2015 October 22 – Our first experience with runners occurred after our plants begun their fruiting journey. We had fruits on many flowering stems but also noticed odd little joint on some other stems. Members of our gardening groups who lived abroad and had strawberries in their gardens, told us these were runners and also how to root them.
Runners, pinned on soil, will grow new roots. They become new plantlets and can be separated from the parent.
We decided to try rooting some runners and see what happened next.
A strawberry vertical “tower” was brought down to allow runners to be pinned for rooting.
As the weeks passed, it slowly gained strength to stand upright 🙂
When the strawberry runner developed more established roots, we can separate it from the parent plant by cutting the attached stem.
Above plant died soon after separation.
On hindsight, it might have been better to root this runner without the extra burden of carrying fruits as well. Most of these developing fruits dried up and did not grow more.
2016 – 2017 Observations
Rooting runners experiments continued after 2015 in spite of countless failures.
Rooted runners were donated to other gardeners to explore. Seedlings did not survive as well.
A chance discovery – Stressed Alpine plants trigger runners
This runner was caused by a near break in a stem. The more pronounced the stress, the bigger (more aggressive) the runner.
Experiment 2 – What happened if we do not root or remove runners?
After a while, the red stems became more brown and all the runners died. Parent plant also lost energy. To save the parent plant, these runners were cut. Flowers did not show for another 5 months and most did not turned into fruits.
2017 October 08 – The tale of two plants, grown from the same pack of seeds. The plant with no runner have fruits.
The other plant (with runners) had no fruits but nonetheless, remained healthy. After the runners were cut, it still survived in 2018, in my outdoor pot.
In the pot, this plant with runner is on the lower right corner. It was observed to be a slightly larger plant compared with the rest of the plants which remained true to their heirloom characteristics. Its leaves were also darker green and thicker.
In September 2018, this plant showed flowering buds and runners (not rooted) at the same time.
Non Runner Plant Characteristics
- Thinner Lighter Green Leaves
- Very red stems during flowering stage
- More fruits but smaller in size
Plants with runners
We explored how did these plants from same pack of seeds displayed hybrid characteristics such as runners and regressed flowers while most others remained true to their heirloom properties.
Looking back, the reason was likely how they began their journey.
Seedlings with runners started their journey outdoor in our compost pots by accident. They germinated when we recycled the seeds soil and these seedlings suffered 3 days of torrential storms in the week of May 21 2017.
From a very young stage, outdoor seedlings were different from those that were germinated indoor with no stress.
Comparison of indoor (red stems) and outdoor stressed seedlings.
As they grew, the red stems returned to our hybrid plants, but they were other differences, such as thicker stems and larger leaves.
The above seedling matured into the runner plant illustrated in this post.
Runner Plants Characteristics
- Bigger Plant
- Thick stems and leaves
- Regressed flowers, 2 years to reach this stage
- Bigger but few fruits (once runners are removed)
- Red stems do not showed until third month
Observations on our runner’s plants, seeds grown parents –
- They don’t last even with established roots mass once cut from the parent plants
- When they survived, fruiting was delayed
- In colder countries, when strawberry parent plants returned in the Spring, their energy is renewed and they fruit better every season. Their plants are able to propagate from runners. In contrast, in the tropics, runners seem to deplete energy from parent plant even more.
- Rooting Runners = Delayed fruiting or worst case, keep sending out runners
- DISCLAIMER – These observations are based on my own plants (from seeds) and may not applied to every strawberry plant (types, varieties)
2018 HYDRO Plants
We learned from experience not to keep runners on plants or root them since 2016.
On our hydro plants, flowers showed within 10 days once runners were removed.