How to Grow New Strawberry Plants from Runners

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Strawberry runner

The juiciness and aroma of home-grown strawberries is beyond compare, and it’s easy to make more plants so you can enjoy an even bigger harvest next year.

If you’ve grown strawberries before you’ll have noticed that plants throw out several long, leafless stalks called runners. We can use these to quickly raise new plants.

Strawberry Runners

Established strawberry plants will send out multiple runners over the soil surface. Each runner has a tiny plant at its end and these can be rooted and grown on to produce new plants.

Runners take a lot of the plant’s energy to produce, so in the first two years of life they should be cut off from where they emerge to concentrate the plant’s efforts on fruit production. From year three some of the runners can be used to propagate new plants. Only ever use healthy runners from vigorous, disease-free plants. Unless you plan to dispose of the parent plants, limit the number of runners to five per plant.

Pegging Down Runners

Look closely at the plantlet at the end of the runner and you may be able to see tiny roots already beginning to form. To get these to root, simply peg down the plantlet into the ground or into pots of potting soil with a hairpin, U-shaped clip or a length of garden wire bent into shape. Make sure the plantlet is in firm contact with the soil.

Strawberry runner

Growing on New Strawberry Plants

After about a month to six weeks the plantlet will have started to grow new leaves. At this point, cut it free from the parent plant. Grow the young plant on where it is, or dig it up and replant into fresh ground. New strawberries rooted into pots can be overwintered in a greenhouse or cold frame then planted out in spring - particularly useful if winters are harsh in your area.

Planting a new strawberry plant

Keep Strawberry Plants Healthy

Strawberries become less productive over time, so you need to grow more plants from runners every three to four years to ensure continuing good harvests. For best results, grow each new generation of strawberries in a completely fresh bed enriched with compost to avoid the build up of disease. You could also use your new plants to fill a special strawberry planter, troughs, or perhaps a handsome terracotta pot.

If you love getting something for free then propagating new strawberry plants from runners is well worthwhile.

