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How To Grow New Strawberry Plants From Runners

One of the great things about strawberries is that they are very easy to propagate.

Buy one plant and it will usually produce several new plants over the course of the season.

Most strawberry plants send out runners. These runners are spread out around each plant, and when they make contact with soil, they take root. New plants then form from these that are clones of the parent plant. 

This is the most common, and easiest way to propagate strawberries. Strawberries can also be propagated by division, and by seed but both methods are significantly more difficult and don’t yield the same results.

How To Propagate Strawberries From Runners

Let’s take a look at how you can gain new strawberry plants from runners sent out by strawberry plants.

Propagating strawberries with runners is by far the most common way to get new strawberry plants. Most June-bearing and everbearing varieties send out runners. The exceptions are generally wild strawberry varieties which must usually be propagated by seed. 

Strawberry runners are technically stolons.

These are horizontal stems which grow from the base of the plants and form nodes. New strawberry plants will form at these nodes.

First, the nodes will develop adventitous roots. These specialist roots grow and, where they make contact with a suitable growing medium, will continue to grow and turn into a new clone plant. The plants formed on the stolons of a strawberry plant are genetically identical to their parent plant. 

When To Let Runners Grow

Early in the growing season, strawberry plants may send out runners when the plants are still in fruit. It is generally best to cut these off to allow the plants to focus on fruit production.

It’s best to prune off strawberry runners early in the season to allow the plant to focus on fruit production.

Once the fruiting period has finished, however, you should let the runners form.

If you would like to create a permanent, dedicated strawberry patch, or want to use strawberries as ground cover, you can simply leave runners to take root as they will. 

But one of the good things about these runners is that they are generally long enough and flexible to direct. Gardeners can guide them to where they want them to grow. This should be undertaken in late summer, or very early fall at the latest. 

Guiding Strawberry Runners to Where You Want Them to Grow

There are a number of ways in which gardeners can direct the runners. One common idea is to operate a form of row growing. In this type of strawberry patch, runners from the parent plants are guided to create a second row of plants next to the first. 

The advantage of doing things this way is that you can easily keep track of the age of your plants, which ones are older and which are younger.

This can be helpful because strawberry plants will usually decline in yield after a few years (typically 3-5 years depending on cultivar). At this point, the oldest and least productive plants can be removed to make space for a new row of runners. 

Runners are guided into position along a new row (or in a bare patch of soil in a less ordered scheme). They can then be pegged down to hold the nodes or budding roots against the soil.

How To Peg Down Strawberry Runners

In order to peg down your plants you can use:

  • Sections of metal wire bent into U-shapes.
  • Old hook-style tent pegs.
  • Old clothes pegs inserted upside down into the soil. 
  • Bendy twigs formed into U-shape pegs. 
  • Forked sticks shoved into the soil, with a prong on either side of the runner.
  • Two thin stones with a third stone (heavy enough to hold the runner in place) positioned on top of them. (Just take care not to crush the runner when placing your stones, as nutrients need to flow from the parent plant until the roots of the new plants are established.)

Pegging or holding the runner down against the soil surface will allow root systems to form. Keep your new runners well watered as this will help to promote root growth. 

Guiding Runners into Pots or Containers

Another option to consider is guiding the runners to root in pots or containers. Position these close to the parent plant and simply peg down the runners to let them root into the growing medium inside these pots or containers. 

The advantage of rooting runners in pots or containers is that you can then easily move them to a different part of your garden.

You could also move them to an undercover growing area so you can bring forward your harvest and get a slightly earlier strawberry crop the following spring. This would also be a good idea if you would like to sell some strawberry plants. Or if you wish to gift some to friends, family, neighbours, or others in your community. 

Separating Strawberry Runners From Parent Plants

You will be able to tell when the strawberries have rooted by gently pulling on the plants. Once the roots have formed, they will not easily lift away from the soil surface. Once the runners have rooted, the long stolons will eventually die back and break, severing the connection. 

If you wish to move your plants before this happens, you can simply cut the runners off as soon as the new root systems have formed. 

You now have stand-alone specimens that can survive as independent plants. You can move them to other locations if you wish.

It really is as easy as that!

Now all that’s left to do is enjoy your huge strawberry harvests.

More Strawberry Gardening Tutorials & Ideas

How To Plant a Strawberry Patch That Produces Fruit For Decades

7 Secrets for Your Best Strawberry Harvest Every Year

15 Innovative Strawberry Planting Ideas For Big Harvests In Tiny Spaces

11 Strawberry Companion Plants (& 2 Plants To Grow Nowhere Near)

How to Make an Easy to Water Strawberry Pot

10 Fantastic and Unusual Strawberry Recipes that go Beyond Jam

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a writer, permaculture designer and green living consultant. She is a practical, hands-on gardener, with a background in philosophy: (an MA in English-Philosophy from St Andrews University). She has long had an interest in ecology, gardening and sustainability and is fascinated by how thought can generate action, and ideas can generate positive change.

In 2014, she and her husband moved to their forever home in the country. She graduated from allotment gardening to organically managing 1/3 of an acre of land, including a mature fruit orchard,which she has turned into a productive forest garden. The yield from the garden is increasing year on year – rapidly approaching an annual weight in produce of almost 1 ton.

She has filled the rest of the garden with a polytunnel, a vegetable patch, a herb garden, a wildlife pond, woodland areas and more. Since moving to the property she has also rescued many chickens from factory farms, keeping them for their eggs, and moved much closer to self-sufficiency. She has made many strides in attracting local wildlife and increasing biodiversity on the site.

When she is not gardening, Elizabeth spends a lot of time working remotely on permaculture garden projects around the world. Amongst other things, she has designed private gardens in regions as diverse as Canada, Minnesota, Texas, the Arizona/California desert, and the Dominican Republic, commercial aquaponics schemes, food forests and community gardens in a wide range of global locations.

In addition to designing gardens, Elizabeth also works in a consultancy capacity, offering ongoing support and training for gardeners and growers around the globe. She has created booklets and aided in the design of Food Kits to help gardeners to cool and warm climates to grow their own food, for example. She is undertaking ongoing work for NGO Somalia Dryland Solutions and a number of other non governmental organisations, and works as an environmental consultant for several sustainable companies.

Visit her website here and follow along on her Facebook page here.