Starting Strawberry Plants from Runners
Use 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.
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.