Strawberry Plant Propagation

strawberry propagationThere are three main ways to propagate strawberry plants.  The plants can be divided and transplanted once multiple crowns have been grown (or division of rhizomes), new plants can be grown from strawberry seeds, or the runners that strawberry plants put out can be controlled, guided, and caused to root where clone plants can be utilized most efficiently.

There are positives and negatives about propagating strawberries with each method, all of which will be briefly discussed.  However, to offer the bottom line up front, most gardeners will find that the easiest way is to propagate strawberry plants by runner.

Strawberry Propagation by Plant Division

Many types of strawberry plants will, either by nature or if encouraged by pruning runners, put out lateral crowns at the base of the strawberry plant.  These lateral crowns can be divided and replanted to propagate strawberry plants.  Additionally, the genetically generative rhizomes of strawberry plants can, under the right circumstances, be divided into multiple pieces with each piece being sufficient to grow a new plant.

There are, however, several drawbacks to this type of strawberry propagation.  Often, the mother plant will be compromised (if not done correctly) and will die.  Thus, the net increase of strawberry plants is diminished.  Also, it tends to be more labor-intensive and technical as the division or cutting takes both precision and a bit of expertise.  However, for well-funded or commercial operations, this division can be used to propagate cloned plants quickly and extensively.

Strawberry Propagation by Planting Strawberry Seeds

Visit the Strawberry Seeds page for the details on how to plant and start strawberry seeds and the Growing Strawberries page for help propagating strawberry plants by nurturing the seedlings into viable, mature strawberry plants.

Growing strawberries from seeds has the potential for vast numbers of new strawberry plants to be grown.  Each strawberry has approximately 200 seeds adorning its outer surface.  While unusual for every seed to be viable, that is still a lot of new plants from a single strawberry.  Starting strawberry seeds will require most of the standard seed-starting equipment to be used.  And, while starting strawberry seeds often requires a few more considerations than does starting common garden vegetables from seeds, it is not overly difficult.

The major drawback of strawberry propagation by seed is the nature of today’s common strawberry cultivars (visit the Strawberry Plant page for the history).  Once the Garden Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) became the dominant strawberry grown in both home gardens and commercial operations, the seeds became unreliable due to the crossbreeding used to obtain the improved strawberry varieties.  This means that attempting to grow strawberry plants from seeds that were collected from a purchased strawberry will likely not produce true plants.  In other words, the plants grown from seed will be different from the plant that produced the seeds (sometimes substantially so).  The seed-propagated strawberry plants will exhibit genetic traits of the grandparent plants instead of the desired parent plant.  The wild strawberry species are an exception to this and will produce plants true-to-form.  However, their fruits are much smaller, in general, and not recognized by most as the “strawberries” that are commonly bought and consumed today.

Strawberry Propagation by Runners

Growing strawberry plants from a runner is, for most, the easiest and quickest way to propagate strawberries.  Most of the June-bearing, everbearing, and day-neutral varieties produce runners.  Some of the wild strawberry varieties do not and must be propagated by seed.  But, in general, if someone buys a strawberry plant, it will produce at least a few runners.

The strawberry runners are stolons.  These horizontal stems are sent outward from the base of the strawberry plants.  At variable distances new strawberry plants will form (at nodes).  This is possible because of a strawberry plant’s ability to form adventitious roots.  These specialized roots are formed at the nodes along a runner.  Wherever these roots touch nutritious soil, they will continue to grow into that soil and establish a new clone plant that genetically identical to the plant that originally sent forth the runner.

Due to this aspect of runners, it is relatively easy to propagate strawberry plants using them.  The long, flexible intermodal parts of the runners allows them to be bent and positioned according to the desire of the gardener.  To collect new clone strawberry plants, all one has to do is direct the runners so that the adventitious roots will grow down into a separate, moveable container.

Any small container or pot properly filled with a sandy loam soil will work.  It can be buried so that the strawberry plant runner will stay at ground level, or the pot/container can be placed on top of the ground so that it is more easily removed once the new strawberry plant is well-rooted and established.  Either way, the runner can be held in place by clothespins, rocks, a pile of dirt, a couple of sticks, or anything else suitable for keeping the runner in position and the node portion in contact with the soil.

Once the adventitious root has established the new clone plant, separate the new plant from the mother strawberry plant by snipping the runner.  If it has been established for a while, the runners will eventually shrivel and snap on their own.  But, as long as the new plant is well-rooted, no growth will be hindered by snipping or snapping the runners.

Voila!  You now have a new, transportable strawberry plant that you can sell, use to start a new strawberry bed, or use in some other imaginative way!

Strawberry Plant Propagation: Conclusion

For a new gardener, strawberry propagation by runner is usually the easiest and most successful means of acquiring new plants from existing ones.  But, don’t hesitate to try the others if up to the challenge.  Also, not all strawberry plants produce the same amount of runners.  Check the Strawberry Varieties page for more details on specific cultivars, and, once you find one you like, you can find a supplier by using the Strawberry Plants for Sale page.

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54 comments to Strawberry Plant Propagation

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Cate,
    Make the area with poor drainage an elevated bed to assist in clearing water from the roots. Good luck!

  • Cate

    The area that my strawberries have to go in has poor soil drainage on 1/3 of the area. What could I do to the soil to make it better for the strawberries that I want to put transplant there this August? Thank you!

  • Mr. Strawberry

    mark tapert,
    You can store them, but you’ll need to induce dormancy first. It is easier to allow them to root where they are, continue growing their roots into the soil (the more roots the better, usually), and then carefully dig them up once they have gone dormant with the colder weather after the growing season has ended. This might help also: storing bare-root plants. Good luck!

  • mark tapert

    My original plants have spread and now new plants are growing on their own outside of their growing tire. Can I pull the plants up and trim their tops and store the rhizomes for winter? That way in the spring they can be planted else where. Also how and in what would you recommend storing them?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Jack Breeden,
    Yes, but only if there are no other options available. Leaves harbor fungus and can end up introducing pathogens that will kill your plants. I’d use anything else first, even shredded newspaper will work fine. Good luck!

  • Jack Breeden

    After cutting back the plants before winter, can leaves be used for mulch?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    stella,
    If the roots and plants are healthy, then yes. As long as you take care to overwinter them properly, they should do just fine. Good luck!

  • stella

    I have cut off runners with really well rooted plants attached, have cut them off the runners and planted the new plants in pots (0nly for the time being). Are they likely to survive?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    james larsen,
    You can use the runners. They are genetically identical to the parent plants from which they come. So, if the parent plant produces good fruit, the genetically identical daughter plant will as well. The instructions are misleading. Good luck!

  • james larsen

    How can a home gardener propagate Seascape strawberry plants? My instructions say that runners should not be used because these plants produce few fruit.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Ms. Fairfax,
    Give it time! It will probably send out at least a runner or two prior to the end of the season and dormancy. Good luck!

  • Ms. Fairfax

    Mr. Strawberry, I am in Arizona and the plant has been growing well since February when I received it. The temps here have already been in the 100′s and I want to protect the plant so it’s currently in cold storage. I will be replanting it in June in Minnesota to “extend” the season on it.
    My main purpose is to tissue culture it. I’ve been doing a very small scale home lab tissue culture. The benefit is MANY plants in a very short time. The best part to utilize is the meristem of a runner as most likely disease growth (if any) has not caught up to the runner growth in addition to the rapid growth formation coming from the meristem. It is likely that the potential for hundreds of plants to be rapidly propagated this way. It’s a fun experiment but man!!! that plant does NOT want to give up a runner!

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Ms. Fairfax,
    Yes, tissue culturing should create a clone, but it is more difficult than simply dividing crowns or collecting runners. The growing season is young yet, so they might produce runners later on. Good luck!

  • Ms. Fairfax

    So, in lieu of a runner, the rhizome propagation can be done in tissue culture? I have a “Fairfax”…yes…yes I do, and it is refusing making any runners…but it has made a second crown. Would tissue culturing it be as effective as the runners?

  • Richard

    If you reduce the light the plant gets to less than 12 hours and a complete 12 hours of dark I think it will fruit.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Pankaj Pandit,
    From what you tell me, it sounds as if your plants did indeed die. Strawberry plants will usually send out runners each year as a means of propagating themselves. You may want to read the Growing Strawberries reference page when you plant your new plants. Good luck!

  • Pankaj Pandit

    Sir ! I actually have few strawberry plants out of which two are mother plants and the rest are daughter plants. They have producing great fruit, but few days back I tried to fertilise them so I added some urea to a mug of water and used it on the roots of strawberry plants but with in few days, all the plants died. I had never though that this could happed. It has been 9 days and they are completely dead now. I am not sure if I should wait for them for next few dats or should I replace them with new ones?? I have now thought that to replace them with new ones. Please suggest. Secondly, I wanted to know if the Mother strawberry plant produces runners every year or does it produce the runners only in the first year?? Please reply soon.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    David,
    In warmer climates strawberries can be planted as an annual. If your area is too hot to allow them to survive the summer heat, I’d recommend seeing what you can harvest this year. After all, some strawberries is better than the none you’d get if your plants die before next year! Arizona is a tougher place to grow strawberries, but it might not hurt to try planting a bit earlier than November next year and see if and extra month or two in the ground will produce better results. As for removing blossoms, go ahead and let them set fruit. They probably won’t be as numerous or large as they might otherwise be, but they’ll still be tasty! Either way, good luck!