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Comments

 
"Does not say whether you have to water new strawberry plants in greenhouse over winter."
Raymonde Gibson on Saturday 1 July 2017
"Hi Raymonde. Yes, water new plants in the greenhouse - but only very lightly, just to the compost/potting soil doesn't dry out completely. Then as soon as things begin to warm up even slightly the plants will set into fresh growth and you can pick up the amount of water you're giving them."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 3 July 2017
"can I use the runners that are growing of runners that are in pots from the parent plant if that makes sense"
kate on Tuesday 15 August 2017
"Hi Kate. Yes, you can use any runners, so long as they are vigorous and healthy. So runners coming off root runners are absolutely fine."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 15 August 2017
"THANK YOU"
kate on Tuesday 15 August 2017
"CAN I REPLANT RUNNERS AND MOTHER PLANT TOGETHER ,THEY ARE ONLY IN A SMALL POT ,AND GROWING WELL,CAN THEY BE PLANTED NOW OUTSIDE, IN SPOT THAT NEVER GETS FROST "
william on Friday 1 September 2017
" Yes, you can certainly plant your strawberries out now, especially if frosts are rare where you are. You can plant them all out together, but I would be inclined to detach the young plants from the mother plant and then plant them separately. If the mother plant is old, it is best discarded, as it will begin to deteriorate in quality. But yes, you could plant them all together. "
Ben Vanheems on Sunday 3 September 2017
"thanks Ben forgot to say mother plant is a youngun as well, runners are coming from this i only started with 3 plants and have 10 runners ,so can i plant them from her into their own pots regards 1st timer Will"
william on Sunday 3 September 2017
"Yes, absolutely - that would be fine. If the mother plant is also young, then just consider it another plant. All plants, including the runners, can be potted on into their own pots as long as they have enough roots. You will know this for the runners because when you give them a gentle tug they will stay anchored to the soil. Good luck with your strawberries - and enjoy them!"
Ben Vanheems on Sunday 3 September 2017
"cheers Ben, from Liverpool U.K"
william on Monday 4 September 2017
"Hi Raymonde I am from India and currently living in New Mumbai which is a populated town. I am the beginners in Strawberry. First i have to start strawberry planting from the pot itself. Could u guide me pls.."
Abhishek on Thursday 28 September 2017
"Hi Abhishek. If you look in the 'More for you' column to the right of this article you should see a recommended article on 'How to choose and grow the best tasting strawberries', which is a great starting point if you are new to growing strawberries. Or use the search tool to find this article."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 28 September 2017
"WHEN IS IT TOO LATE TO ATTEMPT ROOTING THE RUNNERS? NOW OCTOBER IN EASTERN WASHINGTON STATE, AND FROST IS COMING SOON. SHOULD I CUT THEM FREE FROM THE MAIN PLANT AND PLANT EACH "AIR PLANT" IN ITS OWN CONTAINER INSIDE AND WAIT FOR ROOTS?"
ARTFUL on Saturday 7 October 2017
"You could attempt to root the runners at any time, if the runners are being grown on where the plant is. It may take longer to root - even until spring if the cold weather closes in quickly - but if you anchor the runner down at this stage it will root eventually. Keep the runners attached to the mother plant for now. Only cut the young plantlet free once it's definitely rooted and is therefore drawing it's own moisture and nutrients from the ground."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 9 October 2017
"OOPPS..THANKS FOR ANSWER. I DID NOT SEE IT SO I VENTURED OUT ON A LIMB WITH A RADICAL IDEA. I CUT ALL THE RUNNER PLANTS INTO INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS AND STUCK THEM ALL IN A BUCKET OF WATER AND PLACED INSIDE WHERE IT IS WARMER. I CHECKED TODAY BY PULLING ONE PLANT OUT OF THE WATER, AND IT LOOKS LIKE I CAN SEE TWO ROOTS STARTING TO GROW ABOUT 1/2 INCH LONG. I WILL WAIT A FEW MORE DAYS AND CHECK AGAIN. THE IDEA IS TO PLANT IN SOIL ONCE I GET SOME ROOTS (HOPEFULLY). THEN I WILL KEEP IN THE BASEMENT UNDER LIGHTS UNTIL I GET GOOD LOOKING PLANTS. WILL THIS MAKE THEIR SEASON OUT OF WHACK? FOR NEXT SPRING?"
ARTFUL on Sunday 22 October 2017
"Hi Artful. It sounds like your technique could certainly work. Growing them on under growlights like this may get them out of whack with the season. What may happen is that they'll grow much quicker than usual, and you may even find you get an earlier crop of strawberries next spring. I would be inclined to get the roots growing, them pot them up into fresh potting soil and grow them on in a bright but cooler place, so they have a more natural temperature and light level. But it may be fun growing them on under lights to see how far advanced they might be."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 23 October 2017
"I just ought to tell you which you have written an exceptional and distinctive post that I really enjoyed reading. Im fascinated by how nicely you laid out your material and presented your views. Thank you. bebgcdfffdkbdafd"
Smithc633 on Tuesday 9 January 2018
"Thanks very much indeed. Glad you enjoyed the article. There are plenty more on this website - hundreds in fact - so enjoy exploring!"
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 9 January 2018
"Can you please give a list of varieties you suggest will grow many runners? I have read that many do no cast many runners. Thank you"
Lee on Sunday 28 January 2018
"Hi Lee. Most varieties of strawberries - and every one I have ever come across - does produce runners, so you should be able to propagate from most varieties."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 29 January 2018
"Being a first time Strawberry grower I aked Mr. Google and upi came choices but your makes sense to the first time grower. My two Mother plants have thrown out many children and I will find a home for all based on your teachings. I Johannesburg South Africa we have the best weather so that is not a problem. Our Woolworth, markets 1st grade Strawberries But growing and picking them whenever is more enlightening at 82 years young. "
