The Land Rover Owners Wife

Strawberries: Catching the runners

4 Comments

Newly planted runners, still attached to the parent plants

Newly planted runners, still attached to the parent plants

As I was going about my bed clearing, I noticed that, as usual, my strawberry plants had been busy sending out runners, some of which were now rooted into one of the beds and others were trying to root through and into the gravel path. Strawberries, though not exactly what I would call invasive (they’re simply not fast enough to be termed that in my book) will happily colonise the area in which they live, over a number of years. Please note though that it is generally accepted that where there is a designated strawberry bed, the plants will need to be moved on to a new bed every 3 years or so to prevent pests and diseases building up. I grow mine in pots and so this isn’t really an issue for me, as the compost is renewed regularly.
Already rooted into one of the beds

Already rooted into one of the beds

Ok back toΒ  the colonisation process. Simply put, the parent plant throws new runner during the growing season and every few inches, the runner starts to grow new roots and leaves and eventually this becomes a new plant in its’ own right. As a grower, catching the runners is the easiest way to renew your strawberry stocks and negates the need for buying new plants and/or seed every year.

Nowhere to go

Nowhere to go

Today, as part of my general tidy up of the beds, I decided to catch up the new runners, so that I would have young stock to supplement the old plants, for next year. I do this every year and from having a half dozen or so plants we now have some 40 or 50 viable plants. Today I managed to pot up 30 or so runners which, if they all survive the upheaval, will supplement our strawberry plant numbers nicely.

Tiny roots already forming

Tiny roots already forming

Catching and potting the runners is very easy. If your runner is already rooted into a bed and you’re quite happy for it to stay there than, brilliant, nothing more to do. If however you don’t want it there then:

Two new plants from one runner - still joined

Two new plants from one runner – still joined

1) Take a spare pot and half fill it with compost or soil;

2) Gently dig around the root ball of the runner and lift it out of the ground;

3) Press it firmly into the new soil and back fill with more soil if required;

These have been salvaged from the beds and have been separated from the parent plant

These have been salvaged from the beds and have been separated from the parent plant

4) If the plant on the runner is quite well established then you should be able to separate it from the parent plant using your snips but if it isn’t then place the plant pot beside the parent plant and allow the new plant to root for a couple of weeks before snipping the main runner;

5) In either case, once potted up water the new plant well.

If your runner is not rooted into a bed or soil but is hanging down the side of the plant or resting on the ground beside the parent plant, then simply follow steps 1 and 3 (missing out 2), as detailed above, and then place the newly planted runner in its’ pot beside the parent plant and allow it to become established for a few weeks before cutting through the runner. Do remember to give it a good drink after planting.

And there you have it: how to increase your strawberry plant numbers easily and without having to hand over your hard earned cash.

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4 thoughts on “Strawberries: Catching the runners

  1. Hi Elaine. I started with 6 strawberry plants 10 years ago when we lived in the city. I took them with us to the country and now have 80 or so and haven’t had to buy any extras. I think that is a good number as we can eat them until we are sick of them and still make jam. Although it is hard chucking out the old ones (since when did 3 years old become old – I must be 1 year, two months in strawberry years!) and I always have too many babies to find homes for. I have had to learn to be brutal as I can’t keep them all!.
    Won’t be long before we can taste that first strawberry of the season.
    Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. Thank you so much for that, I did not know what to do with all our runners. Pots sounds like a good idea.

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