growth of the remaining and healthy leaves.
It is known as pruning. By eliminating the dead leaves that are impossible to revive by any means, you allow the soil nutrients to get used up by the rest of the plants.
However, remember that while pruning, don’t cut the entire plant in one go. Some plants can’t withstand heavy pruning, and the strawberry plant is one among them.
Plus, besides leaves, you can also cut off or remove dead stems, tangled roots, etc.
Strawberries are everyone’s favorite and due to several reasons. They are sweet, pulpy, juicy, and an excellent fruit to consume in harsh summers.
Plus, they are easy to grow such that more and more people have started cultivating them in their backyard.
If you, too, are deciding on this, here’s something of your interest. While growing a strawberry plant is no rocket science, you ought to take its proper care.
It is because such a plant is vulnerable to a range of diseases, as discussed above. Plus, upon infection, it’s tough to revive it to its senses. Hence, take proper care of your strawberry plant through the tips given above.