Ísidore Sostak on Tuesday 20 February 2018
"That's brilliant - glad you've got something to propagate from. Enjoy the juicy bounty that's sure to follow. And keep up with the growing - it's what's keeping you young!"
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 22 February 2018
"Hello Thanks for the information. I have strawberries that are growing in hanging baskets. Any ideas on how I can pot the runners? Could I loop them back to the baskets? Cheers"
Megan on Saturday 12 May 2018
"Hi Megan. You could give that a go, but I doubt there would be enough room in the basket for uncongested growth. What I would do is take the hanging basket down and rest it on the rim of an empty pot, to steady it. Then fill 7cm/3in pots with fresh compost and pin the runners down into these to produce your new plants. Once they have rooted you can cut the new plants free and always hang up the basket again."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 14 May 2018
"Do wild strawberries have runners ?"
Robert on Wednesday 23 May 2018
"Yes, will strawberries have runners."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 23 May 2018
"I pot runners as it makes it better than disturbing them too often. I bought 5 plants and put them in a deep raised bed, now it is covered in them and I gave away 15 potted runners to a friend and this year so far I have 21 pots with runners. I am making a strawberry barrel using a 50ltr blue plastic barrel and possibly putting it on wheels so it can be moved to the best spot and into the greenhouse during winter. I am also planning to experiment with a horizontal pipe in the greenhouse with a length of guttering below it filled with soil so the runners have somewhere to go as they grow."
Bob Howie on Monday 9 July 2018
"It sounds like you're definitely making the most of your strawberries' runners - such an efficient and prolific way to propagate them. I hope your strawberry barrel has come together nicely for you. What a great idea to put it on wheels to 'chase' the light and warmth!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 9 July 2018
"Dear Artful, Did your strategy work to get early fruiting?"
Leon Pereira on Saturday 21 July 2018
"Hello I live in Weiser Id. and it is late Aug. I see runners hanging off my 4 ft. high planter . second yr. berries were nice. I almost cut runners off, until I read your advice. I think I understand. Leave the runners attached to the mom plant and try to start them in the same area , watered and pinned down until rooted. then they can be de tached and potted ? Thank you so much."
Sandy on Saturday 18 August 2018
"Hi Sandy. Yes, that's right. Let the runners root while they're still attached to the mother plant, as this will improve the chances of them rooting strongly and successfully. Once they are clearly growing away independently, cut them free."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 20 August 2018
"I have runners coming off of runners all in a line if I cut the first runner which is well established will it run a risk of cutting off the nutrient supply to those after it"
Mary on Thursday 23 August 2018
"If the runner closest to the mother plant is well established and rooted, then cutting it free shouldn't impact the other runners further down the line, particularly if the other runners are pinned down and beginning to produce roots as well."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 24 August 2018
"Hello from Sydney Many of my strawberries are deformed and do not complete their development. I'm told this can come about from continually using runners, runners again etc. is this true? If not what could be causing this. Noel"
Noel Frappell on Monday 1 October 2018
"It sounds like your strawberry plants may have contracted a virus, which can be passed on through strawberries propagated via runners. I would suggest starting with completely new plants and the planting them in a new patch of ground that hasn't had strawberries in it for at least five years. Hope that helps."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 October 2018
"I have rooted runners in my strawberry patch. It is now March. If I pot them up now to plant next autumn is it best to pinch out any flowering shoots to make a stronger plant next autumn to plant on. "
Steve Moss on Wednesday 13 March 2019
"Yes, I would pinch out flowering shoots this summer at least. They can then fruit next year."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 14 March 2019
"Is there a weed spray for strawberries cannot keep patch weeded"
Charles on Saturday 1 June 2019
"It would be hard to spray around strawberry plants without either affecting the plants or compromising the safety of the food you grow. If weeds are a horrendous problem, then it may be best to put down a sheet mulch and then cut holes through it into which you can plant your strawberries. "
Ben Vanheems on Monday 3 June 2019
"I live in Mi. First heR with a hanging plant. I'm putting runners in Baggies with soil. What do I do with plant when fall gets here?"
Wendy on Tuesday 23 July 2019
"Hi Wendy. By runners, do you mean runners from strawberries or runner beans? Could you let me know exactly what plants you are growing?"
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 24 July 2019
"If the plantlet has started growing new leaves, does this definitely mean it's rooted? (Don't want to dig them up and look!)"
Vee Kiely on Monday 29 July 2019
"Yes, if there is visibly new growth since pinning it down, then it is highly likely the plantlet has rooted and can be separated from the mother plant. You can check by very, very gently tugging up on the plantlet to feel for resistance from the new roots."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 29 July 2019
"Thhanks Ben, useful to know!"
Vee Kiely on Tuesday 30 July 2019
"When my strawberry plant is old enough (a month to 6 weeks) instead of moving them to the ground can I just get a larger pot?"
Mia Lopez on Saturday 3 August 2019
"Yes, you can indeed do that Mia. Strawberries are happy growing in pots as long as they have enough moisture and nutrients to access."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 5 August 2019
