How to Plant Strawberry Runners and Grow More Fruit

In your strawberry bed, you’ve probably noticed long, thin stalks, or stolons, growing out of each plant. You may have been wondering what to do with those strawberry runners growing in all directions and the baby plants growing on them. These little strawberry plants are an easy (and free!) way to propagate your existing plants, allowing you to either expand or refresh your berry patch. However, runners produce a lot of of new small plants, so it can fill up quickly if you don’t intervene. Here’s what you need to know to successfully plant strawberry runners in your garden so you always have plenty of fruit to harvest.

What are strawberry runners?

Strawberry runners (also called stolons) are horizontal stems that grow on the ground. Each runner produces several new “daughter” plants that are still attached to the original “mother” plant. A daughter plant roots where it touches the ground. Once the new plant is established on its own roots, the stolon will dry up to separate the daughter from the mother plant. Strawberries that bear fruit in June emit many stolons after fruiting and are often stronger than strawberries that bear fruit in the wild. Day-neutral plants produce almost no runners.

Test garden tip: For strawberry plants that are less than a year old, cut off any stolons so that the plant directs all of its energy into its own growth.

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How to plant strawberry runners in pots

One way to grow new strawberry plants from suckers is to help them root in pots. This method is especially useful if you plan to move the new plants to a different location. This technique also helps you be selective about the number of stolons you leave on the plant. Keep only the number you want and prune off the rest so the mother plant can direct more energy into fruit production and produce only the daughter plants you want.

  1. To root stolons in pots, pick no more than four strong stolons from each healthy strawberry plant and extend the stolons from the mother plant.
  2. Fill 3-inch pots with fresh potting soil.
  3. On each runner, select a healthy daughter plant that is closest to the mother plant.
  4. Underneath the daughter plant, use a trowel to dig a hole big enough to bury one of the pots in.
  5. Place the pot in the hole so that the rim is level with the bottom.
  6. Attach the runner to the soil in the pot with a 6-inch piece of galvanized wire bent into a U-shape. Don’t cut the stolon between the mother plant and daughter plant, but you should pinch off the end of the stolon that is sticking out above the pot.
  7. Water the pots and keep the soil moist to encourage root growth.
  8. In four to six weeks, the daughter plants should have an established root system, allowing you to cut the strawberry stolon from the mother plant.
  9. After another week, transplant each daughter plant where you want it to grow.
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The easiest way to plant strawberry runners

The strawberry planting system that is the easiest to set up and maintain is the matted row system. Growing strawberries using this method involves spacing the plants 18 to 24 inches apart in the row, with three to four feet between rows. This gives the plants plenty of room to set stolons, which ultimately allows the plants to be refilled with new growth each year. You can let the daughter plants grow where they naturally grow, or you can direct the stolons to a specific spot and stick them in the soil. While this is a fairly handy way to refresh your strawberry patch, it’s still a good idea to remove all but a few runners from each plant to keep fruit production going.

Plant stolons from potted strawberries

Due to their small size, strawberry plants also thrive in containers. The best container for growing strawberries is a strawberry pot, which offers multiple pockets and tiers to plant different varieties of strawberries. You can direct runners to an empty pocket to start a new daughter plant and fill your strawberry planter.

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