It's that time of year when the strawberries are doing their best produce off spring. We have about 8 strawberry plants which are in various stages of maturity. I am trying to give the younger ones a chance by snipping off their runners before they drain energy from the mother plant and I'm letting some of the older ones send out about 5 runners, again in order not to drain them too much.
Runners are the quickest way for the strawberries to reproduce. They do produce seeds, on the outside of the strawberry fruit but the runners seem to be the most reliable way to produce more plants.
Here you can see one just starting to grow on the parent plant. The tip of it is in the middle of this photo.
As it grows it gets a lot longer, maybe 2 feet long, and then starts to grow leaves.
When the runner has actually started to grow roots this is the time to pin it to some soil so it can spread it's roots into it before being detached from the parent plant. I tried, last year, doing this before the little roots started to appear and the runner just crept its way out of the pot again. I think that the bit connecting it to the parent plant has to reach it's maximum length before it wants to root itself. This makes sense as it probably wants to be far enough away from the parent plant to ensure a good supply of nutrients.
When you've decided that now is the right time to root the runner the best thing to do it fill a small pot with soil or compost. Make sure the soil is well watered and then place the runner on top of the soil. You do not need to bury it. I wasn't too concerned about the type of soil I used here as it won't be in this pot for more than a couple of months.
To prevent the strawberry from popping out you can weigh it down with a small stone. You can also pin it down with a bent stick or something. Whatever comes to hand. The runner should remain attached to the parent plant for at least a week until it has it's own root system. Two weeks might be even better.
When you think that the runner is big enough to stand on its own two feet then cut the piece connecting it to the parent. This is best done during cool or wet weather. I did this with some of my runners during a spell of very warm weather and every day the new strawberries wilted and then recovered at night time. They were obviously having a bit of difficulty staying hydrated.
As the new strawberries grow they will need to be transplanted into larger pots. When you do this remember not to bury the crown of the plant in the soil. This is basically the area where all the new shoots come from. It likes to be at the surface in order to prevent rotting. This strawberry plant is about 9 months old and still has a bit of growing to do. Some of its sister plants have fruited this year but not this one for some reason.
It seems that you really only need to buy a few strawberry plants and then over the next few years the number can be greatly increased with a little patience and tender care.
We've had some of our first ever strawberries in the last couple of weeks and OH MY GOD! They are amazing.