How To Deal With Strawberry Runners

Strawberry Plant

This month, many strawberries will be ready for harvest and the plants will begin to send out runners – shoots from the main plant that will become new plants. Strawberry plants are great for frugal and money-conscious gardeners because if you buy one plant one year you can often have three, four or even more the next. There is always a trade off between getting lots of berries this year and getting new plants but if you remove runners that emerge while the harvest is in full flow and then allow runners to grow when the harvest begins to come to an end then you can get the best of both worlds.

Strawberry PatchIt is perfectly acceptable to simply allow your strawberry patch to become a wild and tangled mess, though productivity is likely to go down within a few years. The problem is that you will not be able to tell which are the older plants and which are younger. A better alternative is to deal with the strawberry runners and move them to a new growing position, so you can keep full control and will be able to tell which plants are older and will become less productive and which are still young and vital. To keep control of strawberry runners you will have to act this month and next.

Strawberry RunnersWhen you see runners developing roots, rather than allowing those to take root in the soil and become new plants wherever they want to, you can make sure that your runners take root in pots. Do not immediately disconnect runners from their parent plant. Instead, it is best practise to allow them to remain attached and moving the pots to them. You can use pegs or bent sticks to secure the runner and make sure that the roots of the new plant stay in contact with the soil.

Strawberry RunnerBy allowing the runners to stay attached to the parent strawberry plant, you are ensuring that the new plants get the best start possible. Only when the runners have had a chance to develop a strong root system should you cut the runners and allow the 'baby' strawberry plants to be moved to their new location. You can place them somewhere else in your garden or keep them in a covered space such as a greenhouse, conservatory or polytunnel for an earlier crop of strawberries next summer.

Make sure that you continue to harvest any remaining strawberries on your parent plants and make sure you provide both parent plants and runners with enough water to keep them happy and healthy and next year, you could have even more delicious strawberries to eat. If you run out of space, keep the runners and give the small plants away to family or friends who might appreciate them.