What is a runner?
A runner is a shoot or stem coming from the root of some plants. These “shoots” are produced by all June-bearing strawberry plants and most ever-bearing and day-neutral strawberry varieties.
Strawberry plants produce runners to propagate themselves. This is basically how the plant reproduces. It lays down the runner looking for soil. Once it finds it, the shoot attaches itself to the soil and starts to root. This is where a new plant will develop.
Why prune them?
As the plant lays down its runners, it expends a lot of energy into producing its offspring. There are two schools of thought here. Some people won’t even let the plant lay down its runners as too much energy is taken away from the plant and less energy goes into strawberry production. Others think that the runners should be allowed to take root, but be cut away from the parent plant immediately after the new plant has established itself.
I am a fan of both methods. Strawberry plants only produce fruit for a few good years and then production drops off dramatically. I usually cut shoots I see coming off the plants for the first couple of years. After that, I usually let the plant propagate itself because I know they are aging and they will be producing less over the years. Then I will cut the runner away from the parent plant.
Never leave the plants attached to each other as it serves no purpose and you may be setting yourself up for failure if one of the plants dies, it could take the other one down with it.
Benefits of runners
Runners are great for establishing new plants. After all, this is how the plant reproduces itself. Growing yourself new plants is as easy as laying the runner down and letting it root. Once it is established, just dig it up and plant it wherever you like. If you really want to be creative, lay the runner down in a pot filled with soil to let it root. Then transplant it.
For more info on strawberry runners, watch the video below: