Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Propagate Strawberry Runners Into Containers

My strawberries are running!  I started a very LATE set of Strawberry crowns (June bearing) about mid-may.  So far, we've gotten 4 ripe berries, another will be ready to pick today, and we about about 6 smalls still on the vines.  Not sure they will ripen properly.

About half of them decided to bear fruit, the other half decided to become massive and send out tons of runners.  Instead of planting ALL of the runners, I decided to just do about 2 per plant.  I think this will give the child plants a good opportunity to grow and be healthy, and won't tax the mother plants too much.  After choosing the two strongest runners (most developed, no damaged spots in the runner), I clipped off the extras.  I had FOURTEEN extra runners that I clipped off besides the twelve I actually used!

I believe that when you do this, you are getting a plant that is essentially a duplicate (clone) to the mother plant.  As some of the healthiest runners came from plants that did not bear fruit, I'm a little concerned that I won't get a good crop next year.  I'm hoping that these plants will have a good chance to grow into healthy plants all summer, and next summer, they'll forgive me for planting their mothers so late.

We'll see.

Start with some moistened potting soil (much easier to handle and much healthier for the plant), and some containers that have holes in them for drainage.  We're getting ready to move and wanted to keep expenses down, so I used some cups I already had.

Fill up your containers, and get some good ol' bobby pins bent opened a bit.  Just go digging around WAAAAY back in your bathroom drawer.  You should have some there!

See how this runner actually started making two plants?  The first child plant is at the bottom of the photo, the grandchild plant (can I call it that?) is up by my hand.  Since I wanted the mother plant to be able to support and do its best with the child plant, I snipped off the grandchild plant.

I snipped it off where my finger is pointing.

Place the bobby pin GENTLY over the runner vine.  Be careful!  You don't want to cut the vine on accident.  Remember, you can always open the bobby bin a bit.  You don't want it rubbing into the vine constantly and killing your runner.

Stick the child plant/bobby pin down into the soil.  The bobby pins did a great job of holding the child plant down the way I wanted.  If you have any roots developing, make sure they are held down into the soil.  For smaller child plants, just do your best to make sure that the opposing side of where the little leaves will grow upwards are planted down into the soil.

Make sure you DO NOT snip the runner vine yet!  It needs to take root and develop with the help of the mother plant.

I've already had the first runner that I did this with take root.  Took about two weeks.  I'm going to wait until the plant has developed quite a bit and has some new growth, at which time I will snip it off from the mother plant.  I'm guessing about a 4-6 weeks.  I want to make sure it has plenty of time to go through the shock of being cut off from the mother plant, and begin growing on its own before the fall/winter come.

That's the great thing about planting these runners in containers.  Once you snip them off, you can give them a little time to go through the whole shock process, and then plant them where you want them.  It's more shock than if it went directly into the soil into a permanent home, but less shock than if you allowed them to grow in the ground, then snipped them from the mother plant, and then dug them up for a transplant.

So, propagate away!  Only 11 of my 12 original strawberry crowns survived, but I've already got 12 of these child plants going, and I've got my eye on some more more runners.  I'll probably end up with 15-18 if I can get these child runners snipped off, and a few more started soon enough.  It's a great way to double your bed or fill in any bald spots.

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