  • David

    I have planted a raised bed of 100 plants (Chandler variety) in Mesa Arizona in mid November. The plants are doing well and starting to bloom (as of February 1). Everything I read recommends removing the blossoms the first year but in Arizona the plants will likely not survive the summer heat. I expect I have about 2 to 3 months before the plants will burn. My question – do I remove any blossoms at all or the first ones on each plant?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Amber,
    These are the most common reasons: healthy plants, no strawberries. Good luck!

  • Amber

    What are the most common reasons for low fruit yields with really abundant healthy looking strawberry plants. Growing in new mexico.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Jane,
    If they were still alive when you picked them up off the dump pile, they will probably grow and produce. However, whoever threw them away might have done so because they were already dead or diseased. If you want to be sure to get some that will grow for you, you can buy living plants from any of the suppliers in the directory here: Buy Strawberry Plants. Good luck!

  • Jane

    I found some discarded strawberry plants on a dump, so I divided the clumps and planted about 12 small plants in my garden,will these grow and produce strawberries as with the plants you can buy ?

  • Jim

    Thanks for the ideas, I have looked in both posts and will try a few things. I also noticed the post from Babit and just wanted to mention that I have had some luck cutting the runners when they have just started putting out stubby roots and placing them in a shallow dish with just enough water to cover the base. I change the water every 2 days until they have established root systems and then I transplanted them outdoors. I have about a 60 percent success rate which is not great but it does work.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Jim,
    These posts might be helpful: Transplanting Strawberries, Overwintering Strawberries. Good luck!

  • Jim

    I have two types of strawberries in my gardens and each is in its own area. One of the types has proven to be better suited to my needs than the other and I want to use the runners to develop additional plants for next year. I have had success keeping the runners moist after separating them from the mother plant and planting them before frost and gotten good crops in the spring. Is there a better way to root the runners and keep them in a cool(65degree) garage during winter so I can plant them in the spring? I am moving my strawberry beds to another section of the garden, but won’t have it ready till spring.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Ryan,
    Absolutely!

  • Ryan

    If my runner plants are transplanted in there beds this fall can I harvest berries from these plants next year? Or is it better to pinch the flowers off next spring for better root development?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    babit,
    Too much rain will kill strawberry plants. The soil needs to drain well for the plants to do well. Also, you have to let the runner plants establish themselves and their root systems prior to snipping the runner going back to the mother plant. The runners will shrivel and become obsolete once the new clone plant’s roots are functioning adequately. That is the time to cut and transplant the daughter plants. Good luck!

  • babit

    Hi,
    I am a social worker and have plated strawberries under a social project for low marginal farmer under my own finance …I want to propagate the strawberry saplings so I can distribute it more to the farmers…I have cut the runners and put it on the pot filled with compost but it has started dying also I cannot leave it on the farm to let it establish its root itself as lots of weeds have covered the garden….So what I have done is the runner which have visible roots I cut them and plant them on posts and keep it in a dark place …but it isnt working and even the mother platns are dying please help …our place rceieves heavy rainfall…

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Ken,
    Unfortunately, you cannot just cut the runners and replant them elsewhere. They have to be rooted first and established prior to severing the runner from the mother plant. If you find some small cups, fill them with dirt, and force them to remain in contact with the adventitious root at the underside of each node, they will root. Once rooted, you can transplant them. You might be able to even devise a system to hang the small cups from the planter until the runners can be cut. Good luck!

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Steve,
    Yes, the rooting node at the runner joint will not survive if it is separated from the mother plant prior to establishing its root system in the soil.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Gayle,
    No, unfortunately, this will not work with strawberries.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    PS,
    I know of now method of inducing strawberry plants to produce at a certain time. If you discover one, please do let me know.

  • Ken

    I started a hanging planter of strawberries, They come off the sides and grow outward. I am getting a little fruit and they seem healthy. What I want to know is how to replant the runners in a system like this. I cant cut the runners off and replant them somewhere else can I?

  • Steve Jones

    I would like to propagate from runners that will come from tissue cultured plants to produce a less expensive plant to sell in Africa to the farmers. My question is do they root from a cutting if I clip at the joint on the runner that would normally root in the soil. I read everywhere that it needs to be connected to the mother plant. Thank s in advance

  • Gayle

    hello, I have propageted pineapples by cutting the top off, soaking it in water and then planting the top in sandy soil. Can I do this with a strawberry?

