How To Propagate Strawberries

Ok folks here is a very quick and cheap way to get new strawberry plants for free!

During late summer – early autumn you will notice your strawberry plants sending out long stems that have a knobbly clusters like you see in the picture below.

Strawberry stolons or "runners".

These are often referred to as “runners” or in botany we call them “stolons“. Quite simply they are a specialised above ground shoots that emit roots, allowing stoloniferous plants, like strawberries, to colonise themselves.

Strawberry stolon

Strawberry stolon. Roots forming.

It is best not to propagate too many stolons from each plant as this can exhaust the parent plant and weaken the growth of your developing runners. I think four is plenty.

To propagate your own strawberries you will need:

  • a pot or tray
  • some potting mix or compost
  • a pin
  • Or if you don’t have a pin you can use a piece of thick wire and some wire cutters.

You can easily make your own pins from an old coat hanger just as I have done below.

Old coat hanger wire cut into short pieces.

Bend the wire over the wire cutters.

Now you have pegs.

DIY pins.

First fill your pot or tray with potting mix or compost. Pat it down with the palm of your hand so that it is level and firm. This will give the roots something to grab on to.

Fill your tray/pot with potting mix or compost.

Now take your stolons and place them on your filled tray or pot.

Stolons in place.

Pin it into place on top of the potting mix. You want the stolons to be fixed firmly in place so that the base of the stolon is in contact with the potting mix.

Insert your pin to anchor stolon.

When your new plants have developed a good root system you will see the roots through the holes at the bottom of your pot or tray (this can take around 3 weeks).

Cut your new plant free from the parent plant, making sure that you cut nice and close to the base. This will prevent the spent stem from rotting and potentially harming your new plant.

Cut close to the base.

And there you have it! New strawberries from old plants!

Naturally, if your strawberries are in the ground and you want to propagate them direct into your soil you can do so. I would advise you to pull back your straw and pin the runners into place where it suits you, not where it suits the plant. It is your garden after all!

Of course you can grow from seed or division but this truly is the easiest way to propagate. Also, propagating in this way means that you will produce clones of the parent plant and this is great because then you know exactly what kind of fruit will get when the plant matures.

If you don’t have your own plants to propagate from have no shame asking a friend or neighbour that does. Remember, love is sharing!

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14 responses to this post.

  1. Great advice and very easy to follow instructions/photos. I’m on a rampage in the garden this week, so I will add propagating new strawberry plants to my to-do list. Better yet I just acquired the perfect tray for doing this. Thanks.

    Reply

  2. I’ve been doing this since mid-summer, and the new plants look so young and healthy! The idea of propagating in seedling trays is great – might head out a do a few now…

    Reply

  3. I did this last year but this year my plants haven’t sent out many runners at all. Not sure why that would be – any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Hi Liz, the only suggestion I would have is either that the plant wasn’t very old or perhaps not very strong. I’ve had plants that weren’t particularly productive (in terms of stolons) one year and then the next they produced heaps. I would give them a dose of liquid fertiliser and a bit of rock dust too if you have some. Let me know if they perk up.

      Reply

  4. Great how-to steps and tip on moving your runners where you want them to go in the garden. Will do that this year.

    Reply

  5. Thanks for sharing this great post on propagating strawberries!

    Reply

    • Hey there,

      Thanks for your lovely comment and kudos on the blog!

      I’m glad that you liked it. It really is so easy. I hope to see people propagating strawberries all over the place!

      Cheerio,

      Jodi

      Reply

  6. Posted by Eilene on July 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Fabulous instructions. Now for a question… this is the first year I have had strawberry plants. Regardless of if they send out stolons or not this year, should I move them indoors for the winter? I am growing them in a big rubbermaid container with holes punched in the bottom for drainage. They would be easy enough to move. I have a basement that gets a little light and seems to stay in the mid 50’s all winter long. Or, do they need to overwinter to come back next year?

    Reply

    • Hi Eilene,

      Thank you for your message. Depending on your climate they will either go into dormancy over the winter or, as they do here, semi-dormancy meaning that their growing slows right down but they do not loose all of their leaves.

      May I ask what part of the world you are in? I’m assuming that you are in an area that is under snow for the winter. If that is the case then I would recommend that you cover your crop in situ with clean dry straw to a depth of about 15cm once severe frost begins to set in. This thick layer will insulate the plants, keeping them safe from frost. This is really only necessary in areas that are under snow during the winter or those where frost is severe. In spring, as soon as the threat of frost has past, remove the straw and you should find that the plants have started to sprout. They will definitely spring back to life next year.

      Alternatively, you could build a structure out of straw bales laid out in a rectangular shape around the perimeter of your strawberry patch and place an old glass window or lid made out of a wooden frame and polycarbonate roofing. This will keep them snug over the winter. If you were to leave the bales in situ over the spring and summer they would rot down nicely and would be a great bedding material by the time autumn comes around.

      Of course, if you have your strawberries in pots it should be fairly easy to take them inside.

      I hope that helps.

      Best regards,

      Jodi

      Reply

      • Posted by Eilene on July 31, 2012 at 12:23 am

        Thanks! I am in the central part of North Carolina, so we get a little bit of snow, but not much. I just didn’t know if the cold would kill them. And again, the cold is relative. I grew up in Connecticut, so winters here seem pretty mild.

      • Ah right! Well I think that the straw should work well for you.

        Thank you for stopping by. Be sure to come back in spring & let me know how you get on.

        Good luck.

  7. Posted by Brett Day on September 4, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I am growing Alpine strawberries, the kind they say don’t send out runners, but I have heard it said that I could split the Stolon. I assume this is what you’re referring to when you mention propagation by “Division.” Would their be any chance you could do a piece on how to do that?

    Reply

    • Hi Brett,

      Despite the claims that alpine strawberries don’t send out stolons, I can assure you that they do. Having said that, they don’t send out many and they are not nearly as long as regular strawberries so they can be a little difficult to notice. In their case it is best to keep an eye out during late Summer-Autumn and pin down any small stolons that you find, stretching the stolon away from the main plant so that once it produces a decent root system (about 4 weeks) you can cut the stem that connects the two plants together and lift the new plant out to be planted wherever it pleases you.
      I will keep an eye on mine and if I see stolons coming up I will document the process and post it up here for you.

      I’ve been growing my white alpine strawberries (Fraises Des Bois Blanches) for a few years now and I have only had a small number of new plants from the original ones.

      Does that help at all?

      Reply

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