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!

120 thoughts on “Strawberry Plants Producing Runners but no Strawberries?”

  1. It would be great if you tell me How i can get a lot of runners? My strawbeeries planted hydroponic.which supplement should i use to get more runners. Thanks

    Reply
    • nushin,
      Sometimes runners are slower to bolt in hydroponically-grown strawberries. However, most varieties will still produce them, you just have to wait a bit longer, usually. You can try increasing the NPK content in your system slightly as excess nitrogen, in particular, can sometimes get the plants to put out runners. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. dear Mr Strawberry .
    I planted some strawberries earlier this year and its way past time for them to grow and I still don’t have any flowers on them.they should of bloomed by now what should i do to getsome berries

    Reply
    • Wanda Nuttall,
      Strawberry flowers for any given year come from the perennating buds that are formed within the crown of the strawberry plant the year before during the fall season. If your plants aren’t producing any flowers, then the buds probably didn’t form last fall. That is common with mail-order plants as they are sometimes grown using propagation methods that haven’t allowed sufficient time to pass for the buds to form. So, the best thing to do is to take care of your plants well this summer and make sure that they have everything they need this fall. If you do that, your plants should form a lot of buds which will then turn into a big harvest for you next spring. Good luck!

      Reply
  3. I bought “hula berry’s” and plain strawberries from Home Depot. I planted them in a big container that drains well and they are all doing quite well. They have big dark green leaves and are producing runners everywhere- but no fruit is producing. If I should hold out to next year to expect fruit, how should I store the plants during the winter? I live in a cold climate with ample snow fall in the winter months.

    Reply
    • Lexie Manke,
      You can store them in an unheated garage near an inner house wall. You should get a full harvest next year. Go ahead and trim the runners as soon as they form, however, unless you are planning on rooting them. Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Mr. Strawberry
    Planted 10 plants from menards in a cast iron tub. Farm soil, peer, chicken manure, sand…growing deep green and vibrant. Tons of leaves, runners. Initially we were getting several beauties bright red every couple days now they are just getting white & some are shriveling up. But everything else is thriving. Help!

    Reply
    • Stephanie Waibel,
      You may have a pest infestation that is either feeding on the berries themselves or the stems. You may want to try sprinkling a liberal amount of diatomaceous earth around them and see if that helps. Good luck!

      Reply
  5. Hi!
    I bought some “hula berry’s” from Home Depot on a whim. They are a type of strawberry, I believe. I planted them in a big container that drains well and they are doing quite well. They have beautiful leaves and are producing runners like crazy- which I have been pinching off in hopes that it would begin producing berries. It has not. Should I move the plants to a strawberry pot or leave them in the traditional pot that they are in?
    Thanks
    Jennifer

    Reply
    • Jennifer Ratliff,
      If they are growing well, I’d leave them be. The flowers and strawberries come from perennating buds that are produced in the crown the previous fall. So, since it sounds like your plants are healthy and thriving, I’d let them stay where they are right now. You should have a bumper crop next spring! Good luck!

      Reply
  6. Hello

    Have 4 varieties of June bearing strawberries. Planted them as plugs last fall. Plants are lush. Saw a few strawberries early this month. No more and no more flowers. Are they done for the year? If so, why such poor production.

    Reply
    • Scott,
      More than likely, they are done producing. You may get a smattering of berries here and there, but the main fruiting crop is likely done at this point. If your plants entered dormancy prior to being able to establish themselves, they likely had to spend most of the spring getting well-rooted. Also, since spring flowers and strawberries come from the perrenating buds that are formed during the previous autumn, the stress of transplanting may have caused your plants to not produce as many of the buds within the crown last fall (and consequently fewer strawberries this spring). Also, if you have too much nitrogen in your soil, your strawberry plants may be happy with their vegetative growth and produce few strawberries (this probably isn’t the cause in your case). Regardless, if you keep your plants healthy this summer and fall and winter, I’d expect you to have a bumper crop next spring! Good luck!

      Reply
  7. hi mr strawberry i have a strawberry plant which we bought from somewhere i don’t know which type is it but the first year produced some sour strawberries but this year there is no blooms we went for a trip last year and no one looked after it and it was dry when we came back and today it’s getting new leaves but the old leaves are like they are falling to the ground should i buy plant food or is it to late will it get blooms next year or is it never going to bear any more strawberries please help me mr strawberry i want some sweet juicy strawberries i live in manipur inside manipur i live in imphal the climate of imphal is 29 degrees is it too cold or too hot for my loving strawberry plant and it doesn’t get any runners i want some runners please help anybody

    Reply
    • norika,
      First, most of your questions will be answered by reading this. Second, if you water and care for you plants, they will likely recover from the recent stress to give you both strawberries and runners. Good luck!

