Fruit for free - strawberries


Discover how strawberries produce new plants using long stems called stolons.

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

Learning objectives

  • To understand how strawberry plants produce new plants using stolons (or runners)

Essential background information


If you don’t already have strawberry plants in your school garden, you can buy them from a garden centre or online retailer or ask if anyone has any to spare.


  • Strawberry plants 
  • Small- to medium-sized pots  
  • Peat-free, multi-purpose compost 
  • Labels, pens or pencils 
  • Thin wire or bent paper clips  
  • Hand trowels 
  • Gloves 
  • Watering cans  
  • Secateurs  

Step by step

Stolons (or runners) are long, horizontal stems produced by strawberry plants. They can be pegged down to encourage the young ‘daughter plants’ to root and grow into new plants.

  1. Look closely at a strawberry plant. Can your pupils name different parts of the plant?
  2. Point out the long horizontal stems called stolons (also referred to as runners) that grow away from the ‘parent’ plant. Along these stolons, young ‘daughter’ plants begin to grow and tiny roots are often visible at their base. Encourage pupils to locate a daughter plant along a stolon.
  3. Explain that rooting can be further encouraged by pegging down the runner into compost.  
  4. Fill a pot with compost and place it close to the runner.
  5. Cut a section of thin wire approximately 10cm long and fold it into a V shape.  
  6. Peg down a runner near a leaf axil into the compost.
  7. Water the pots.
  8. Write the plant’s name and date on labels and insert one into each pot.  
  9. After 4-6 weeks, cut the runner free from the parent plant. These new plants can be planted out in mid-spring or early autumn.

Hints & tips

  • To avoid weakening the parent plants, only use two to three runners per plant. All other runners can be cut off and potted on separately.
  • If strawberries have been growing in your school garden for a while, some daughter plants may have already rooted in the compost. These can be dug up and grown on in their own pots.
  • Instead of wire, you could also use an unfolded paperclip.
  • Use this activity as part of the Focus on Fruit class growing topic.