26) Strawberry runners: use flower pots and bulb planter

In this tip:

  • Introduction
  • A)# Growing a runner in a flower pot
  • B)# Big grown runners in flower pots
  • C)# Planting out (bottomless flower pot with cut side wall)
  • D)# Planting out (general)
  • E)# Strawberry plants at August 17
  • F)# Winter and spring
  • G)# Strawberry plants and harvest next year
  • H)# Which runners to be used
  • I) Storage of flower pots
  • J) Strawberry growing tips on the internet
  • K)# Wikihow

In this tip I describe how to “plant” strawberry runners in bottomless plastic flowerpots. They grow into big strawberry plants with large root balls.

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Introduction

Many gardners let strawberry runners grow in small flower pots. When the strawberry children have roots in the soil, the horizontal stem of the runner is cut. After some weeks the small strawberry plants are taken out of the pots and planted in the garden.

strip 11

strip om plant

It is useful to put a plastic strip around the mother plant to hold the leaves together (see white/orange arrow). So there is more room for you to put the runners in flower pots. The mother plant does not suffer from this strip. The strip may be around the mother plant until the big runner plants are replanted.

I use a bulb planter to put empty flower pots in the soil. In each pot I cut a small slot to lead the horizontal stem between mother plant and runner.  This prevents the offshoot from slipping out of the pot.

After putting the runners on the pots, water the mother plants and runners for many weeks so runners will grow fast.

I tested three kinds of flower pots:

  1. Flower pot without bottom part and closed side wall
  2. Flower pot without bottom part and cut side wall
  3. Flower pot with bottom part

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A)# Growing a runner in a flower pot

On this photo you see an offshoot that is big enough to have the roots growing in the soil. There are no roots at the runner (yet). The next offshoot is already visible.

Always use the first offshoot, counted from the mother plant. Use sharp scissors to cut away the next runner.

Lay the plant aside. Use a bulb planter to make a round hole in the soil.  You can choose the depth or the diameter of the hole. Open the bulb planter and turn or wiggle it in the earth to make a wider hole. Hole diameter 10 centimeters (4 inch), depth 15 centimeters (6 inch).

Take the bulb planter out of the soil (in closed position). In the soil there is a round hole to put a flower pot in. The earth is still in the bulb planter.

You can put various flower pots in the hole in the soil.

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A1) Bottomless flower pot with closed side wall

When you let a runner grow big in a bottomless flower pot, the root ball can grow very big; the bottom of the flower pot is not in the way.

One can use this type of flower pot. Diameter is about 10 centimeters 4 inch (top). The bottom part of the pot has been cut away. A slot has been cut in the upper edge. The slot is used to lead the horizontal stem between runner and mother plant.

Below you’ll find a description using this type of flower pot.

Put the flower pot in the hole in the soil. Turn the slot in the flower pot towards the mother plant.

Next step is filling the flower pot with garden soil and manure (or compost). The runner needs manure or compost to grow big.

You can put (in turn) little scoops of garden soil and manure in the flower pot until the pot is full. Much work. Not so handy.

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The following procedure works very well:

Shake the bulb planter to drop the garden soil in a small square (or rectangular) tray or a bucket with pouring spout. Later on, the garden earth is put in the flower pot again. That goes easy when using such a tray or bucket.

Add a few spoons (or a little flower pot full) of fine-grained, dry manure to the garden earth and mix. Mixing: stirr garden earth and manure with a spoon or shake the tray (bucket).

Put the mixture of garden earth and manure in the flower pot in the garden soil.

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Remark: usefull too:

You can put manure and garden earth seperately in the flower pot (so no mixing). You can do as follows:

  • First put a few table spoons (or 1 small flower pot) of manure into the flower pot in the soil.
  • Then put the garden earth from the tray (or bucket) into the flower pot.

My experience: in “manure at the bottom, garden earth above”, strawberry plants grow just as well as in a mixture of manure and garden earth.

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Press on the mixture in the flower pot. Because loose soil in the flower pot easily dries out. The strawberry plant (runner) does not grow well in dry soil.

This pressing goes well with the down side of the bulb planter (the bulb planter is near during this work). When using the bulb planter, the soil is pressed firmly, but not too much.

After the first pressing, the flowerpot will not be full anymore. Then put some more mixture or garden earth in the pot. And press on the soil again.

Bend the strip above the slot and lay the strawberry runner through this slot. Lay the runner on the earth in the flower pot. When needed turn the flower pot to have the plant right in the middle of the pot. Water the plant in the flower pot.

