UF Hack: A DIY Start To Strawberries

Increase the size of your strawberry bed using this simple and cost-free propagation technique.

by Aliza Sollins
PHOTO: Limerick6/Flickr

Many potted strawberry plants appear at stores in the springtime next to the annual vegetable starts, ready to supply eager gardeners at the start of the gardening season. However, to move up to the next level of strawberry growing, you can easily start your own plants from runners, aka stolons.

Many experienced growers create their own starts in late summer, after the plants have fruited. At this time of year, strawberry plants send out runners with small clone plants at each node. Set the clones into small pots (one per container) while still attached to the runners, burying the runners into the potting soil or pinning them down with a small piece of wire to hold the node in place.

Once the roots are established at the node, you can clip the runners from the mother plant. Steve Shepperson, a Kentucky grower who includes strawberries in his diversified crop production, recommends waiting four to six weeks for the new clones to establish themselves in the pots and to keep them under shade if possible.

The potting of your new strawberry plants should take place around early August. Once the root systems become more established, they can be set into a bed mulched with plastic or straw by early September.

After your plants of gone dormant for the winter, insulate your new strawberry bed with straw to prevent frost damage. StrawberryPlants.com has a list of great tips for over-wintering your perennial strawberry patch, including how to tell when your plants have gone dormant:

“Strawberry plants typically go dormant when the temperatures have dropped into the mid-20-degree-F range for three to four consecutive days. Plants can usually be identified as dormant by the older leaves, which will turn brown first. The younger leaves will turn from a bright green to a dull green or gray color.”

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If the weather is variable in early spring, you may need to cover your strawberries with a row cover to prevent the blossoms from being damaged by a late frost.

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