      Reply
  8. My strawberry plants are growing really well with lots of flowers outside in my garden bed. But the flowers don’t turn into strawberries. They just get little black dots on them and die? Why could this be. The little insides of the flowers look like a green strawberry is starting to develop and then where the little dots are that I think would eventually become the seeds on the outside of the strawberry the little dots turn black and the flower eventually dies. Can you help me with what could be wrong. I live in Melbourne Australia and the same plants had strawberries last year but now that the plants are bigger, greener and Luther, with more flowers, I would have expected even more strawberries this year. Thankyou. Many kind regardz
    Andrew hyde

    Reply
    • Hi Andrew,

      It is most likely that your strawberries aren’t getting pollinated at all, perhaps you can introduce some varieties of flowers nearby to attract bees or lady bugs that also stop by your strawberries to pollinate the flowers. If you have time however, then you can simply pollinate each flower by hand. Use a tiny paint brush to dab at the stamen and then rub the pollen over the recepticle, aka the middle part of the flower. That way the berries will form as though it’s been pollinated naturally 🙂 hope this helps. I’ve been doing it by hand since I can remember, you just can’t rely on insects too much.

      Reply
  9. I live in Denver and have been trying to grow strawberries for two years now. The first two years they grew really tall and lots of little flowers but then didn’t produce any strawberries at all. We had a lot of 97 degree weather and I’m wondering if the hot weather affected the production of the strawberries. I really don’t want to replace all the plants if I don’t have to!

    Reply
    • Leah,
      It is possible that the heat affected strawberry production. But, you might also have a pathogen or pest problem. I’d re-read the potential causes on this page and then look to try to identify any pests before replacing your plants. Good luck!

      Reply
  10. Got seascape bare root in November and put in 2part hydro. System. Doing great. Lush foliage and just got my first flower.on February 1. With spring coming would it be productive to move them to an outdoor hydroponic system. Thanks love your advice. Tom

    Reply
    • Tspring,
      If you harden the plants off slowly, you could save money on the grow lights by letting them grow in natural light. But, a lot of hydroponic systems aren’t as outdoor-tolerate as the strawberries themselves are. You can get fungal growth problems and other issues by keeping a hydroponic system outside, especially if it isn’t designed for outdoor use. Either way, though, good luck!

      Reply
  11. Dear
    I am running a strawberry plants nursery and I have not access to new mother plants here I have old mother plants and would like to know that that runners produce from mother plants can be used to produce new runners and does it effect the quality of the fruit if I keep on repeating the process for many year without changing the mother plants.any other way to produce good runners?

    Reply
    • Nitish Chauhan,
      Mother plants will lose their vitality starting in year 4 or 5. It is better to allow the genetically identical daughter plants become the new mother plants instead of using the same mother plants year after year. Good luck!

      Reply
  12. its now the end of June. I have a rubbermaid container which I melted holes in for drainage. I’ve had strawberries in it for a few years, and including this year, I have gotten one or two weak little berries. I am going to try to give it some plant food….but is it too late in the season or is it still ok? I have a great compost pile, with rich soil and lots of worms. I put that in, but it didnt help.

    Reply
    • Etta,
      If your rubbermaid container is not big enough, the roots will likely be too warm, and the plants will produce fewer, smaller berries like you described. You can fertilize and see if that helps, however. Good luck!

      Reply
  13. Hello Mr. Strawberry,
    I have beautiful June bearing strawberry plants that have been grown in our area for 75 years (I got starts from the family.) They produced beautiful, huge berries in abundance the second and third year. Now they are much smaller and not many of them. They are grown in a circular garden. Should I dig out the plants that are not bearing in the middle and replace them with new plants every three years? Or how do I get back to the beautiful berries I had when they were first started? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • Melody,
      Strawberry plants typically do lose vitality after their third or fourth year. If that is it, then the plants should be replaced. They might be over-crowded as well. You may want to review this post on transplanting also. Good luck!

      Reply
  14. Hello,

    This is a second-year crop of strawberries. Last spring, I had small berries and some plants produced large, uniform fruit in the fall.