Remarks:

  • When the strawberry runner doesn’t have any roots, lay the plant on the earth in the pot. Do not “dig in” the plant. Do not strew earth on the plant.
  • When the plant has some small roots, fill the flower pot with garden soil and manure or compost. Make a small hole in this soil. Put the roots of the plant in this hole and carefully strew some earth around and on the roots.

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  • Later on, the flower pot with big strawberry plant and root ball is digged out of the soil. The side wall of the flower pot is cut (with scissors) to release the root ball and to take the plant out of the flower pot. The strawberry plant with root ball is planted in the garden soil. You end up with a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall. Can you use that flower pot again (next year)?  See below, chapter A2).

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A2) Bottomless flower pot with cut side wall

One can use a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall. In this flower pot the root ball can also get big, the bottom of the flower pot is not in the way.

On the left side of this photo you see an “uncut” flower pot.

At the right, you  see a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall. The slot is opposite to the cut in the side wall. Reason: when putting the flower pot in the soil, the slot is not disformed.

Below a description how to use such a pot.

Use a bulb planter to make a round hole in the soil. Then press an uncut flower pot in the hole until the upper edge touches the garden soil. You can wiggle the flower pot during this pressing to make the hole some larger and wider. (You can’t do this when using a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall).

When needed, use the bulb planter to enlarge the hole in the soil (first take out the uncut pot). Then put the uncut flower pot in the hole again.

After the insertion of the uncut flower pot, the hole in the soil can be shallower and narrower (due to garden earth shoved and fallen in the hole). When this happens, remove the flower pot, and widen and deepen the hole again.

Take out the uncut flower pot. Put a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall in the hole until the top edge of the pot is a little above the soil, or touches the soil. Put the pot in such a way that the slot is towards the mother plant. On this photo you can clearly see the slot (right rear side) and a small overlap of the cut sides (left front side ). This small overlap is no problem; it occurs because the hole is just a tiny little smaller than the cut flower pot.

Then put in a mixture of garden soil and manure or compost, press on the soil in the flower pot and lay the runner on. Water the runner and the mixture in the pot.

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uitloper pot 18a

When there are no more well fitting “cut open” flower pots, you can use a bigger cut open flower pot to have a runner growing in. Put the big flower pot in the planting hole with an overlap, as shown on the photo above (green/bue arrow). Then put manure and garden earth in the flower pot, press on the soil and lay the runner on.

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A3) Flower pot with bottom part

In another test I used a flower pot with bottom part. All roots of the plant grow in the pot. The plant must get all nutrients from the soil in the pot. The root ball can’t grow big.

There are no photos of putting in the runner.

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After putting the runners on the pots, water the mother plants and runners for many weeks so runners will not dry out, will grow fast and get many roots.

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B)# Big grown runners in flower pots

In July or August (mid to late summer), my strawberry runners are big enough to plant out. Below you’ll see photos of big strawberry plants in various flower pots.

B1) Bottomless flower pot with closed side wall

A big strawberry plant grown from a runner. The plant is still in a bottomless flower pot.

…… the side of the flower pot has been cut and the plant has been taken out.

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B2) Bottomless flower pot with cut side wall

Big strawberry plant in a flower pot. This is the old model flower pot; the slot is near the cut side wall. It is more usefull to have the cut side wall opposite the slot.

The big strawberry plant has been taken out of the flower pot.

This flower pot (bottomless and with cut side wall) is very handy when planting the strawberry plant. Further at chapter C)# you can read how to put these plants very easily in the garden soil.

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B3) Flower pot with bottom part

Strawberry plant in a flower pot with bottom part.

The strawberry plant has been taken out of the pot.

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B4) Learnings

  • Underneath a bottomless flower pot, there are many roots. A plant with many deep growing roots does not dry up so easy. That is okay when gardening in sandy soil.
  • A bottomless pot with a cut side wall is useful when taking the big strawberry plant out of the flower pot and when planting in the garden soil. You can use a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall when planting a runner.
  • In a flower pot with bottom part the roots have less space. The roots of these plants are not so deep in the garden soil. So risk of drying up in sandy soil.  It is hard to remove the flower pot from the root ball. Especially when many long roots grow through the holes in the bottom part of the pot.

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A flower pot with removed bottom part or a bottomless flower pot with cut side wall show the best results. The strawberry plant grows with a big deep growing root ball.

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C)# Planting out (bottomless pot with cut side wall)

When planting strawberry runners, it is harder to use a bottomless flower pot with cut side. First you have to put an uncut flower pot in the soil, enlarge the hole in the soil and then put the bottomless pot with cut side wall in.

But planting out strawberries, grown in bottomless flower pots with cut side, is very easy;

Dig a deep hole in the soil.

