Do you have strawberry plants in your garden? If so, you may have noticed that the leaves are starting to turn brown. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! This is a common problem with strawberry plants, and there are several reasons why it may happen. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of leaf browning in strawberry plants, as well as some solutions that you can try.
Why Are My Strawberry Leaves Turning Brown?
Brown strawberry plant leaves are typically due to fungal diseases, insects, overwatering, leaf burn, or nutritional problems. The exact type of browning will depend on the underlying cause. For example, if the leaves are turning brown due to a fungal disease, you may see spots or lesions on the leaves. If insects are to blame, you may see chewed leaves or webbing.
To gain a better understanding of why your strawberry leaves are turning brown, I will now discuss each of these potential causes in more detail.
1. Browning Strawberry Leaves from Fungal Infection
Fungal infections are one of the most common reasons for brown leaves on strawberry plants. The most common type of fungal infection in strawberries is called anthracnose.q This disease is caused by the fungus Colletotrichum acutatum and it affects both the fruit and leaves of strawberry plants.
Symptoms include small brown or black spots on the leaves, as well as on the fruit. The spots may be surrounded by a yellow halo. In severe cases, the leaves may turn brown and die.
Anthracnose is most likely to occur during wet weather conditions, so it’s important to avoid overhead watering if possible. Water early in the day so that the foliage has time to dry before nightfall. This will help reduce the chances of fungal spores developing and infecting your plants.
In addition, make sure to remove any affected leaves from the plant as soon as you see them. This will help prevent the disease from spreading. If you have a severe infestation, you may need to use a fungicide to get the problem under control.
My favorite fungicide is neem oil (Amazon link), which is made from the neem tree. It’s a natural product that is safe to use on your plants and isn’t harmful to the environment.
Simply mix it with water according to the directions on the bottle and spray it on your strawberry plants. Be sure to treat both the tops and bottoms of the leaves, as well as any affected fruit. You will need to reapply every few days until the problem is under control.
2. Browning Strawberry Leaves from Frost Damage
Frost damage is another common reason for brown leaves on strawberry plants. This typically happens in the spring, when the plants are just starting to grow. The new growth is particularly susceptible to frost damage.
Symptoms include brown tips that look like they’re burnt, as well as brown or black spots on the leaves. In severe cases, the leaves may turn brown and die.
To prevent frost damage in the future, make sure to plant your strawberry plants in an area that is protected from the wind. You may also want to consider covering them with a frost blanket if you live in an area where late frosts are common.
3. Browning Strawberry Leaves from Overwatering
Overwatering is another common cause of brown leaves on strawberry plants. When the roots of a plant are constantly wet, they start to suffocate and rot. This can lead to a number of problems, including leaf browning.
Symptoms of overwatering include wilting, yellowing, and browning of the leaves. The leaves may also fall off the plant prematurely. In severe cases, the plant may die if the roots are completely rotted.
To prevent overwatering, make sure to water your plants only when the soil is dry to the touch. Avoid watering in the evening, as this can cause the leaves to stay wet overnight and increase the chances of fungal infection.
In addition, make sure to plant your strawberry plants in well-draining soil. This will help prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged in wet weather.
4. Browning Strawberry Leaves from Pests
Pests can also be a problem for strawberry plants, and they can cause the leaves to turn brown. The most common pests that affect strawberries are spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies.
These pests suck the sap out of the plant, which can lead to yellowing and browning of the leaves. They may also attack the fruits, causing them to become misshapen or discolored. In severe cases, the plant may be completely defoliated.
To prevent pests from becoming a problem, make sure to keep your strawberry plants clean and free of debris. This will help reduce the chances of pests infesting your plants. In addition, you can use a number of different pesticides to control pests.
One of my favorite ways to get rid of pests is with neem oil (Amazon link), which is a natural product that is safe to use around your plants.
To use neem oil on strawberry plants, simply mix it with water according to the directions on the bottle and spray it on your plants. Be sure to treat both the tops and bottoms of the leaves, as well as any affected fruit. You will need to reapply every few days until the problem is under control.
5. Browning Strawberry Leaves from Leaf Burn
Leaf burn is another common problem that can cause the leaves of your strawberry plants to turn brown. Leaf burn is typically caused by too much sun, which can cause the leaves to scorch along the edges.
Symptoms of leaf burn include brown or black spots on the leaves, as well as brown edges. The affected leaves may also curl up or fall off the plant prematurely. In severe cases, the entire plant may be killed.
To prevent leaf burn, make sure to plant your strawberry plants in an area that receives partial shade. You may also want to consider using a shade cloth to protect your plants from the harsh afternoon sun.
6. Browning Strawberry Leaves from Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies can also cause the leaves of your strawberry plants to turn brown. The most common nutrient deficiency that affects strawberries is iron deficiency, which causes the leaves to change color.
Other nutrient deficiencies that can cause leaf browning include magnesium deficiency and manganese deficiency, which are important for growing healthy leaves. These deficiencies are typically caused by a lack of nutrients in the soil.
To prevent nutrient deficiencies, make sure to fertilize your strawberry plants regularly. I recommend a balanced fertilizer that contains all of the essential nutrients. You can also use a soil test kit to check the nutrient levels in your soil and add amendments as needed.
Will Brown Strawberry Leaves Turn Green Again?
No, unfortunately, once the leaves turn brown, they will not turn green again. These leaves are dying and will eventually fall off the plant.
If you catch the problem early, you may be able to save the plant by taking corrective action. However, in most cases, it is best to simply remove the affected leaves and focus on preventing future problems.
Should I Prune Brown Strawberry Leaves?
There is no need to prune brown strawberry leaves, as they will eventually fall off the plant on their own. The only time I would recommend pruning is if a fungal disease is present, as this can spread to other parts of the plant.
Simply take a pair of sharp pruning shears and cut off the affected leaves at the base. Be sure to dispose of them in the trash so you don’t accidentally spread the disease to other plants.
In conclusion, there are a number of reasons why the leaves of your strawberry plants may turn brown. The most common causes are pests, leaf burn, overwatering, frost damage, fungal infection, and nutrient deficiencies.
If you take corrective action early, you may be able to save the plant. However, in most cases, it is best to simply remove the affected leaves and focus on preventing future problems.
I hope this article was helpful in identifying the reasons why your strawberry leaves are turning brown. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
Tim is an avid gardener from the UK. He was the founder of PlantCarer.com from 2021 to Sep 2023. He sold PlantCarer.com to Aaron. He has since started his own business called Seed To Supper, which provides new gardeners all the materials you need in a box (pots, seeds, compost and instructions) to grow your own delicious and nutritious vegetables and herbs from start to finish – no garden required.