Rooting Strawberry Runners in In-Ground Cells

by Daisy

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The Sweet Charlie strawberries I planted in October have grown steadily since I put them in the ground. The started blooming several weeks ago.

IMG_1947 Now they have nice, big, green berries.

IMG_2060 Sweet Charlies are supposed to be especially sweet, so sweet they’re often described as tasting like they have been dipped in sugar and are a very popular market variety. I’ll report back on that once they’re ripe.

I examine the strawberry bed several times a day, giving it encouragement and sending out discouraging vibes to the slugs, birds, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, & possums* that might also have an eye on my berries.

I have deer netting for birds if it becomes necessary, and believe me, I will do whatever it takes to keep the critters from getting away with my crop.

Strawberry plants lose productivity after about three years, so to avoid having to spend money on more plants and shipping, etc., I want to root the runners the plants are beginning to send out. This way, I’ll have clones of the existing plants to replant in another spot.

Taking out the runners will also help keep the current bed from becoming overgrown–strawberries need lots of room to get good sunlight and circulation. The runners will root by themselves if left alone, but I wanted to have some in pots ready to dig up so I wouldn’t disturb the roots as much.

Here’s what I did: This is a strawberry runner.


It’s just a stolon from the “mother” plant looking for a place to root and start a new “daughter” plant. They’re easy to spot because they look like vines reaching out and away from the original plant.

I cut some re-purposed nursery 9-packs into individual cells . . .


. . . and buried them in the ground underneath the runner where new growth was starting.

I filled the cell with the soil I dug out to make the hole and pinned the runner down with a piece of clothes hanger wire bent like a hairpin.

IMG_2067With some plants sending out multiple runners I could do a 3-pack:

IMG_2068These stolons will root in the soil in the cells over the next few weeks. Then I can clip them from the mother plant and replant them elsewhere or share them with other gardeners. Once I’ve rooted as many of the runners as I want to have new plants, I can snip and discard other runners sent out from the mother plants so they can concentrate on berry-growing instead of sending off adventitious shoots and roots.


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

SuperMomNoCape April 21, 2014 at 6:46 pm

A few years ago, for Mother’s Day our son bought me four strawberry plants… I planted them in a 4 ftX4 ft raised garden and by potting up the runners, by fall I had filled that garden. The next spring, I continued to clip the runners and potting them and then gave them away to friends. I didn’t plant the pots in the ground though. I clipped the runners, put them in water to root and then planted them out.

Daisy April 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm

SMNC–I’ve wondered how that method worked. Good to know you can root them in water, too. What a return on that small investment!

Claire April 22, 2014 at 11:53 am

Thanks for the interesting article. About that video…. who would want to pet an oppossum? I encountered one behind a woodpile and that sucker was vicious & mean, just hissing and trying to back away as far as possible. I certainly wouldn’t want to hand feed one and definitely not pet it!!!

Daisy April 22, 2014 at 6:49 pm

claire–I think that is a hand-raised possum, and a baby one at that. I, too, have been hissed at by a possum. Of course I was standing on top of the washing machine poking at it with a broom handle, so it was justifiably peeved.

Jean April 23, 2014 at 7:10 am

Many years ago my kids found an injured baby possum at the base of a tree—must have fallen from his mother’s back. We nursed the little guy back to health and he lived with us for almost 3 years. They have incredible personalities and when raised with humans are very gentle and sweet. And yes, my possum loved strawberries too!

Amber April 23, 2014 at 7:52 am

I wish I could grow strawberries. I’ve tried for three years now, every year it dies within a week of bringing the plant home. Don’t know if it’s me or the desert heat doing it. Either way they never survive. 🙁

Shar April 23, 2014 at 10:39 am

Thank you for the excellent article and photos on your method of rooting the strawberry shoots! The pics are excellent!

I really enjoy your blog.

Daisy April 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Shar–Thank you, and thanks for taking the time to comment. It means a lot that people take time out of their busy days to be encouraging.

Daisy April 23, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Amber–It’s not you! They do like plenty of water. Ordinarily they like full sun, but if you live in the desert maybe a bit of shade in the hottest part of the day, in addition to regular deep watering and mulching might give them a chance to make it.

Daisy April 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Jean–Aw. How big did it get?

Cinnamon Vogue April 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

Never had much luck with strawberries. Mine were always small and horrible, no matter what I did. Not to mention chasing away Possums and a Ground Squirrels. But what a great idea about stolon’s. Didn’t even know they were called that.

I would like you to try some of our Ceylon Cinnamon Leaf Oil spray to keep away them pests. Mix 1% Cinnamon Oil with 99% water and spray around the plants with a pump spray from Home Depot which you can get for ten bucks. The smell of cinnamon interferes with their sense of smell and keeps pests away. Will send you a free bottle as long as you report back to us on how effective it is for you. 🙂 It certainly keep away the ants and the Aphid problem under control. Just email us a shipping address.

Love that Possum video. The one I encountered, a baby, hissed and puffed at me. I was really freaked out. Not my first choice for a pet, but I can see if treated well they are rather amenable. 🙂

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