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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Strawberry Tree Needs Extra Care in the Desert

Q. I have a strawberry tree that is probably getting too much sun. The tips of the leaves are very discolored. Is there anything I can do to help it?

A. Strawberry tree is native to Western Europe and the Mediterranean region. 

Its leaves tend to yellow because of micronutrient fertilizer problems, cold temperatures and intense sunlight. Leaves also tend to scorch on the tips in very hot locations with intense sunlight. They do not perform well in rock mulch in south or western exposures.

Getting this plant closer to optimum health helps it tolerate stresses caused by extreme soil and environmental conditions. Soil improvement and wood surface mulch will help this plant a lot.

This plant should not be in rock mulch. Rock mulches radiate a lot of heat during the summer and add nothing back to the soil. If this plant is in rock mulch, I would pull the rock back a couple of feet and apply an inch or two of compost.

After lightly incorporating the compost into the upper soil surface, I would cover the exposed area with about 3 to 4 inches of wood chips. The combination of compost and decomposing wood chips will help to rebuild the soil around the roots. Rebuilding the soil around the roots improves the biological activity of the soil and overall plant health.

From your picture, the foliage otherwise looks healthy except for its scorched leaf tips. I would guess it is getting adequate amounts of fertilizer.

Applying fertilizers regularly to desert soils is frequently not enough to provide a plant with optimum health. Be sure to add an iron chelate such as EDDHA in a spring application of fertilizer once a year. The combination of the right kind of fertilizer, soil improvement and wood surface mulch will bring this plant closer to optimum health and better tolerance for hot locations.

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