    This spring, I did have a harvest, but now they have abruptly stopped producing. I had a very strange and prolific growth of mushrooms in the strawberry bed (and I mean a lot of mushrooms — half a garbage bag full of mushrooms that grew in clumps). I wondered what caused all of the fungal growth and if it could now be affecting the plants. They look green and healthy, but I think there is something odd going on in my soil.

    Reply
    • Tracy,
      Most strawberry varieties don’t produce constantly throughout the year. They produce one main harvest and stop (if they are June-bearing plants) or two main harvests (one early and one late) if they are everbearing varieties. If the mushrooms haven’t killed your strawberries by now, they aren’t likely to affect them, so you shouldn’t have to fret about those. It sounds like your plants are doing well! Good luck!

      Reply
    • Shanti Tanna,
      The plants can still live and thrive if you remove a few leaves, but it is best to leave all healthy leaves attached and growing. Good luck!

      Reply
  15. We had lots of blossoms but developing very few berries. The plants were thinned last year leaving narrow row of newer plants.

    Dora

    Reply
  16. If i want to grow strawberry for more than one year.. and in case its aerial part does not survive for next year due to harsh environmental condition.. so, in next season can i grow strawberry solely from underground part????

    Reply
    • nadia,
      Yes! The strawberry crowns will put forth new vegetation and flowers/strawberries each year. Just be sure to protect the crowns during the winter months. It is normal for the leaves to die back during the winter. Good luck!

      Reply
  17. Jim G, I don’t know where you are , but here in Tasmania (Australia) we have a well known gardening guru by the name of Peter Cundell.
    Somebody asked him exactly the same question on his radio show last week, and his reply was quite vehemently that the runners are the same age as the original plant – if you propagate runners from a four year old plant, your new plants will also be, in essence & characteristic, four year old plants.
    As many of the problems with strawberries relate to their age – they’re only good for around 3 – 4 years & would be better to be replaced after that time – those age related problems will carry over to any plants produced by their runners.
    I can honestly say I’ve never know him to be wrong about anything in the 40 years I’ve been heeding his advice, so I would tend to believe him on this point.

    Reply
    • Jim G,
      The clock is reset. If a 4-year mother plant puts out a runner plant, the runner plant is a 1-year plant once it roots. Good luck!

      Reply
  18. I have 4 strawberry sweetheart plants. 2 of them don’t produce fruits or flowers. The other 2 of thsm have fruits but they have not even grown to half the size in the last 3 weeks. I have put liquid fertilizer for the plants when I potted them but there is still no change. What can I do to get the most of these plants?!

    Reply
  19. My strawberries were smaller than usual, the tips weren’t pointy like they’re supposed to be, and there were lots more seeds than normal. What’s they’re problem; and is there anything I can do about it?

    Reply
  20. We built a raised bed specifically for a strawberry bed. We planted this spring. Everything appeared to be going very well until now. Plants appear healthy with vigorous growth lots greenery . Lots of runners. We had plenty of flowers and fruit started growing but all fruit falls off plant before colouring or in most cases big enough for eating. Plants still flowering and growing fruit? I have been removing runners. I have checked plants for any signs of pests but cannot find any. Any ideas or suggestions please

    Reply
  21. Mr. Strawberry, we are in 2500 Mts elevation,

    ARE THE STRAWBERRY PLANTS THROW NUMEROUS RUNNERS(STOLEN) DURING STRAWBERRY PRODUCTION? THIS IS PROBLEM WITH VARIETY OR FERTIGATION OR CLIMATIC FACTOR?

    Reply
    • Milton,
      To prevent excessive runner formation, most commercial farmers plant strawberry plugs in the fall, then till under the plants after the harvest in the spring.

      Reply
  22. I have a new raised garden box that was just planted about 6-7 weeks ago. It is a 2 level box and I have strawberries planted in both of the lower end boxes. There are 3 plants in each box. They are growing very well, sending off a lot of runners, getting buds and even getting some fruit. My question is can the runners hang down the side of the planter and still produce? I don’t want them to grow upwards and into the garden section of the box.

    Reply
    • Cindy W.,
      The runners that hand down the sides can sometimes produce a few strawberries, but they are drawing all of their nutrients through the mother plant when they do that. That puts a strain on the mother plant. For best results, root the runners. Once they are rooted, they can be severed from the mother plant and planted anywhere. Good luck!

      Reply

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