"I'm planning my beds out for next year. I have an established strawberry bed (three years old) and would like to start the next bed. If this upcoming spring I start letting the runners grow and propagate as you describe above, would I do that at the beginning of spring or after they are done fruiting? Either way, can I then just move them to their new bed, or am I wasting that new bed space for their growing period? Would it make more sense to overwinter them and start the strawberry bed next year?"
Tori on Thursday 19 December 2019
"Hi Tori. You could start plants from runners whenever you fancy. I would be inclined to start rooting runners from summer onwards, at the same time as the plants are fruiting. Root them into pots then overwinter them away from the bed so that they can be planted in early spring. That way you can make use out of the bed this season with some other crops."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 23 December 2019
"Hello! Will my rooted runners produce strawberries this summer, the plants themselves are quite small, but have a good strong central bud. Strawberries this year? Thanks, awesome write up!"
Karim on Wednesday 29 January 2020
"Hi Karim. They may well do so as there's still quite a time to go until the summer. Give them a sunny spot and keep the soil moist and there is a good chance you will be picking one or two fruits this year, with full production to follow next year."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 30 January 2020
"Hey Ben I am even embarrassed to say, my one mother plant has given me 10 runners and the look good I am keeping them. "
Ndife on Tuesday 18 February 2020
"Brilliant - lots of new plants then Ndife!"
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 20 February 2020
"Hi there, I have a garden bed of strawberries- just wondering could I leave them there till next summer, or should I dig them out and put into pots for winter? I don’t have a greenhouse but it’s not that cold here in northland. Plants are pretty crowded in garden, as they have grown. I will take pups before a potential transplant. Thanks "
Shannon on Tuesday 10 March 2020
"Hi Shannon. I'm assuming you mean Northland New Zealand? If so you have a much milder climate than mine and I leave my strawberries outside all year round - they're pretty hardy. If the plants are a little crowded you might want to dig some of them up to re-plant elsewhere, which will give those left more room to really thrive."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 11 March 2020
"I am fairly new to growing strawberries. I've tried for two years in pots. They did not come back after the first winter so got new plants and this time brought them into the garage over the winter. Again, they did not come back. What are your recommendations for growing strawberries in pots? We live near Denver Colorado."
Tammy on Tuesday 5 May 2020
"I am fairly new to growing strawberries. I've tried for two years in pots. They did not come back after the first winter so got new plants and this time brought them into the garage over the winter. Again, they did not come back. What are your recommendations for growing strawberries in pots? We live near Denver Colorado."
Tammy on Tuesday 5 May 2020
"Hi Tammy. Strawberries should cope with winters in Denver, but you are near the edge of their tolerance there. I suspect the strawberries got completely frozen for a long period (or at least the ones outside) and simply died from this. Particularly in pots, with their roots more exposed to the cold, they can find it harder. Next winter I would advise cutting back the old growth once the plants reach the end of the season then insulating the pots somehow - perhaps with bubblewrap or straw held in place around the pot somehow. I would leave the top of the pot exposed though, for air circulation. I suspect the strawberries in the garage may have suffered from lack of light. It may be asking local gardeners how they overwinter their strawberries. I am very lucky that we have mild winters (though still frosty with occasional snow), so strawberries pull through without too much effort."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 6 May 2020
"Hey there, long time fan but first time poster! It's my understanding that strawberry plants grown from runners are the same age as the parent plant, which means they'll need replacing around the same time, whereas a seed will produce a new generation of plant. Can you confirm this is true? My source is shaky and I'd love to have a reliable resource confirm or deny. "
M C on Monday 18 May 2020
"You'd have thought so, but when you take runners from healthy plants and root them, you are in fact creating new plants. So they are NOT the same age as the parents but starting out from year zero. It means that once you have strawberries, so long as you replant in fresh soil, you can keep them going indefinitely."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 20 May 2020
"I'm planting strawberries in a 2 foot tall planter. I'm in Ireland. It can take 34 plants so i'm expecting a bumper harvest! So far i've bought 10 plants. They arrived today and have plenty of flowers and little fruits on them. I'm planning to grow them in my pollytunnel. They are Sonata. I have two questions: Do you have any ideas for how i could plant the runners from the plants that will be at the top of the planter? Also, will i get a harvest this year from those runners? If so, i can avoid the cost of buying more plants. But if not, i'll need to rush out to the garden centre to get more before they're all gone! Thanks in advance! "
Breda Joyce on Thursday 21 May 2020
"Hello Breda. Thanks for your questions. You could raise small plastic pots (about 7-9cm or so in size) filled with potting mix up on bricks or similar, so they are closer to the top of your 2 foot tall planter. That way you can just pin the runners down quite easily. Runners from this year are unlikely to fruit this summer - they will next year though. So you may need to buy a few more plants!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 25 May 2020
"I am planning to start strawberry growing in pots. I know that we can repeat the process of propagating new plants through runners indefinitely, but does the production/harvesting quantity remains the same? I am a bit worried cuz I would be starting it on a commercial scale so I want an even production every year."
