Are strawberry plants invasive? | Tips to control strawberry runners

Strawberry plants can become invasive if they are allowed to naturally spread via runners. Runners will grow from the center of the plant and new strawberry plants will grow from these runners as these small stems embed themselves in the ground. Strawberry plants can produce up to 5-6 new plants from a single mother plant in a season.

Strawberry plants can spread rapidly and there are some great ways to take advantage of this to grow new plants without letting them take over your garden. This article will explore all you need to know about how strawberries spread and how to keep them under control.

How strawberry plants spread

Strawberry plants can spread by growing runners from the crown of the plant. Long stems will grow out with small leaf clusters on the end. If these find soil they will send down roots and start to grow a new strawberry plant.

Within a few weeks these runner plants can actually send out their own runners spreading the plant even further. This happens rapidly over fall to early winter where a single plant can reproduce to grow 5-6 new ones.

This is easy to control by simply snipping off the runners at the base of the plant. Keep trimming them off as they grow and you can maintain the mother plant allowing it to grow larger and to establish a healthy root system.

Here are two strawberry runners that ended up growing very close together.

How far strawberries spread

Strawberries can spread over a 5-6 foot area in one season if they are allowed to spread without being trimmed. If strawberry plants are left each season they can cover a large area if they have access to moist soil.

Strawberries can take over a raised garden bed over a winter season if each runner is not trimmed off. While strawberries do spread rapidly they are very easily controlled. Removing small strawberry runners before they have grown roots is the best way to control their spread.

Strawberry plants have taken over half of my raised garden bed in one season.

How to stop strawberry plants from spreading

Strawberry plants can be kept from spreading through your garden in 3 easy ways. Here are my top tips for controlling strawberry plant spread.

1. Prune off runners before they establish

The easiest way to control strawberry plant spread is to trim off the runners as they appear. You can tell that they are runners rather than leaves because the stem is round, tough and small leaf clusters will start to grow at the end.

Simply take some sharp secateurs and snip the runner off near the base of the plant. The runner can be composted if it has not established roots and it will break down over time.

Trimming off runners before they grow will allow the strawberry plant to focus its energy on growing a strong, large mother plant to produce more fruit over spring and summer.

New strawberry runners that have grown from my original mother plant.

2. Dig out and transplant small runner plants

The next option to prevent your strawberry plant from taking over a garden bed is to dig out small runner plants once they have established. Within a few weeks the runner will touch the soil and start to grow roots.

The runner plant will rely on the mother for food and water until its roots are established. You can then snip the plant off and dig it out. Transplant it to a new pot with good quality potting soil and water it well. This new plant can be left to grow in the pot, given away to friends or moved to another area in your garden.

3. Place a pot with soil underneath the runner

The third way to control the spread of your strawberry plants is to place a pot filled with soil underneath the runner. Once the runner has grown leaves, lift it up and place it on top of the soil in a pot. Use a small rock or piece of wire to hold it down. This plant will establish roots in the soil in the pot and can be snipped off.

This is the perfect way to grow a new plant and avoid any transplant shock as it can stay and establish in the pot.

Growing new strawberry runners straight into a pot can help to reduce transplant shock.

How to get rid of invasive strawberry plants

While some strawberry plants can quickly take over your garden it is very easy to control them. Strawberry plants have relatively shallow root systems so can be dug out completely by using a spade to lift them from below.

Cut a circle around the plant and lift it out completely, shake off any soil and you can throw the plant away. Do not put it in your compost as an invasive strawberry plant could regrow.

Even invasive strawberries can grow delicious fruit.

Do strawberry plants affect other plants growth?

Strawberry plants can take over a garden bed but you can interplant them with other vegetables and herbs if they are kept under control. I have been growing my strawberries with tomato plants this year and they are both thriving.

Strawberry plants help to shade the soil for my tomatoes reducing the rate at which the soil dries. Both are watered well and mulched and both are growing fruit now that it is spring.

Strawberries happily growing between my tomato plants.

Are strawberry plants invasive | Summary

Strawberry plants can grow rapidly and take over a garden bed if you don’t control their growth. While they can invade the space, they are easy to control even after baby plants have established in the soil. Simply use a small spade to lift them up from the roots and transplant them or get rid of them.

Strawberry plants are great to grow at home and you can give away any extras that you don’t need. You will usually need at least 5 strawberry plants to give you enough to harvest to share around. Kids will quickly eat strawberries before they even come inside so don’t worry about growing too many.

Happy growing.