Updated: February 10, 2021
When transplanting strawberries your goal is to have productive two and three year old plants every year. Why? Because strawberry plants are only fully productive in their second and third year.
This article describes how to transplant strawberries and gives you a plan for getting the most from your strawberry patch by transplanting daughter plants (a.k.a. runners) every year.
As I said at the beginning of this article, your goal is to have a steady stream of two and three year old plants every year. Another important point is that you should make sure that these plants are well spaced.
Unfortunately, crowded plants don’t grow as vigorously and are more susceptible to Mold on Strawberries. So you need to give them plenty of space.
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Table of Contents
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Getting daughter plants from runners
Fortunately, strawberry plants give you an easy way to keep two and three year old plants in your patch. Each year, they send out runners with baby plants on them. You can use these babies to repopulate your patch with new plants.
The best time to transplant strawberries is in early fall.— Suburban Hobby Farmer
Left to their own devices, these daughter plants root wherever they land. Often, they root nearly on top of one another. As I mentioned above, this is not ideal.
Even backyard gardeners who use the traditional row method of growing strawberries will have difficulty keeping track of the age of their plants. This is because beds will have plants that have all different ages.
In fact, the row system breaks down, and it’s really hard to keep track of the ages of your plants. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to get the daughter plants to grow where you want them. So crowding is inevitable.
Controlling daughter plants
To avoid plant mayhem and get control of your new plants from runners, use this five step method to plant them where you want them:
- Step 1: Fill four or five inch pots with a mix of compost and potting soil. If possible, the soil should have a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5. You should have as many pots as you have daughter plants.
- Step 2: Find the most vigorous daughter plants on runners before they root in the bed. Then, cut off all the other runners and daughter plants and discard. There should be no runners left other than the ones you selected.
- Step 3: Dig a hole in the ground under the remaining daughters and bury the potting soil filled pots level with the ground.
- Step 4: Place the daughters inside the pots and anchor the runners in place using pieces of metal coat hangers bent to the shape of a “U.”
- Step 5: Let the daughters root into the pots. This should take about eight weeks. It’s best to start in spring or early summer. This way, the daughter plants will be available to plant in early fall. The best time to transplant strawberries is in early fall.
It’s important to note that once you cut the runners between the mother and daughter plants, you must keep the babies well watered to encourage their rooting and avoid plant loss.
Now that you have rooted your daughter plants over the summer, you can get started transplanting them into your bed. Here’s my step by step method for transplanting strawberries:
Time needed: 15 minutes
Transplanting from established runners (a.k.a., daughter plants).
- Prepare your bed.
You want to create a bed in a sunny location (at least 6 hours of sun) with well drained slightly acidic soil (5.5 to 6.5 pH). Add as much compost to the soil as you are able. You need to remove all weeds and any grubs that you find. You can make the bed as large or as small as you have time to care for it. Obviously, the larger the bed the more time you will need.
- Select your daughter plants.
If you’ve rooted your runners in a pot as I suggested above, select which of these you want to transplant. You want to pick plants that are young and healthy. It’s best if you haven’t been rooting them too long. They should have established roots, but only started rooting for about two months. Remove any flowers or yellow leaves.
- Keep roots moist.
You should water your daughter plants to keep the roots moist when transplanting. Never let roots dry out. This is important to avoid plant loss.
- Transplant strawberry plants to their new home.
You want to be careful not to transplant them too high or two low in the dirt. If they are too high, you will expose the roots as the water washes away the mounded dirt. If it’s too low, the plant will suffer because it will get buried as soil fills in after watering. The transplanted plant should end up at ground level (or as close as you can make it.)
- Water immediately after transplanting.
You should water as soon as you transplant. Don’t wait until all the plants are finished. Transplant a plant, then water. Then repeat with the next plant. It’s important that the roots remain moist to avoid plant loss.
Transplanting plants year after year
Now that you know how to propagate and transplant strawberry plants, the next step is to create a plan for having a great harvest year after year. Remember that plants are most productive in year two and three of their lives.
There are many ways to ensure that your have two and three year old plants growing each year. Here’s a sample plan that uses three beds.
