By Dee Davies
Strawberries are one of the most popular and easily grown edibles in the home garden. A single, healthy strawberry plant can produce several runners. Runners are shoots that branch out from the base of a mother strawberry plant. They vine along the ground and are capable of forming roots, resulting in daughter strawberry plants. Divide daughter plants from mother strawberry plants, using the daughter plants to enlarge the strawberry patch or replace the plants that die off, are diseased or stop producing strawberries. June-Bearer, ever-bearer and day-neutral strawberries have differing timelines for successful propagation.
Strawberry plants begin to produce runners within four or five weeks. Between late July and early August, determine which strawberry plants have the most promising runners. Choose plants that have a history of vigorous growth, numerous runners and high fruit yields. Inspect the runners and determine which runners have the healthiest leaves. If the runner has already formed a tiny baby plant, it is a good candidate for division. Roots may have developed along the runner, choose a spot on the runner that has the greatest amount of roots. Cover the runner with dirt, approximately halfway between the mother plant and the daughter plant. About five weeks later, gently tug on the baby strawberry plant to test for root growth. If it does not come out, the roots have established. Cut the runner from the mother plant.
Do not propagate June-bearing strawberry plants during their first growing season. During the first year of growing June-bearing strawberry plants, pinch off all of the flowers. Rather than devoting energy towards fruiting, the plant will devote its energy towards becoming established and producing runners. Let runners develop during the second year of growth. Allow runners to grow and take root after harvesting the strawberry plants. In late August, ensure that the daughter plant’s roots have established. If so, divide it from the mother plant.
Divide ever-bearer and day-neutral strawberry plants after harvesting them during the first growing season. Pinch the flowers off ever-bearing and day-neutral strawberry plants until the end of June. Do not allow ever-bearing strawberry plants to develop runners until the mother plant has decreased fruit production in the late summer. The best time to divide ever-bearing strawberry plant from the mother is after the mother has become “exhausted.” It is not necessary to pinch the runners off day-neutral strawberry plants when they emerge. Therefore, they are ready for division earlier than ever-bearers. Propagate day-neutral strawberry plants as roots form along the runners. Cover part of the runner with dirt and cut the baby plant from the mother once roots are established.