Strawberry Plants Producing Runners but no Strawberries?

Strawberry Plants Producing Runners but no StrawberriesA common complaint of new strawberry growers is that their strawberry plants aren’t producing strawberries.  They have planted them, provided them tender loving care, and waited expectantly for them to return the “love” by setting a harvest of nice, plump, juicy strawberries.

And then no strawberries come.  You may have lots of leafy greens and too many strawberry runners shooting out to count, but the strawberries themselves are sadly absent.

Here are the top 10 reasons your strawberry plants aren’t producing strawberries.  It is likely that your situation will fall into one of these:

10 Reasons Strawberry Plants Don’t Produce Strawberries

1. Strawberry plants are too young

June-bearing strawberry plants will often produce few or no strawberries in the first year they are planted.  This is, in fact good for the long-term health of your plants and strawberry bed.  The energy that goes into a strawberry is not insignificant for a young strawberry plant.  Since strawberries are perennials that will produce a crop year after year, the best use of developmental energy is in establishing a strong, healthy root system and flower buds within the crown.  The better root system will exponentially increase the nutrient uptake for the second year.  And, those roots will be needed as the flower buds will turn into flowers that will turn into strawberries in year two.  This is why it is important to pinch off strawberry flowers in year one as described on the Growing Strawberries page.  Doing this in year one allows development of more buds and better roots.  This makes the plant healthy.  The healthy plant will then set a much larger harvest than it otherwise would without them.

2. Your strawberry plants have diseases or parasites or both

There are a host of strawberry pests and pathogens that literally suck the life out of strawberries.  In fact, you can view the most common ones on the Strawberry Plant page.  If your strawberries have an infection or infestation, they may simply be too sick to produce strawberries.

3. Your strawberries are thirsty (or drowning)

Strawberries can be finicky when it comes to their water requirements.  They have relatively shallow root systems.  This causes them to absorb the vast majority of their water from the top several inches of soil.  This is also the soil that dries out most quickly when the temperatures rise.  Since strawberry plants require a significant and steady amount of water (see the Growing Strawberries page, linked above) to produce best, constant drying out of the top layers of soil can cause the plants to go into “survival mode.”  They don’t produce many or good quality strawberries in dry dirt (if they survive).  Additionally, too much watering will halt plant growth and strawberry production.  In fact, the strawberry crowns will rot, and the plants will die if they remain in standing water for too long.  It is important to plant your strawberry plants in well-drained soil to prevent standing water from submerging any part of the strawberry plant.

4. Your strawberries aren’t getting pollinated

Most of the common varieties of strawberry plants have hermaphroditic flowers, meaning they have both “male” and “female” parts.  However, the flowers typically act as either male or female, not both.  This means that pollen from one flower has to make to to another flower in order for the strawberry to form.  So, if a strawberry plant is kept indoors in a window or outdoors on a screened in porch (or anywhere else where the pollinating insects won’t be successfully drawn to your plant, you likely won’t have any strawberries.

5. Your strawberry plants are starving

Strawberry plants are amazing.  They can manage to eke out their existence in some of the harshest places on earth.  In fact, one of my own crazy strawberry runners once rooted itself in the shelf of a cheap, pressboard bookshelf.  It had nothing to eat other than wood chips and whatever glue they use to stick those things together.  To my amazement, it survived and grew well.  It actually was only a inch or so smaller than the other runner plants put out from the same mother plant.  But, when the other plants fruited, this one did nothing.  In fact, it didn’t even produce a flower.  All that to say: your strawberry plants need the right nutrients.  Without the appropriate organic components, the plant may still grow, but it won’t provide you with any strawberries.

6. Your strawberry plants are high on NPK

Giving your strawberries too much food can also hurt strawberry production.  The Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium (NPK) fertilizers are generally formulated for specific growing purposes.  Using fertilizers that are of the wrong concentrations for strawberry plants, or even using way to much of an appropriate fertilizer can decrease strawberry production.  Often, the fertilizers cause excessive vegetative growth at the expense of strawberry production.  After all, why should the strawberry plant worry about propagating itself via strawberry seeds if it has so many nutrients tickling its roots that it can’t even think straight?

