As you can see in the picture attached, the leaves of the strawberry plant are turning brown at the tips and I don't know why. While it has recently moved to a new home, it is always indoors by the window which receives plenty of direct sunlight. It is also watered every morning from the base (so that water seeps in from the saucer). Can anyone shed some light and help save the strawberry plant?

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3 Answers 3


I think this is because of the high salts in your water, possibly too much fertilizer. High salts show browning at the tips and margins of leaves. High salts can be seen on the bottom of your pot. That white residue are 'salts' and make sense with how you are watering. Don't water from the bottom..

I would get cheap potting soil without any additives or gimmicks such as water holding gels or sponges and certainly should have no fertilizer added. You have to be in control of fertilizer; Less is Best, More is Death and None is Dumb.

Repot this plant in fresh soil, check out the root system while it is out of the pot. No gravel or anything below the soil and above the drainage hole. Lift bottom of pot off of surface of saucer or whatever the pot is sitting on...up about 1/4 inch. Pieces of broken tile work very well. Pot Feet can be purchased that are very cool looking but broken tile pieces work just as well. That air space between pot and the surface accentuates drainage pulling air back into your soil as fast as the water drains out.

Buy a gallon or two of distilled water. Tap water is horrendous for salts and lots of toxic stuff.

After repotting in fresh, cheap, sterilized potting soil, water well, allow to drain and then pick that pot and plant up to feel the weight.

When that weight is obviously lighter, then you water deeply again. Not before.

Do not water from the bottom. Water from above and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Watering might be more often at the beginning until your plant has had a chance to have its roots trained to grow deeper to get at the moisture less able to evaporate.

When that plant, soil and pot are obviously light yet your plant shows no signs of dehydration, THEN is the perfect time to water and water deeply, allow water to drain from the hole and do not water again until that soil has had a chance to dry out and the plant's roots are allowed to suck up the water it needs without getting 'wet feet'. Sitting in water is pretty much the kiss of death for most plants in most environmental conditions unless that plant is a bog or water plant. Even then it is critical to get air into the water by replenishing with aerated fresh water. This is not a water or bog plant but it needs a bit of moisture in the soil to keep its roots healthy and hydrated.

Do not water every morning. Water only when that soil, pot and plant feel obviously lighter but before this plant shows wilting. You are watering too much and allowing roots to sit in stagnant water is not healthy.

But because you have been watering from below, this plant must have very deep roots already. I think a great watering with distilled water, saucer sitting on 1/4" pieces of tile, staying in the same environment and then allowing to dry before watering again will solve your problems. Use distilled water, not other 'bottled' water. You should drink distilled water as well unless you have a friend with their own well of water!

  • You shouldn't make blanket statements like those on which water to use. I've been watering indoor plants with tap water for decades-my amaryllis is over 35 years old, the Christmas cactus is even older & my rosemary and bay are fine. Most people who water their gardens use tap water-do you suggest that they use distilled water for that? Wells aren't necessarily safe either-my in-laws' well is contaminated & undrinkable (their houseplants are fine, BTW). The well water in NE Wisconsin naturally contains arsenic &radon (and ALS is highest per-capita in that area).
    – Jurp
    Dec 17, 2018 at 1:28
  • The only caveat about water that makes sense is - if you have a water softener, do NOT use softened water for watering plants - that water can contain salts. Typically, the kitchen faucet is unsoftened, as is the water running to the outside hose bibs. This is the water I use for my plants.
    – Jurp
    Dec 17, 2018 at 1:30
  • Jurp, are you on city water? You should take a field trip to your water supply source for your city and then tell me what tap water is all about...oh my goodness! Salts are more than 'salt'...ummm...our tap water is so full of salt that this white crusting stuff is NORMAL when people use tap water. Water softener yeah will do this but our city tap water is horrendous for salts and do you want me to go into hydrofluorosilicic acid (fluoride ha ha ) PLUS arsenic, PLUS mercury and plus lead. When they do manage to test our city drinking water this is what they find...and we just look away....
    – stormy
    Dec 17, 2018 at 7:22
  • Grins, I will make blanket statements on stuff like our drinking water when it is true. Go and do that field trip, I kid you not! San Diego was the last big city in the U.S. to be MADE to put industrial waste in their water. They were forced to fluoridate. Talk about salts...I won't drink tap water and I certainly will not water my plants or my pets with tap water. I KNOW what they've done and I am horrified to the point I actually get to be the bad guy blabbing this stuff to warn others. Distilled water or well water, tested of course is all I will use.
    – stormy
    Dec 17, 2018 at 7:27
  • Stormy - please keep your opinions to yourself. Fluoride and chlorine are not "industrial wastes". You are perfectly within your rights to drink or not drink whatever you like (I prefer good beer to tap water, myself), but what you don't know is more than what you DO know in this case.
    – Jurp
    Dec 17, 2018 at 11:58

All my years growing strawberries, I’ve never been able to grow the plant without brown tips on the leaves, to the point where I now consider this “normal”. Whether it is or not (normal) can be left to someone else to comment on.

My rule - remove each brown tip leaf with a pair of clean secateurs or sharp scissors, once the brown tips extend more than 1cm / 0.5 inch in from the edge of their leaf.

(Climate in my location is subtropical, bordering on temperate (depending on the year), so I must be mindful of potential diseases such as rust and fungal infections.)

We enjoy a prolific amount of clean disease-free fruit through the warmer months, so the effectiveness of this technique is, in practice, proven.

Take some solace from the fact that your plant appears vigorous, with very strongly formed bright green new leaves.

My advice... keep doing whatever you’ve been doing, but also regularly remove any leaves where the brown tips have “grown”.

Maybe consider repotting the plant and any new “suckers” it produces into a larger pot at the commencement of the next growing season (traditionally spring).


I think stormy is probably right about high salts being part of the problem (I'm not sure about city water being the source of them, though, although it's possible). Salts include, but are not limited to, fertilizer salts (e.g. water soluble forms of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). My hunch is that there's too much nitrogen, possibly due to overfertilization, especially for the light levels (it seems like the light levels are low, especially by the plant's appearance; it looks leggy), and that the plants are overwatered. Once a day may be required in some contexts, but it's usually too often. The soil shouldn't be wet all the time.

Overwatering and high nitrogen (or over-fertilization), especially in low light, can contribute to root rot.

Although too much nitrogen is often a major contributor to burned foliage, and root rot, other fertilizer salts can contribute, too. I recommend studying the salt index of anything you give your plants.

The wilting leaves have me worried. That could mean the roots are having problems.

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