How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Salt toxicity in strawberries

Symptoms of salt toxicity include brittle leaves and brown and dry leaf margins. Roots may die and plants may be stunted or killed.


Symptoms of salt toxicity may be confused with symptoms of drought stress or boron deficiency. Leaf margins become yellowed or burned at the tips. Tissue tests can be done to confirm a salt toxicity problem.


Strawberry plants are highly sensitive to salt. Salt toxicity may be caused by high levels of salt in the soil, poor drainage, excessive application of fertilizer, or the application of fertilizer to wet foliage. Tests of soil can be used to confirm the source of salt toxicity. If salt accumulation becomes a problem, use sprinklers to rinse salts from the beds. It is a good idea to sprinkle heavily at least twice during the summer; do so in the morning so that plants can dry off. Do not use softened water for strawberries. Water softeners replace calcium and similar ions, which are not harmful to strawberry plants, with sodium, which is harmful.

Dry leaf margins caused by salt toxicity
Dry leaf margins caused by salt toxicity

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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