7. Your climate is wrong for strawberries

Most strawberries grown at the equator are grown at high elevations where it is cooler.  I don’t think it is possible for them to grow on Antarctica without serious human interventions.  While a few populated places on earth are completely unsuitable for any type of strawberry growth, strawberries will grow just about everywhere else.  If, however, the preferred combination of warmth and coolness is not attained, many varieties will not produce strawberries.  Most strawberry cultivars do best when the days are warm to hot (but not scorching) and the nights are cool to slightly warm.  This combination of warm days and cool nights will almost always result in the maximal strawberry production for almost any strawberry variety.  If you live somewhere where it is too hot, the plants may still grow, but the strawberries may be sparse or absent.

8. Your strawberry plant variety is wrong for your climate

Strawberry breeding programs around the world are constantly trying to increase local yields by developing more suitable strawberry plants for specific regions.  This goal is often attained.  However, in creating specialized strawberry cultivars, some of the overall adaptability of these plants is bred out or lost.  When that happens, the new cultivars are sometimes successful only in specific climactic regions.  Buying a strawberry developed for Michigan strawberry growers, for example, may not grow well in southern Florida.  When the plants don’t thrive, they often don’t fruit.

9. Your strawberry plants don’t like their home

Strawberry plants will grow well in containers.  If they are properly cared for, that is.  Container strawberries often do not have sufficient soil.  Their soil will dry out much more quickly than in-ground strawberry plants.  Their roots can get too hot.  If planted in nutrient deficient or poor strawberry-quality soil, the plants won’t be happy.  Regardless of whether a strawberry plant is planted in an inhospitable pot or inhospitable plot, the lack of a suitable home that results in any of the conditions above will diminish or eliminate berry production.  Unhappy plants don’t readily produce strawberries.

10. You’ve been duped, lied to, or are misinformed

Occasionally, nurseries that sell strawberry plants get their facts mixed up.  If they sell a June-bearing strawberry variety to a customer wanting an everbearing variety so that they can have a decent crop toward the end of the season, the buyer will be frustrated when no strawberries come forth.  Be sure to check the characteristics of the cultivar you want to plant to make sure it is what you think it is and that it will perform well in your climate.  A great place to start is the Strawberry Varieties page.

So, if there are no strawberries on strawberry plants you have planted, or strawberry plants producing runners but no strawberries, evaluate each of the 10 reasons above and see if they apply to your situation.  If they do, remedying the problem will likely result in reaping a harvest!

124 thoughts on “Strawberry Plants Producing Runners but no Strawberries?

  1. Hi!
    I planted alpine strawberries several years ago and they produced the first year and second somewhat but since then I have been getting nothing. They spread like crazy and look very healthy; not too vigorous but also no yellowing leaves. My soil is not overly fertilized and they have been getting adequate watering. I had one rogue one that went into a stone pathway that has been producing a lot! But none of the other plants have any strawberries! I saw lots of flowers this year and so was hopeful, but nothing produced. I’m not sure if I should rip them all out, seems like a shame. Please help! Thanks!!!

  2. Hi,
    How many leaves does the plant usually form before the first flower buds appear? There is conflicting info in the net.. Many thanks!

  3. My strawberry plants are enormous. They measure 30 inches tall. They look incredibly healthy, yellow blooms and i can see little tiny beginnings of strawberries, hundreds of the,…..But it’s been like this for close to a month. They act like they are stunted. Which, since 2012, all my garden, tomatoes, peppers, etc, take AT LEAST twice as long to produce……..Anyone have strawberries this tall and will it still produce strawberries sometime this year….they are everbearing….

  4. Hi why do all my strawberries come together I get lots of fruit for about 2 weeks
    I have planted early / mid / and late varietys also for the last 3 years I have source from different nursery people and they still all come in June and then Finnish for the year.
    All I want to do is get strawberries all season long .
    Many thanks billy

  5. make sure your space them out in rows seem to get more strawberries from suckers spaced out and replanted then just a big clump of plants i guess its easier for insects to pollinate the flowers that way

  6. Please advise …. best position and how to plant a strawberry raised ‘garden’?
    I have several plants, which are all producing many runners, no fruit, as they are in 4 large pots.

