The juiciness and aroma of home-grown strawberries is beyond compare, and it’s easy to make more plants so you can enjoy an even bigger harvest next year.
If you’ve grown strawberries before you’ll have noticed that plants throw out several long, leafless stalks called runners. We can use these to quickly raise new plants.
Established strawberry plants will send out multiple runners over the soil surface. Each runner has a tiny plant at its end and these can be rooted and grown on to produce new plants.
Runners take a lot of the plant’s energy to produce, so in the first two years of life they should be cut off from where they emerge to concentrate the plant’s efforts on fruit production. From year three some of the runners can be used to propagate new plants. Only ever use healthy runners from vigorous, disease-free plants. Unless you plan to dispose of the parent plants, limit the number of runners to five per plant.
Pegging Down Runners
Look closely at the plantlet at the end of the runner and you may be able to see tiny roots already beginning to form. To get these to root, simply peg down the plantlet into the ground or into pots of potting soil with a hairpin, U-shaped clip or a length of garden wire bent into shape. Make sure the plantlet is in firm contact with the soil.
Growing on New Strawberry Plants
After about a month to six weeks the plantlet will have started to grow new leaves. At this point, cut it free from the parent plant. Grow the young plant on where it is, or dig it up and replant into fresh ground. New strawberries rooted into pots can be overwintered in a greenhouse or cold frame then planted out in spring - particularly useful if winters are harsh in your area.
Keep Strawberry Plants Healthy
Strawberries become less productive over time, so you need to grow more plants from runners every three to four years to ensure continuing good harvests. For best results, grow each new generation of strawberries in a completely fresh bed enriched with compost to avoid the build up of disease. You could also use your new plants to fill a special strawberry planter, troughs, or perhaps a handsome terracotta pot.
If you love getting something for free then propagating new strawberry plants from runners is well worthwhile.