Nandish on Saturday 13 June 2020
"Hi Nandish. You can propagate from strawberry runners but it is absolutely essential that the original plant is still healthy and disease-free. The runners are 'new' plants, so will have the vigor of young seedlings grown on. But it really is important - particularly if this will be your income - to make double sure you are always only propagating from healthy plants."
Ben Vanheems on Sunday 14 June 2020
"Rabbits where eating my strawberry plants.I put irish spring soap around the plants. Is there anything else I can do. Thanks Frank"
Frank Breuninger on Wednesday 17 June 2020
"Other than securing your strawberries within a wire mesh/chickenwire cage, I think not Frank."
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 17 June 2020
"I have about a dozen everbearing strawberry plants that were given to me last fall. The berries from them are quite small. How can I get larger berries?"
Dorothy Dorger on Wednesday 17 June 2020
"It may just be the variety that you are growing produces smaller berries. Otherwise it's the same advice as usual: plenty of sunshine, keep plants well watered in dry weather, and feed them with a liquid tomato feed or similar to help the berries set and swell."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 18 June 2020
"Hi, I would like to start new plants from runners- my mother plants are 3 years old -they are healthy but produce less fruits than last year. Runners have the same (''old'') DNA like mother plants so I wonder if there is a chance than i will have better harvest from runners of old plants? Thanks, Anna"
Anna on Thursday 18 June 2020
"Hi Anna. They will have the same DNA, but plants grown from runners - even of old plants - will be young, new plants and much more vigorous. So you are fine propagating from runners and assuming the mother plant is healthy (though old) you should produce some fine young plants."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 22 June 2020
"Hi I have just bought a large strawberry plant it stands about one foot high - I have only grown small strawberry plants in the past - should I do anything different for this one - it is now showing some new shoots - should I cut these off to promote more fruit? Thanks for your help"
pam norris on Sunday 26 July 2020
"Hi Pam. Yes, if you aren't trying to propagate new plants and just want the plant to concentrate on fruit production, always cut off the runners. The plant needs no other treatment (other than watering and feeding etc.). You may want to trim back all of the old foliage at the end of the season just to tidy the plant up."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 27 July 2020
"Hi can i cut runners off existing plants and then replant runners in to pots. Jas"
jas on Thursday 3 September 2020
"Hi Jas. Yes you can, so long as they have already rooted. If they have, you can sever from the main plant are replant into pots, cutting off the end of the runner too to leave just the plantlet. Alternatively, keep the runners attached to the plant then push down and secure the little plantlet at the end of the runner into a pot of potting soil. Once it has rooted you can then detach it from the main plant."
Ben Vanheems on Friday 4 September 2020
"Hi, this year i bought strawberry plants in as hanging basket, they looked healthy and already flowering, however, the fruit that was produced was very miss shapen and not very sweet, I have successfully got more plants from the runners that are producing new leaves, they are separated from the parent, is it likely that the fruit will be the same as the parent?"
Hilary Goodger on Monday 7 September 2020
"Hi Hilary. Yes, the fruits would be exactly the same type as the parent plant as they will be genetically identical. That said, it may be the fact they were grown in the hanging basket that affected fruit shape and taste. Generally I find fruits need plenty of feeding and a good, sunny spot to encourage the best-flavoured fruits. It may just be me, but I tend to find anything grown in the soil (tomatoes, strawberries etc) produces the fruits with the most intensity."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 7 September 2020
"This is my first year of growing strawberries and I have tons of runners. I am wondering if I could plant the new baby plants in soil and place them in my heated garage with a plant light over the winter. I live in Wisconsin - we get cold! Is it too late to have these plants root and grow in my strawberry bed?"
Julia on Monday 28 September 2020
"Hi Julia. You could try that, yes. I'm not sure how long you have left of the growing season, so if you are planning on giving this a try I would get on and do it as soon as possible. My hunch, though, is that it's probably best to cut them back and prepare the strawberries for winter. Then propagate new plants from runners next year. Ideally you want the strawberry plants to be continuing to establish properly if they are only a year old, so erring on the side of caution like this may give better results for you in the long run."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 29 September 2020
"This is my first year growing strawberries. In the previous comment you mention preparing the strawberries for winter. Can you share what needs to be done to prepare strawberries for winter please."
Tammy on Tuesday 29 September 2020
"Hi Tammy. It depends on where you are. As a bare minimum I would cut back all the old foliage, leaving just the younger growth at the centre - the new leaves and shoots. This tidies up the plants, ready for next spring. If you live in a temperate region then that's it - they can now be left. But if winters are very cold where you are - days of hard frosts and snow and frigid temperatures - then you will need to pile mulch on top of plants to keep them safe. The colder your winters, the higher the mulch to keep plants cosy. Use mulches that still allow some airflow and water to drain through - e.g. straw or pine needles. Potted strawberries can be buried in the ground and then mulched, or moved under cover to an unheated greenhouse or garage for example."
Ben Vanheems on Thursday 1 October 2020

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