Back, by popular request (yes, it’s one of my most frequent search terms), here’s a quick article explaining how simple it is to propagate strawberries using their runners.
It is best to pot up runners in early summer, July is good, because it has both given the parent plants a chance to throw out some runners and start to develop the children and it also gives enough of the warm weather left for the children to develop a root system before winter.
I took the photos a couple of weekends ago of one of my Woodland Strawberry plants, but it’s exactly the same with the more popular Garden Strawberry, just the leaves and fruit are larger. Incidentally, I far prefer the more intensly flavoured fruits from the older family, but you need a dozen times as many plants to get an equivalent weight of fruit than the more modern family.
First catch your strawberry. If you’re not just potting up every single runner you can find, then pick a nice strong plant with a well developed runner.The plant I’ve illustrated in the photograph has two runners with three child plants, one child plant is substantially more developed than the others.
The close up photograph of the child plant is an attempt to illustrate the important parts within the crown, the runner is top to bottom, there are a few leaf stems leaving the crown towards the top-left and you can make out the beginnings of two roots on the plant, they’re the small, hard, white bits that could be said to look like smooth maggots.
Now you’ve selected your candidate plant, prepare the growing medium. I’ve used a short 3cm pot filled with a peat-free compost with added John Innes, but anything will do as long as it’s free draining and fairly rich. Select a size of pot that will still allow you to position the child on its runner with the parent plant for a few months.
The one trick remaining, is to make sure that the child plant remains in contact with the growing medium for as long as it takes the roots to grow. Once the roots have started to develop, they will pull the plant into position. For this, I use my favourite modern technology, the bent paper clip.
As illustrated, it is very simple to turn a common or garden paper clip into a nice secure anchor that neatly slips over the runner, very close to the crown
and you then push into the soil, pegging it firmly in place
The final step is to wait for several months whilst the roots develop. It’s safest to leave the runner attached as long as possible so that the mother plant can continue to supply the child with moisture until it’s able to collect its own, but for the purposes of illustration, I’ve trimmed this plant neatly away showing the final plant that will grow and produce nice tasty fruit for 3-5 years to come. (yes, my hand shears are a bit old school, but I find them much easier to sharpen than these new fangled modern jobbies)