  • PS CHOO

    Hi Mr strawberry
    I am growing strawberry in high altitude (1100 m) in Malaysia. How can I wanted the plant to produce strawberry at the time I needed? Like in x’mas? Is there any method to control ?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Chazz,
    Maybe, but it is easier to do it by following the instructions on the Strawberry Seeds page.

  • Chazz Offman

    If I cut the top green leafs off of the top of a strawberry, and plant it in rich soil, will it grow into a productive plant? Can you please e-mail me to let me know ? Thanking you in advance. CHAZZ

  • Mr. Strawberry

    bob,
    Yes, if your garage doesn’t drop well below freezing, they should stay alive as long as you keep them from drying out completely. Also, see this post on topsy turvy strawberries and this one on storing bare-root strawberry plants for related and possibly beneficial information.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Kari,
    The adventitious root at the tip of the node where the daughter plant (runner plant) will develop really needs some sort of growing medium. When the root contacts soil or any other favorable substrate, it will naturally root without the aid of any hormone powder. However, if you cut the connective stolon too soon, the developing nodal plant will not likely have enough strength to survive on its own and will, consequently, die. You could try hanging something between your hydroponic towers or using tape to stick a light-weight pot with some soil in it to the side of your towers where the runners are hanging so that they can be directed their to root.

  • bob hanson

    i planted strawberrys in topsy turvy this spring. very few strawberrys, but plants look good. if i move to garage for winter, will they survive?

  • Kari Vorster

    If I grow strawberries on a vertical tower hydroponic there is no space to put the pot for the runner to grow in as it is in mid air – how do I popogate runners can I cut them and replant do I need to dip it in hormone powder.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Reza,
    See the Growing Strawberries page to learn about the best soil type for strawberry plants. Most strawberry plants will produce runners. In fact, there are only a few commercially available ones that do not. To learn more about that, see the Strawberry Varieties page and this page about Strawberry Runners.

  • Reza

    hi, i want to produce strawberry runners, but i dont know what kind of soil is required for it and how should i fertilize the soil for best result, guide me please

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Adrian,
    When you harvest your strawberries, you do not need to trim back the stalk to which the strawberry used to be attached. It will turn brown and eventually die back. As for strawberry runners, it depends on which strawberry variety you are growing. June-bearers will often produce lots of runners, while varieties of everbearing and day-neutral strawberries will often produce fewer. A few strawberry species produce no runners and have to be propagated by seed (but it is unlikely that yours is of this type). If you keep the plants alive for a full year, at some point you will likely see it produce runners depending on where you live, your climate, etc.

  • Adrian

    I have 2 strawberry plants which are doing very well! I grow them in a length of PVC pipe which keeps the strawberries off the ground and works really well. My question is when i take the strawberry off the plant do i just leave the stork on the plant or do i trim it back? also, i don’t seem to be getting any runners? Thanks, Adrian.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Troy,
    Strawberry production varies greatly depending on the climate, cultivar, and conditions in which you grow the strawberry plants. If you are asking about production during the first year a plant is in the ground (if planted in the spring), you shouldn’t get any production. The flowers should be pinched off to ensure maximal root establishment and maximum flower bud formation for harvest the following year. If you are asking about a runner plant that establishes itself (or is planted) prior to winter, the following spring should bring a full harvest from your plants.

  • Troy

    What kind of production can you expect off the first year of a plant propagated from a runner?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Anne,
    It is best to thin the plants out so that only about 4 are left per square foot (no more than 6 per square foot). But, don’t toss the extras! You can replant them easily or give them away to friends and neighbors who have a spare pot sitting around. This may help: Transplanting Strawberries.

  • Anne

    Planted strawberry plants (June bearing) this spring in a 4×4 foot raised bed. Besides weeding, I have not tended to the strawberry plants, and now, due to all of the runners, it is a mass of plants. Is it okay to leave it this way, or should I remove a bunch of the new plants?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Usman,
    Thanks for visiting Strawberry Plants .org! Unfortunately, I don’t know too much about the strawberry seed business. I do, however, know of quite a few places where you can buy strawberry seeds online. Contacting a few of those companies might help! Additionally, if you are interested in new varieties, you might find this post beneficial: How New Strawberry Varieties Are Developed. I hope that helps!

  • sir i want to do business of strawberry seeds in pakistan and introduce new verities in pakistan please help me in running business of strawberry seeds and suggest me which one company is best in strawberry seeds

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