My strawberry plants have produced a bumper crop this year: first treating me to a pretty display of blossoms, followed by masses of plump juicy fruit. The berries, however, never make it to the table, or even further than the patio for that matter! They disappear immediately upon ripening and it doesn’t take Inspector Clouseau to discover the culprits; the trails of red juice dribbling down my son’s chin are a dead giveaway.
Towards the end of their fruiting period the plants began to produce numerous runners, which extended out as if in search of a place to call home. As some of my strawberry plants are a few years old I took the opportunity to propagate some youngsters for next year.
It’s a simple process involving little effort as the plants do most of the work themselves; simply select the strongest looking plantlets and weigh them down on the soil using a rock or (as I prefer) a peg. If a runner has a number of offspring sprouting from it, then it’s advisable to select the one nearest the parent, as this tends to be the strongest. Any shoots beyond this should be removed, along with excess runners from which you do not intend to propagate. This ensures the mother plant directs energy and reserves only to itself and the propagating plants, rather than wasting it on surplus runners.
There’s no need to bury the youngsters deep into the soil, as weighing them down will be enough to encourage them to put down roots. Within a few weeks the new plants will have rooted and flourished adequately to enable you to sever the ‘stolon’, or link to the mother plant.
As my strawberries are housed in terracotta pots, I propagated the new plants in smaller pots placed next to the originals. If you prefer a bed of plants then the runners can be rooted either directly into the ground or in pots sunk into the soil. The latter method is preferable as it limits root disturbance should you decide to transplant the new plants later. What are your top tips for successful propagation of strawberries?
I’ve been delighted by how well my plantlets have established; although they make for an unusual looking display on the patio. The original plant resembles a matriarch attached to her numerous progeny by a web of umbilical cords.
With the next generation flourishing, the moment will soon arrive that every parent dreads; when those ties must be severed and the youngsters allowed to go-it-alone. My only worry is how they’ll survive the winter, as in the past I’ve failed to sustain strawberries through the colder months. How do you protect your strawberry plants when the weather turns cooler? Is it best to move them indoors for shelter? I’m determined to safeguard the latest additions to my garden and look forward to next year’s mouth-watering crop.