Propagating Strawberries

As a beginner gardener, I love sharing all of the things I learn through my experiences, successes, and failures. Propagating strawberries was probably one of the coolest things I learned this year with our garden. I chose ever-bearing strawberries for my first time, since they produce less fruit over a longer period of time.

Once strawberry plants reach a certain stage of maturity, they start producing runners off of the parent plant. They have an invasive tendency to outgrow their containers, so the runners allow them to produce more plants without over-crowding the mature plants. (Note: Strawberry plants love sunlight, so they have to spread out in order to maximize their sunlight exposure.)

Here you can see the runners growing out from the parent plants.

From the runners, they produce rhizomes that root into baby strawberry plants. These are distinct sections of the plant with a node and small clump of leaves growing from the node. They literally look like baby strawberry plants.

This is the rhizome with it’s cluster of leaves. The rhizome will root into soil on its own and will produce another plant.

Here is the tricky part of their propagation. These baby plants cannot be cut from the part plant this early in their development. I tried to do this a few times and not once did I have a successful propagation.

The babies must be rooted with the umbilical, or runner, still in tact with the parent plant. This is not a difficult process, but correct execution is very important.

Now we have a couple of options at this point:

1. You can place small pots of soil underneath the rhizomes so they can root into the soil on their own. (This method will work, but the rooting process takes some time to secure the plant into the soil.)

2. I have seen where people have made “tacks” from bending bamboo skewers into the shape of a staple and used them to lightly press and hold the rhizome in the soil to root. (I have yet to try this method, but I can’t help but wonder if this process helps to encourage rooting.)

This is my example of incorrect propagation. I cut the umbilical and planted the strawberry rhizomes into potting soil. Their removal from the parent plant made it impossible to establish themselves into the soil. All four attempts did not make it along with another attempt prior to this one.

However, once your baby plants root and begin to establish and grow, the umbilical can be cut and the new plants can be transplanted. Only cut the new plants from the parent when you are ready to transplant them. If you are not ready to transplant, it is best to leave them connected to the parent plant.

Lastly, do not fret if your new plants do not produce fruit right away or even the same year. If you want them to produce fruit the same year, your best bet is to allow them to remain connected to the umbilical runner so that the parent plant continues to help nurture them.

I hope this information can serve as a guide for other beginner gardeners like myself. I have realized that gardening is more than just growing some plants. There is always something new to learn and ways to maximize your gardening experience.

For more useful information regarding propagating strawberries plants, check out The Old Farmer’s Almanac: How To Grow Strawberries From Runners

I also can’t wait to propagate some strawberry plants to give away to friends and family. They make amazing little gifts that keep on giving.


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