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Growing Strawberry Daughters from Runners

Updated on June 22, 2010

Starting Your Runners

Have you ever grown strawberries but didn't know what to do with those little feelers/suckers that grew off of them? Do you grow your strawberries in pots and you would like to expand the amount of plants you have but have no access to seeds?

This hub is on how to start a strawberry plant from a runner (those feeler-like things that grow from the mother strawberry plant). Eventually the runners will grow a daughter plant with roots and that's when the weaning begins!

Materials needed:

  1. strawberry daughter/runner (still attached to mother plant)
  2. 1 or more seedling pots (depending on your needs. Your pots may be as big or small as you wish. I prefer the small ones so the runner doesn't have to stretch so far and add stress to growing daughter plant.)
  3. potting soil
  4. bobby pin (yes, a hair pin)

Terms to know:

  • daughter - the small plant that grows at the end of a runner.
  • runner - the long stem that grows out from the mother plant.
  • crown - where the roots meet the stem of a strawberry plant.

stretched-out bobby pin
stretched-out bobby pin

How to:

  1. Fill your seedling pot with medium or potting soil. I live in an area with red clay so I like to mix that into the potting soil to keep the moisture in the medium longer.
  2. Take the bobby pin and stretch it out a little bit so it can fit over the feeler or the crown of the plant you're working with.
  3. Place daughter plant in prepared seedling pot, roots facing the dirt and pin plant into dirt with bobby pin. Use discretion on whether to pin down the feeler or crown. I have pinned it both ways depending on how the feeler and daughter plant is twisted from mother and which level of force is needed to keep the plant down. Push pin down until you feel resistance. Sometimes the bobby pin will go down all the way, sometimes it won't, depending on thickness of feeler or crown.
  4. Leave daughter alone for one week and water the daughter plant as needed. After one week, carefully pull out the bobby pin only and test the daughter plant's roots by tugging gently on the daughter plant. If you find the roots have dug deep into the potting medium, the plant will not budge and you may clip the feeler from the mother plant and the daughter plant or leave longer if you wish. If daughter plant lifts out of soil, re-pin her down and leave for another week before testing again.

You're done!

My strawberry mother plants are in a small strawberry Topsy Turvy and I couldn't figure out how to reap the daughter plants from their mothers as it hung. Then one day my grandma suggested I take the Topsy Turvy from its hanger and place it on our seedling table, which I did and was then able to follow these instructions. Since starting this new procedure, I have had 100% success daughter growth and independence and in clipping the daughter plants from their mothers with very little stress.

Now I am in the process of testing how a feeler will survive from the daughter plant that grew while daughter was still attached to mother. It is looking good so far. Most times one would want to trim the feeler off to keep all nourishment focused on the newly independent daughter plant.

During the first season I have read that one should clip the flowers and feelers to keep all nourishment within the mother, making her stronger and building her up for the second season and fruiting. Right now I am using the mothers to create daughters and the daughters will be the ones I keep trimmed for the first year/season.

In an article I read about feelers and daughter strawberry plants, the author instructed to clip feelers from daughters so the daughters could grow strong and keep nutrients to themselves. I have a few of those clippings in a plastic soda bottle filled 1/3 of the way with water. The feelers grew granddaughter plants which I have just pinned in their own seedling pots. If it is successful, I may write about that as well.

Daughter with Bobby Pin

Strawberry daughter pinned with bobby pin on runner.
Strawberry daughter pinned with bobby pin on runner.


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    • louisxfourie profile image

      Louis Fourie 4 years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa

      I will definitely use your hub.

    • profile image

      robin 5 years ago

      i am developing a strawberry patch and have some :mother plants"that are prolific. i find that putting the mother plant in the shade and small peat pots or even babyfood jars to start the new plants is working well. had some dry out because the sun was too overbearing. its like getting free plants. i use twist ties the kind that come in larger garbage bag boxes, i bend them into a bobby pin shape and since they are a bright green i can see them easily since i have bad eyesight.

      do you have suggestions as to where to cut the runner stem? i often see several areas on the runners some not as developed as the ones on the ends, should i cut them on the side of the new plant? how do i "winter" these new plants? i have raised beds, i live in washington state so the moisture can freeze fairly deeply. my berries did come back but the ones i moved into my garage greenhouse dried out and most died. i was considering useng hay or straw to let them hide from severe frost and snow,

    • The Pretend Child profile image

      The Pretend Child 7 years ago

      Hi Lilian!

      Sorry it took me so long to reply. Unfortunately I left for a month long trip and when I returned home, my strawberries in the topsy turvy dried out and died so I was not able to attempt a transplant.

      This whole year I've been dawdling with seedlings and separating even old seedlings whose roots have tangled together. I found that as long as the soil had been kept moist, even the most difficult root systems were able to be pulled out.

      If you are brave enough to try, I would suggest waiting until the fruit-bearing time is over so you can reap as much as possible. It might be a bit difficult to get the strawberries out without cutting the topsy turvy. Maybe you can try rolling the topsy turvy upside down between your hands to loosen the dirt a bit and let the plants slowly fall out? I can only imagine it wouldn't turn out so well. When I was going to attempt it, I was going to cut them out and then soak them in water for a bit so roots would be wet and not dry enough to snap.

      Whatever you do, please tell me how it goes :D And good luck!

    • profile image

      Lilian 7 years ago

      Wow! I'm glad I read to the bottom... I'm actually looking for information on strawberry roots - and topsy turvy planter. Perhaps you can help?

      When I initially placed the plants into the topsy turvy, I didn't realize the soil would compact as much as it did... some of the plants died off and the rest... about 1/2 are doing really well and are bearing fruit, and the other 1/3-1/2 are not seated properly so new leaves could grow OUT of the holes.

      I've been contemplating taking the topsy turvy off, placing on a table, muddle around with the soil to dump out what's currently loose, and re position the plants.

      I'm not sure if the roots would all be intertwined -- causing potential malnutrition to my fruit bearing ones or if I should bite the bullet and redo the potting so the rest could survive.

      Any suggestions? Have you done anything with your mother plants in the topsy turvy in terms of re-potting?

    • The Pretend Child profile image

      The Pretend Child 7 years ago

      You're welcome! I did a lot of reading online and some of their processes were so complicated and intricate that I kind of lost hope. But I figured I had to make do with what I had and it came to me one day. I believe all things can be explained and accomplished in simple ways, its just a matter of finding them. I hope you have success with your strawberries!

    • profile image

      dorothy 7 years ago

      Thank you so much. I have been just staring at my strawberry runners wondering what I had to do with them. All my books make it sound SO difficult but this page is great. Thanks again xxx