    I live in Italy, the area around me has little shade, but it can get very windy, and very hot. Should I make a partial shade for them? What is best to cover and protect them with when the snow arrives?

    What is the best way to keep snails at bay?

    Many thanks ?

  7. Hi there
    I have been trying to grow strawberries for a few months now from plants, no seeds. I have placed them in a homemade planter inside my greenhouse, and at first did get a few strawberries. But now all i am getting is lots of greeny leaves and runners. I have tried to minimise the amount of new runners by removing them to help the production of strawberries. Do you suggest i move the planter outside of the green house or do they tend to grow better inside ?

    • lee broadstock,
      Your plants were likely June-bearing plants. That type of plant produces berries for a few weeks and then stops until next year. The overall harvest with June-bearing plants is typically greater than either day-neutral or everbearing plants, but it can be frustrating getting all of your strawberries at one time. If you care for the plants appropriately, you should get a better harvest next spring. Good luck!

  8. Can you please recommend a fertilizer for strawberry plants?
    What do you think about using fish emulsion?
    How often should a fertilizer be applied?
    And does the age of the strawberry plant matter with the type of fertilizer you use?
    Thank You!

  9. I purchased plants 2 years ago. They were for the zone where I live. For two years the plants are nice but no berries. I had the soil tested. No problem.
    Any ideas?

    • Virginia Hayes,
      Temperature fluctuations and irregular watering can also affect the production rate. If the plants were planted from seed, they can take longer to produce berries. However, at this point, you should be having a harvest! I would recommend reading through this material to see if everything is as it should be. Good luck!

  10. Everything in my strawberry plant is good. It yielded strawberries in 1st year but pests ate the fruit. After then,no flowers or buds grew except for runners. What should I do?

    • bipasha chakrabarti,
      If you lost the fruit to insects, you might want to try frequent applications of food-grade diatomaceous earth. If you lost them to bigger pests, you might need to use bird netting. It is normal for June-bearing strawberries to only produce one major crop per year. If that is what you have (most common), just wait until next spring. If you want, you can transplant the runners to multiply your plants. Good luck!

  11. Hi

    I just started to pick my strawberry, but I notice that there is a decrease in yield and the foliar growth with runners. with my experience I think I over fertilized with Nitrogen. I just want to confirm that if I use phosphorus fertilizer can lock up nitrogen?

    • Kwanda,
      I’m not sure exactly what you are asking. Most commercial fertilizers have a 3-number rating, 10-10-10, for example. The numbers represent the amount of Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (or N-P-K / NPK) in the fertilizer. I don’t think adding a high-phosphorus additive to a soil already saturated with nitrogen will significantly lock up (bind?) the nitrogen. Good luck!

  12. Hi Mr. Strawberry. What nutrients are needed to induce flowers? What i need to do to have a larger fruit. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Michael,
      To get flowers, the plants need to have optimal conditions the fall before the spring that you want to harvest strawberries. Strawberry flowers begin as perennating buds in the crown of the strawberry plant the autumn before they are harvested. So, if you have very stressed strawberry plants in September, October, and November, they may not form many or any flower buds. And, if they aren’t formed in the fall, they won’t flower the following spring. For big strawberries, make sure they get full sun, appropriate water, and plenty of nutrients from a sandy loam soil with high organic matter. Good luck!

  13. hi,
    can i plant strawberry in January and expect fruits after 3 months, say april? i am from the philippines. what variety i can plant that bears fruit all year round?

    thanks

    • Christopher Pascual,
      I am not familiar with your particular climate, so I can’t say for sure. However, you will need more time than three months before your plants will fruit unless they are already well-established in pots. Day-neutral varieties like Tribute and Tristar can be induced to fruit all year round with the right application of light and controlled temperatures. Good luck!

      • Hi!
        I’m from just outside of Sydney Australia and have been growing strawberries for a while in a fashion. But this season I’ve come across something I’ve never seen before. My strawberries while they are still green are sprouting growth from their seeds. It looks quite odd and I am wondering what the cause might be and if there is anything I can do?

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