Do Strawberry Plants Spread? Are They Invasive?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 08/26/22 •  6 min read

Do Strawberry Plants Spread? Are They Invasive? Strawberry plants are one of the most popular plants to grow in the garden at home they produce beautifully sweet fruit that cannot be matched by the fruits you buy in the grocery store, however, if you’re growing strawberries for the first time one of the questions you may ask is do strawberry spread? And are they invasive in any way like raspberries are?

Strawberry plants to spread through the production of runners which they tend to produce in mid to late summer going into autumn. The runners can typically extend over a foot in length and will produce roots at the nodes of the runners whenever they touch. However, the rate of spread is generally not considered invasive at all.

Most gardeners use the production of runners as a method of propagating the plant and producing new plants for the following year. The use of these runners is vital for ensuring that you maintain a productive strawberry patch at home in your own garden. 

The reason this is particularly critical for strawberry plants is that they are typically only productive in the first 3 years of their life and will stop producing both runners and fruit after that period in most cases. Therefore to maintain a productive garden it is critical to constantly replenish the plants.

However, it is important to note that while strawberries only remain productive for around 3 years they will continue to survive 6 to 8 years and it is common for many beginner gardeners to end up having a non-productive strawberry patch. This happens because strawberry plants produce the best yields in the third year and then don’t do much at all after that.

Inexperienced gardeners put that down to the strawberry plant having a bad year in year 4 and it is only once it has a second and third bad yet that most people begin to realize that there are no further strawberries coming.

Is It Easier To Control The Spread Of Strawberries?

As mentioned above the plants will produce runners that are approximately footlong. The number of runners that is produced by an individual plant varies between 3 and 10 runners in most cases depending upon the specific variety. To read more about this click here.

These runners will produce viable plants at the end of each season which can easily be removed and repositioned into your strawberry patch to control the growth. However, like any plant that is left completely to its own devices, it will spread gradually year-on-year throughout the garden if allowed to. Generally, speaking they are pretty easy to control and not considered a problem at all.

How To Ensure That Your Strawberry Patch Keeps Producing

As mentioned above strawberry plants are usually only productive for the first 3 years therefore, it is important to be systematic about how you manage the strawberry patch, if you’re anything like me you forget what you planted when.

The easiest way to manage this is to have three separate beds of strawberries if practical. These beds should be divided based on the age of the plant into year 1, year 2, and year 3 plants. The objective should ideally be to remove third-year plants at the end of the season and replace them with new ones which can be generated by the runners within the strawberry patch.  

It is important to note that when the strawberry plants produce runners they divert energy away from the development of the crowns which reduces fruit production. It is therefore recommended that you do not allow more than two or three plants two develop on anyone strawberry plant as this will detract from the quality of the fruit in subsequent years.

However, if it is a third-year plant that you intend to remove it from the garden at the end of the season strawberry plants can be allowed to grow as many runners as they need to ensure that you have enough plants to replace the third-year plants.

How To Propagate Strawberry Plants

As mentioned above strawberry plants will propagate without your intervention in most cases, however, there are a couple of things that you can do to encourage them to develop new plants. The simplest and most effective strategy is to ensure that when a runner is produced the node of the runner remains in contact with the soil constantly. 

To do this it is advisable to pin the runner down on the ground with wire or a rock to allow the roots to get into the soil and develop. While this root development is happening the runner needs to be connected to the mother plant as it continues to supply it with nutrients until the plant is self-sufficient.

In most cases, the new plant will be self-sufficient by the end of the season and can be moved in the autumn by snipping the runner and replanting the new plant into your preferred location.

Caring For Strawberries

Strawberries are generally a fairly easy plant to grow and require very little maintenance in order to remain healthy, however, there are a few things we do recommend that you do once a year to maximize the production of plants. These steps should typically be done in late autumn as winter is approaching.

The first thing as mentioned above is to transplant any new plants into then your locations. Secondly, is to replenish the soil by adding a new layer of compost to the plants. If you are doing this consistently year-on-year it is not necessary to dig the layer of compost into the soil just simply placed it around the plants and it will eventually get incorporated through the action of worms.

In addition to this, it is a good idea to reapply a layer of mulch that is 2 to 4 inches thick. This will help to suppress the formation of weeds and also protect the plants from cold and frosty conditions during the winter period. 

Additionally, it is worth also pruning the plant to this stage to remove any spent fruit and flowers. Any dead or dying leaves should also be removed from the plant at this point as leaving them on will provide an access point for disease and pests to get into the plant. If you follow these simple steps you will get a bumper crop of strawberries every single year.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success growing strawberries in the garden at home, if you have any additional comments or questions please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart