Fruit for free - strawberries

Activity

Discover how strawberry plants produce long stems called runners that produce new plants. Peg down runners to encourage rooting and make new healthy young strawberry plants.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outoors
  • School term: Early Autumn, Late Autumn, Late Summer
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn how to identify a strawberry runner 
  • Learn that runners will make new plants

Essential background information

Preparation

Buy plants from a garden centre, ask if anyone has any to spare or use plants you have in your garden already

Equipment needed

  • Strawberry plants
  • Small to medium sized pots
  • Multipurpose compost (peat-free where available)
  • Labels, pens/pencils
  • Thin wire, or bent paper clips for pegging down
  • Trowels, gloves, watering cans
  • Secateurs (for cutting from parent plant)

Step by step

  1. Look closely at a strawberry plant and ask pupils to name parts of the plant.
  2. Point out the long stems called ‘runners’, growing away from the parent plant. Point out one that has tiny roots, appearing at the leaf axils, and others that have started to root.
  3. Explain that rooting is encouraged by ‘pegging’ down the runner, either into soil or compost.
  4. Fill a pot with compost and place close to a runner.
  5. Cut sections of thin wire about 10cms long and make into a ‘V’ shape. Alternatively unfold a paper clip. Peg down a runner at a leaf axil into the pot of compost. Label and water the pots.

4-6 weeks later

  1. Cut the runner free from its parent plant. 
  2. Alternatively dig and pot up some runners that have already rooted.

Hints & tips

  • To avoid the ‘parent’ plants being weakened, only use 2 -3 runners per plant to produce new plants.
  • Cut off all the other runners, these could be potted on separately, but they can be more difficult to root, unless kept moist.
  • Use this activity as part of Focus on Fruit class growing topic

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