How to Grow Strawberries From Runners

Strawberry Propagation With Plant Runners

May 7, 2020

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Ah, the juiciness and aroma of home-grown strawberries is beyond compare. Notice how the plants send out runners over the soil surface?  We can use these to quickly raise new plants for an even bigger harvest! Read our article (with video demo) for steps on growing new strawberry plants from runners.

How to Grow New Strawberry Plants from Runners

Your strawberry plants will start sending out long, leafless stalks called runners. Each runner has a tiny plant at the end. This 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.

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.

Raising Your New Strawberry Plants

After about a month to six weeks, a small strawberry planlet will have started to grow new leaves, so it’s time to cut it free from the parent plant.

Grow the young plant 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 and then planted out in spring, which is particularly useful if winters are harsh in your area.

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Strawberries become less productive over time, so you need to grow more plants from runners every 3 to 4 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!

For more information, see the Almanac’s Strawberry Growing Guide.

Learn more about how you can grow your own food—with the Almanac Garden Planner!

Reader Comments

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Runners

I started a strawberry garden for the first time this year. I used straw bales as my garden for I don’t have a lot of room to plant in the ground. I fertilized the bales and heavy watered them for the first 3 weeks before planting. The plants took off and now I have healthy plants with a lot of runners. The runners either self planted in the straw or I gave the a little help by pushing them into the straw so they take root. Next year I should have plenty of strawberries and the good part I don’t have to bend over to pick them. Anyone that don’t have the space or can’t bend over for a long time the straw bale method works. I built mine in a pyramid style so I can plant the runners in the side of the bales also.

Using the runners

Can I use all runners to have more plants? Does it make a difference if they are from year one? I didn't realize I should cut them off and I have lots. If I can use them, must you leave them connected to parent plant while rooting them or can they be removed and used?

Strawberry overwintering

Can I overwinter my potted plants in my garage? I live in Michigan 48316 USA

overwintering strawberries

The Editors's picture

Yes, if your garage is unheated, you can place your containerized strawberry plant pot near an interior wall. Water every 3 weeks or so, until spring. If your garage gets super-cold, you can add a little insulation around the pot, such as bags of leaves, and a little straw mulch on top.

Planting runners

Is it too late to root and cut my strawberry runners in Pensylvannia where we are expecting some frost?
Thanks

strawberries

I bought 3 plants this year which have no runners. Is there still a way that I can produce more plants from them?

dividing strawberries

Catherine Boeckmann's picture

It’s not recommended divide strawberry plants, so the best thing to do would be to ensure your plants are well settled in to their new home and propagate from runners next year. In spring, when growth starts, mulch them with compost and once they begin to flower give them an occasional feed of tomato fertilizer to help with fruiting and general plant health.

About 7-years ago, someone

About 7-years ago, someone gave me three strawberry plants. I planted them in the center of three rows and planted down the runners as they appeared.

My original plants are long gone, but I easily have over 30 high yield strawberry plants. All FREE and since they are determinate, I have plenty to make pies, jams, etc. with plenty to freeze. Some years I even get two harvests.

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