Put the flower pot with plant in the hole. Use your hands to shove garden earth below and around the flower pot with root ball. Take care that the top of the root ball (the soil in the pot) is at about the same level as the garden soil. And fill the space around the flowerpot with garden earth.

Pull the flower pot slowly and gentle out of the soil, while the plant remains in the garden soil. This goes rather easy because the “flower pot” is only a cut open ring, loose in the soil. When needed use your other hand to hold the plant (root ball) in the soil.

Press on the soil around the strawberry plant. Take care that the plant is at the right depth in the soil. The upper side of the root ball (top of the soil that was in the flower pot) mus ba at the same level as the garden level. When needed, push the plant some lower or higher, or shove or remove some garden earth.

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D)# Planting out (general)

Planting out can be done as follows:

  1. Loosen the soil of the new strawberry bed. Dig up the soil withe a spade. Or use a fork.
  2. Use a string or elastic band to plant out in a straight line.
  3. Again and again make a big hole in the soil using a scoop.
  4. When desired strew some manure or compost in the hole.
  5. Or: Take the plant out of the flower pot (with closed side wall). Hold (with one hand) the plant in the hole at the right position. Shove (with the other hand) garden earth underneath and around the root ball.                                                                                     Or: Put the flower pot (with cut side wall) with the plant in the hole in the soil, at the right level. The carefully pull the flower pot out of the soil. The strawberry plant remains in the garden soil.
  6. Each strawberry plant must be planted in the garden soil just as deep as it was in the soil in the flower pot. So top of the root ball is top of the garden soil.
  7. When all has been planted, water the soil and the strawberry plants.

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A row of “recently replanted” strawberry plants.

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E)# Strawberry plants at August 17

August 17 (late summer).  Strawberry plants from my runners in my garden. All runners have been grown in bottomless flower pots.

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August 17 (late summer).  Strawberry plants in the garden of a colleague. These plants have grown from “normally planted runners”, so not in flower pots.

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F)# Winter and spring

During winter the plants need no coverage. Strawberry plants need freezing cold weather to form flowers and fruits in the next season.

Only at heavy frost you can put some straw over the plants. Remove the straw when temperature is some higher again.

In early spring you can put plastic foil with holes is put over the plants. You can use the same construction as the tunnel for bean plants of tip 11, using perforated plastic film.

When you use tunnels of wire netting against birds (tip 32), you can lay perforated plastic foil with holes over it.

Keep the foil over the plants in spring. The foil makes the plant grow faster. Flowers appear earlier. The flowers need not to be pollinated by bees or other insects. Each flower turns into a fruit. At least at my species of strawberry plants.  Remove plastic foil at late spring.

Lay straw between the plants on the soil when flowers and first green fruits are there. When needed lift the branches with flowers and fruits and put straw underneath. Due to the straw there will me no (or less) mud on the fruits during rain or heavy showers. Fruits with mud splashes can rot. So straw minimizes rotting of strawberries.

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G)# Strawberry plants and harvest

You can plant big or small “big grown runners” in the garden soil. As a test I put big or smal strawberry plants in the garden soil.

Early spring there were 2 groups of plants; big plants and small ones.

On this photo small plants at the left, big plants at the right. When you click on the photo it will appear screen wide.

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On this photo small plants with “few” strawberries at the left, big plants with “many” fruits at the right. When you click on the photo it will appear screen wide.

Conclusion: The big “big grown runners” turned into big strawberry plants with many fruits.

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H)# Which runners to be used

To have big strawberry plants next year you must grow big runners. To do this:

  • Take runners from healty mother plants (these are big plants with many fruits).
  • Use first (and when desired second) “runner stem” from these plants.
  • Experiment: at some big strawberry plants let many (5 or so) runners grow big.
  • Cut away each next runner stems from the mother plant.
  • Use the procedure as described in this post.
  • Plant biggest plants in the garden soil.
  • After taking away the big grown runner plants, you can keep 1 row of mother plants in the garden for one more year. Check if this fits in your crop rotation system.

In 2019 I found that you can grow many (up to 5) runners at one plant. All runners grew into big strawberry plants. Big or small strawberry plants growing from runners also depend from the size of the mother plant and the fertility of the soil.

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I)# Storage of flower pots

When the bottomless flower pots are not used, you can make a pile of pots on an “uncut” flower pot.

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J)# Strawberry growing tips on the internet

On the internet there are many sites about growing strawberries. For example:

https://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-strawberries/

http://www.almanac.com/plant/strawberries

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K)# Wikihow

In wikihow, I wrote an article about this.  Click at Wikihow4

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