Once you start growing delicious fruit and veg at home you never want to stop. Plus, it will save you money if you grow more plants from one original! Make the most of your strawberry plants with these tips to propagate strawberries from runners to create more plants.
What are strawberry runners?
By now, most varieties have finished their main flush of berries and are producing what is known as ‘runners’. These runners are long, arching extended stems with tiny leaves and a growing point spaced out at intervals along it. They even already have a root system.
Each of those sets of tiny leaves has the capacity to grow a new plant. If growing in soil and left to their own devices, these tiny plantlets will root in the soil and grow on to become fully formed, fruiting plants.
However, if you’re growing strawberries in pots or through weed suppressant membrane, you might need to give the runners a helping hand.
This can easily be done by placing a small pot of soil close to the mini plant. Then, peg the ends of the runner into the pot so that the mini plant is touching the soil. Water a little, but don’t overwater and then leave until the mini plant has rooted into the soil.
Then, cut the runner stem from either side of the plant and plant in a new position.
Can you create new strawberry plants from runners?
Firstly, propagating strawberry plants from runners means you’ll have more plants and fruit. Also, they are often infected by one or more viruses that result in a greatly reduced crop and stunted plant growth. For this reason, it’s really important to buy your initial plants from a reputable source that can certify the plants as being ‘virus-free’.
Doing this should give you around 3 years virus free plants. But after that time the plants are very likely to become infected and should be disposed of and fresh plants are grown.
Therefore, it’s a really good idea to propagate new plants from your plants the first year you plant them. You shouldn’t grow new plants from runners on strawberry plants you’ve had for 3 or more years as the chances are they’ll be virus infected which is passed onto the mini plant runners.
If you can, try to avoid replanting new plants on the same site. This is because some strawberry viruses are spread by soil nematodes which hang around in the soil even after old plants have been removed.
So, the ideal situation is to create another strawberry bed as far away from the existing bed as possible into which you plant your newly grown runners.
During year two, you can grow new plants from both the first and second strawberry beds and replant the young runners into a third bed. Again, planting as far away from the other two beds as possible. Then in year three you dig up and dispose of the plants in the first bed.
How to pot strawberry plants
You can grow and rotate the new strawberry plants in special strawberry pots that have planting holes all around the sides of the pot. These pots are available from most garden centres and plant nurseries.
Alternatively, it’s possible to make your own using old tubs or even wood barrels.
Usually, planting in late summer will enable you to harvest a crop the following year. But strawberries can be planted or transplanted at any time of the year, provided the winter is not too harsh.
So, make the most of your strawberry plants and ensure they are virus free with these tips on propagating strawberries from runners. Then you can have an abundance of sweet juicy harvests for you to enjoy through summer.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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