Strawberry runners offer an easy solution to a homegrown strawberry addiction. You can increase the size of your existing patch or maintain peak production season after season by transplanting some of the innumerable runners that form from the mother plants, secondary growth, and tertiary runners. This is an easy task if you know where to place these plants and how to move them safely, so follow the guidelines below and enjoy another large batch of strawberries next growing season.
Step 1 - Decide When to Transplant
Strawberry runners can adapt most effectively when transplanted in the late summer to early fall, after fruit has formed, matured, and been harvested.
Step 2 - Choose an Area With the Best Conditions
Your transplant area should be in full sunlight, facing south or west. Additionally, the soil should be free of weeds and large stones, have organic mulch worked in, and have excellent moisture drainage. It should also be slightly acidic, with a pH value near 6.5. Avoid transplanting strawberry runners into soil that has previously grown tomatoes, raspberries, or potatoes to avoid spreading fungus-based disease.
Step 3 - Choose the Best Transplant Candidates
Select runners from your youngest plants, or those that are the most productive. Then, remove flower buds, dead leaves and stems, and dead roots before transplanting them.
Do not transplant from beds that are already three or more years old, as they are naturally slowing down production. Obtain fresh seeds or young plants to establish a new strawberry patch next spring.
Step 4 - Lay and Notch Landscape Fabric
To speed up the acclimation of a large number of transplants, cover the ground with fine gauge landscape fabric before planting. This will enhance moisture retention and discourage weed growth in the new patch. Overlap the landscape fabric by three inches at each edge so it forms continuous coverage.
Step 5 - Dig out Runner Roots and Transplant
Using the pointed spade or the handheld spade in tight spaces, dig down to the bottom of the root bed around your runners, about three to four inches. Then, dampen clumps of sphagnum moss and press them gently around the roots to retain moisture, and transplant and water one runner at a time. Cut the landscape fabric in an "X" 10 inches in diameter and dig a planting hole for each runner, four inches deep and 10 inches wide. Set the root mass and the sphagnum moss into the hole and re-cover with the garden soil. Press down the soil gently around the roots and pull the landscape fabric around the root crown. Adjust the runner so it forms a straight row.
Do not water newly transplanted strawberries from above to prevent leaf scorching. Supply water from a garden hose or watering can to the root mass only.
Step 6 - Care for and Water the Transplanted Runners
Keep the new transplants in moist soil throughout the fall until the first frost, then stop providing water to them. Pull weeds promptly as well, so the runners can stabilize in their new soil. As winter approaches, mulch the landscape fabric with dry straw or dried leaves, but avoid grass clippings as they will introduce mold to the strawberry roots.