It also roots new daughters each year for three years and transplants them into a cleared bed. Keep in mind that each time you clear a new bed, you must prepare the soil for transplants by adding compost and organic material. This way, your soil gets replenished before you transplant daughters.
Another important point is that you can make the beds as small or large as you have time to care for them.
|Year one||Clear bed one. Plant new plants in bed one.|
|Year two||Clear bed two. Root daughters in bed one & plant in bed two.|
|Year three||Clear bed three. Root daughters in bed two & plant in bed three.|
|Year five||Clear bed one. Root daughters in bed three & plant in bed one.|
|Year six||Clear bed two. Root daughters in bed one and plant in bed two.|
|Year seven||Clear bed three. Root daughters in bed two and plant in bed three|
Transplanting strawberries FAQ
Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
The best time to transplant strawberry plants is in early fall. This is because there’s a good long stretch of time for the roots to grow when it isn’t too hot. This way the roots have a chance to get established without drying out.
You can, but there’s a good chance that you will damage the roots of a mature plant. It’s better to root runners in a small pot and transplant these daughter plants.
Yes you should remove four year old plants after the fruiting season. It would be even better if you replaced 3 year old plants after they fruit. Replacing plants will make room for new, productive plants and will encourage air flow between plants to help prevent mold from becoming a problem.
Yes, you should remove flowers during their first year. This will allow the plants to focus their energy on setting down a good root system. If you do this, you probably will get more strawberries in year two and year three.
You should pick a place where the soil drains well. It should be in full sun for more than 6 hours a day. Sun is important. It’s needed to produce good fruit. It also drys the leaves, which helps protect against mold.
There might be too much nitrogen in your fertilizer. Or, the plants may not be old enough. Or, maybe they’re too old. It may also be that the flowers are not getting fully pollinated.
For a productive patch, you need at least 6 hours of sun a day.
If you live in a place where the ground doesn’t freeze, you can transplant plants in winter. The important point is to transplant in the fall as soon as it isn’t too hot. This will give the roots more time to get established.
First, you want to cut UNWANTED runners off plants. Second, you want to make sure the plants get the right amount of strawberry fertilizer, sun and water. But probably the most important factor is to choose a variety that grows big and sweet. If you don’t have that, there’s nothing you can do.
Coffee grounds are not ideal for strawberry plants. Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, which will make the leaves grow, but not the berries. A lot of coffee grounds will make the soil pH too low (acidic). Strawberry plants prefer soil that is only slightly acidic.
Ensuring that your plants get the RIGHT AMOUNT of sun, water and strawberry fertilizer are the most important things you can do. Bumble bees also are good pollinators and will help ensure well formed berries. So, if you can, you should encourage bumble bees.
Yes they spread. Strawberry plants send out runners that grow daughter plants on them. Daughter plants will spread and root where they touch the ground.
Eggshells are high in potassium, which is good for strawberry plants. It’s probably best to grind up egg shells into small particles so the nutrients are more quickly absorbed by the roots. But this is a lot of work.
I don’t recommend that you plant any plants near your strawberry plants. This is because you should remove old strawberry plants from your patch, and that will upset companion plant roots.
You can encourage your strawberry plants to fruit by making sure they (1) have enough potassium in the soil, (2) placing them in a spot with more than 6 hours per day and (3) waiting until the plants mature enough (two years old). You can ensure there is enough potassium by adding banana peel compost and / or ground up egg shells.
Just like some apple varieties grow larger than others, some strawberry varieties grow larger than others, too. But you can help your strawberries to be as big as possible by placing them where they get more than 6 hours of sun, proper water, good strawberry fertilizer and compost. You can also remove all the runners that you are not going to use.
You should remove all the runners that you are not going to transplant in the future in order to get the best strawberries possible.
Yes! In fact, you should replace your mature strawberry plants with daughter plants from runners before your existing plants get too old.
Yes, you should strive to have a constant supply of two and three year old plants in your patch.
A smart chipmunk will find a way into any strawberry patch. That said, your only alternative is to grow them inside an enclosure that prevents break-ins.
Strawberry plants are most productive in year two and year three.
Now that you have read this article, you are an expert at transplanting plants in your strawberry patch.
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