With red coloured fruits and green foliage, strawberries allure eye balls. But, when you notice strawberry leaves turning red, then it is really heart wrenching. However, you don’t have to worry. Read on this article to diagnose the root cause and how to revive the plant.
Strawberry plants prefer slightly acidic to neutral. If you’re growing this fruit plant in too acidic or too alkaline soil, then strawberry leaves may turn red.
Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences states two main causes of this discoloration. One is leaf scorch disease and the other is due to deficiency in nutrients.
Apart from this, there can be several factors that turn green strawberry leaves to red or purple. Like soil pH, fungal diseases, cold climatic conditions, phosphorus, and nitrogen deficiency can turn strawberry plant leaves to red.
So, now the question arises how to revive your plant and how can you avoid leaf discoloration in this fruit plant?
Before jumping to its causes, allow me to write a few points about the nutritional requirement of the strawberry plant.
Essential Nutrients to Grow Strawberry Plant
How many nutrients a strawberry plant need depends on soil type, growing season, nutrients in the soil, and crop history.
Like most plants, strawberry needs a balanced amount of NPK ratio while planting.
Along with fertilization, you should add organic matter around the plant to achieve fertile soil.
Growing soil has lots of nutrients, which your plant will need all the time. But, during the growing phases, strawberry needs certain nutrients in large amount.
Most reputed and essential nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apart from this, calcium, zinc, boron, iron, magnesium, copper, sulfur, and silica are needed to grow healthy strawberry plants.
Every nutrient has an important role in growing successful strawberries.
- Nitrogen is responsible for the green leaves of your strawberry plant.
- Phosphorus is needed for the photosynthesis process.
- Potassium looks after regulating the use of water and fights diseases.
- Similarly, calcium to resist mold, iron for chlorophyll production, and sulfur for ripe strawberries.
Deficiency in these nutrients will eventually result in discoloration of leaves and your plant will be prone to disease.
What My Strawberry Leaves are Turning Red?
If you haven’t skipped the above lines, then you might already know the importance of soil nutrients.
But, why strawberry leaves are turning red?
As already mentioned, it can be due to a deficiency in nitrogen and phosphorus or it plant disease like a leaf scorch turned your green strawberry leaves to red.
1. Nutritional Deficiency
Agricultural University states, when the soil lacks enough nitrogen or phosphorus, strawberry plant leaves turn purple or reddish.
To avoid this, you must initially soil test before growing strawberry plants.
Why Nitrogen or Phosphorus deficiency occurs?
Nitrogen plays a vital role in chlorophyll production, which is essential in photosynthesis.
- Nitrogen deficiency occurs due to leaching. Loss of nutrients due to heavy rain or excess irrigation.
- Lack of moisture in the soil makes it difficult for plant roots to absorb water-soluble nutrients by roots.
- Poor soil aeration also results in nitrogen deficiency.
- Soil temperature, weed infestation, root health, low organic matter in the soil, and soil salinity all can cause nitrogen deficiency in your growing soil.
- Phosphorus deficiency can be found in soil that has too high pH or too low pH.
You should opt for neutral soil pH.
If the soil pH is less than 7.5, adding soil amendments like sulfur will help to neutralize soil pH.
In case, the soil pH is above 7.5 then it can be difficult to lower. Gardeners must opt for pH-tolerant plants in such soil. Read more about reducing soil pH here.
Excess carbon can turn strawberry leaves red
The presence of too much carbon in the growing soil can affect the decomposition of organic matter.
Microorganisms work for your plant to break these carbon compounds and need more nitrogen and as a result, it uses N from the plant.
Thus, resulting in nitrogen deficiency and turning green leaves to red.
You can avoid it by keeping sawdust, straw, and pine needles.
Must read: Are Coffee Grounds Good for Strawberry Plants?
2. Climatic Conditions
Most plants undergo dormant stages during winter. Similarly, if you see strawberry leaves turning red in cold temperatures, then don’t fertilize instead leave it so till winter goes.
3. Leaf Scorch
Inspecting your plant leaves is a major step to determine the fungal infection like leaf scorch.
If you notice, purple lesions on leaves along with red leaves, then most likely it is leaf scorch disease.
If ignored, it can spread to fruit and eventually kill the plant.
Depending on the variety of plants, you might notice different signs of leaf scorch.
Common symptoms: Reddish purple spots on leaves and stems. It can also spread to runners and fruit.
This fungal disease spread rapidly in wet or moist environments. Avoid overwatering your strawberry plant.
Cut the affected part of the plant and use a fungicide to resist fungal spread.
Avoid using such affected plant leaves in your compost bin.
Here is a research publication that explains how soil pH affects nutritional availability in the growing soil.
Gardeners must test their soil before starting strawberry plants.
- Your strawberry plant prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.3 to 6.5. (Source)
- Add lime if the pH is less than 5.3.
- If the soil pH is too high, add elemental sulfur before 1 year of planting.
How Avoid Strawberry Leaves from Turning Red?
In simple points:
- Soil test before planting. This will help to reduce or increase the pH of the growing medium.
- Also, conducting soil tests for nutrients will help you to add essential nutrients before planting strawberry plants.
- Avoid overwatering.
- Ensure strawberry plant gets enough sunlight.
- The growing medium should have enough organic matter that releases water-soluble nutrients into the soil.
- Inspect your strawberry plant leaves regularly. If noticed fungal infestation, then cut the affected part and use a fungicide.
- Avoid using tools that are affected by plant disease.
Growing medium, watering, and sunlight exposure all are important for plant growth.
Before planting strawberries ensure to conduct a soil test to determine nutritional ability.
Essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are essential for a healthy strawberry plant.
Though you provided enough nutrients, what happens when the plant roots fail to absorb them?
Nutrients like nitrogen prefer neutral soil pH, with too high soil pH nutrients may find it difficult.
As mentioned above, soil pH will affect nutrients in the soil. It can be organic or synthetic fertilizer.
Start to fertilize your plant with balanced NPK. Then you can add nitrogen-rich fertilizer to boost leaf, roots, and plant growth.
Home gardeners along with growing soil, add old compost to the container. Along with NPK, compost attracts helpful fungi that bring other nutrients to the growing medium.
You can also use liquid fertilizers, as strawberry leaves can absorb nutrients.
Like most plants, the strawberry plant absorbs nutrients from its growing medium. So, you should opt for well-drained and fertile soil.
Should I be worried about strawberry plant leaves turning red?
No, you don’t have to worry.
First, diagnose the root cause.
Use fungicide if the cause is leaf scorch.
Else, add nitrogen or phosphorus-rich fertilizers to the growing soil.
Why my strawberry stems and leaves are turning red?
Nutritional deficiency, leaf scorch plant diseases can cause your strawberry stems and leaves to turn purple-reddish.
Should I prune red strawberry leaves?
Yes, leaves turning red or purple can either be affected by fungal disease or the soil has nitrogen deficiency. Trim and add the required amount of nutrients to the plant.
Can overwatering strawberries cause red stems or leaves?
Yes. Fungal infestation grows rapidly in wet moist environments. Avoid excess watering your strawberry plant.
Check this: How much water does strawberry plants need?
What deficiency causes red stem?
Phosphorus and nitrogen deficiency cause red stems and leaves in strawberry plants.
Strawberry leaves turn red or purple due to a deficiency in nitrogen and phosphorus.
As mentioned, leaf scorch can result in purple lesion on strawberry leaves, stem, and fruit.
You need to diagnose the problem, only then apply nutrients, as a high amount of nutrients can often result in stunted plant growth.