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Starting Strawberry Plants from Runners

Gently dig up or cut the stem that connects the runner from its parent plant. It is best to keep the soil around the runner’s roots intact.

Growing strawberry plantsUse runners from existing strawberry plants to start new strawberry beds each year to maintain sufficient yield from your home garden.

Strawberry plants are productive for three to five years. As time goes by, aging plants yield smaller and fewer berries. Renewing your strawberry patch each year will ensure you never run low of tasty berries.

Spring is a good time to start strawberries from seed (but not all varieties are available in seed). Fall is a good time to cut runners from existing plants and re-plant them to establish new plants. Fall planted runners will produce a crop the following spring; spring-planted runners will not produce berries until the following spring.

Strawberry runners
Strawberries send out runners from their plants – long flexible stems with little strawberry plants at the end

How to Grow Strawberries from Runners

  • Gently dig up or cut the stem that connects the runner from its parent plant. It is best to keep the soil around the runner’s roots intact.
  • Clip all but two or three of the leaflets from each new little plant.
  • Set strawberries from runners in new beds–about 6 to 8 inches apart. The plants from old beds can be put in the compost pile once runners are taken and planted in the new bed. Plant something else in the old bed.
  • Dig a hole in the new bed large enough to plant the runner—a hole 3- to 5-inches wide should do. Set the little plant in place and firm the soil around the roots.
  • Water the new plant in. A mix of water and liquid fish-and-seaweed emulsion will give the new plant just the right boost.

Temperature and Strawberry Yields

Strawberry plants require a period of winter chill between 34°F and 55°F to ensure vigorous growth and complete development of flower buds the following spring. (This is essential for fruit production.) If there is insufficient chill, plants will grow poorly and produce few berries. If the chill is too great, plants will grow strong but fruit production will be delayed.

Best strawberry production in warm-winter regions. To ensure the optimal berry yield in warm-winter regions, chill strawberry runners before you plant them. Gather runners together with a minimum amount of soil around their roots and place them in a plastic bag and set them in the refrigerator (low in the refrigerator near the vegetable drawer) for 20 days before planting. Pre-chilling will fool strawberries into thinking they had a cold winter.

Best strawberry production in cold-winter regions. Where winters are cold, protect strawberry plants–both young and old–from too much chill by covering plants with straw, pine needles or boughs, or spun-poly garden blankets. Pull the mulch away in early spring to allow the ground to warm and to allow bees to pollinate flowers when they open.

Strawberry plants that have set down good roots will be stimulated to produce fruit as soon as the ground warms and days lengthen in spring. Setting out runners in spring or in fall before the soil cools will give plants enough time to establish roots for strong growth and fruit production the next spring.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Strawberries

Strawberry Varieties for Backyard Gardens

Strawberry Plant Starting Tips

Starting Strawberry Plants from Runners

Growing Strawberries in Hot Summer Climates

Planting Strawberries

Strawberry: Kitchen Basics

 

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22 Comments

    • It will not hurt to remove non-bearing strawberry runners and replant them. If the runner is bearing fruit, it would be best to wait until after harvest.

  1. I bought some strawberries [runners]of TV. I put some in some new guttering on my back garden wall. and a few in a garden box in my garden 6ft x 4ft. but the runner are not producing nothing even leaves, they have been in two months now well watered and fed. can you please tell me what I am doing wrong.

    • If you purchased strawberry starts–root clumps with runners–and they have not sprung to life after a few weeks in the ground (you should see small green leaves starting) then it is likely the starts were not viable–probably they had dried out while in storage. Look for new starts at a local nursery.

  2. In the process of edging some beds I dug up a enough strawberry runners to fill a 5 gallon bucket. Potting them up seems like it will require a lot of work/materials and then I’d have to figure out a good place to keep them protected for the winter. I want to plant these out our property we are building on but can’t plant them until spring. I was hoping to find out how to best put them into dormancy until I can plant them out. Can I just wrap them in damp newspaper with moistened peat moss and keep them in the unheated garage or should I put them in containers with soil? Do they need light? I’m in the pacific northwest. Thanks!

    • Strawberry runners will likely need to be set in soil to keep through the winter (unlike plant crowns which can be dug up and stored dry). You can wrap the runners in damp newspaper but check them often; most will likely not keep. Perhaps the best way to keep them would be place a layer of potting mix in a large nursery flat or tray, then bury a node along each runner to help it root. Keep it in a bright location until you are ready to plant.

      • Thanks for getting back to me. I had already gone ahead and planted them in flats with soil. They are planted very close together. Most of them have a pretty deep roots – would that qualify them as crowns? Or do they need to be rooted on their own apart from the mother plant for a certain time before being considered crowns?

        • A crown is sustainable on its own–meaning a sustainable root system. Strawberry crowns may lose their leaves in cold winter regions and will re-grow new stems the following spring. Sounds like your transplants are crowns or very close.

  3. Strawberry short day varieties ,what the protocol of artificial chilling ,temp.,days,plant bare roots preparation,and potted plants as well

  4. I bought a strawberry plant in a pot that already had berries. I have 3 runners now, and I am getting 3 berries a week to be picked. How do I and when, do I begin to plant runners? Also I have heard to leave them attached to the mother plant while growing them some in their own pots, and then heard if I clip runners it will make mother plant produce more berries. I’m so confused and so new to this. Our ground is not ideal to plant in, so I have to keep them in pots or buckets. I’m in central Virginia too.

    • Removing runners from a strawberry plant will allow the mother plant to more quickly produce new berries. Since runners will root in 7 to 10 days, you will likely not lose too many berries from the mother plant. Place a new pot of soil under each runner and bury a node (there may already be small roots at each node). Give the runners a week or so to fully root and then clip them away from the mother plant. Soon you will have three plants producing berries each week.

  5. Hello. I’m in New York and have planted a couple runners in small containers. They’re growing well but I’m sure they won’t winter. I was planning on taking them inside for the winter and letting them grow until spring. Should I refrigerate them for a month to force them to grow better indoors over the colder months?

    Thanks

    Kerry

    • Strawberry plants commonly need 7 to 15 days (depending on the variety) of chill at about 45F to break dormancy and produce the next season. So give your plants a couple of weeks of chill in the refrigerator and you can grow them on indoors this winter.

  6. I have yellow strawberry plants for about 7 yeats. Last year two of the plant started to grow verylarg and upward with a stem grow out of the center. I cut it back after a few week, they didn’t produce anything last simmer. They came back this year and are getting very bushy. I did notice i have a gew new plants. Also I had planted a few dryed root crowns last summer and nothing came up however this spring o saw anew plant came up ot is getting very large . its a red strawberry plant. Is this normal?

    • Take runners from the older plant and replant them to start new plants; strawberries are productive for 2 to 3 years, then they start to decline. It the offspring are red, which indicates the mother plant was a hybrid and the youngsters are reverting back to a past generation.

  7. My partner previously purchased bare roots strawberries and planted them in autumn. At present (start of march) there is no foliage and just the crowns above the soil which are brown. Is this how they should look when dormant or Is it likely they are dead? We are now coming into spring so was wondering if this is how they should look.

    • Dormant strawberry crowns can appear brown and dry. Once the soil temperature warms to about 50F, you should start to see new green growth emerge. If you do not see new green shoots by mid-spring, it is likely the crowns have dried and died and should be replaced.

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