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How strawberry plants grow

Key points

  • Parts of the strawberry plant include the crown, roots, leaves, runners, daughter plants, blossoms and fruit.
  • Strawberry plants reproduce via runners.
  • Pollinators are critically important for strawberry production.
Whole strawberry plant with crown, roots, leaf runners and daughter plants labeled.

Strawberry plants are unique from many other fruit crops because of how they grow and reproduce. Understanding their anatomy will help you learn to manage them.

Parts of a strawberry plant

Crown

  • The strawberry plant grows from a dense “crown” at the base of the soil.
  • The leaves, fruit, runners and roots all grow from the crown.
  • Strawberries are usually planted as dormant bare root crowns with just a couple of leaves and a small root system.

Runners and daughter plants

  • Strawberry plants reproduce through stolons or “runners.”
  • Runners extend out several inches from the crown, take root in the soil, and produce new plants called “daughter plants.”
  • In June-bearing strawberries, runners and daughter plants are necessary for the plants to spread and fill out the rows, but they are removed from between the rows.
  • Runners are not needed in day-neutral strawberries, so they should be removed throughout the season.

Managing Strawberry Runners (Video: 00:01:29)

Leaves

  • Strawberry leaves have three blades per leaf, on long stems.
  • Leaves are dormant from late fall to mid-spring

Roots

  • Strawberry roots are generally shallow.
  • Most roots occupy the top 6 inches of soil except in very sandy soils, where they can reach down to 12 inches.

Flowers and fruit

  • June-bearing strawberries start blooming in late May and fruit heavily from mid-June to mid-July in Minnesota depending on cultivar.
    • The buds are formed the year before.
  • Day-neutral strawberries flower from June until the first heavy frost in the fall.
    • The first flower to bloom within each cluster produces fruit first and is usually the largest.

Pollination and bearing fruit

A white strawberry blossom with a green fly collecting pollen from its yellow center.
In addition to bees, some flies also pollinate strawberry blossoms.
  • Most strawberry varieties are self-fruitful, meaning they do not require cross-pollination from a second variety. 
  • There are hundreds of stigmas on each flower. Each stigma must receive pollen in order to develop a large, well-formed berry.
  • Wind helps to move some pollen from the anthers to the stigmas, but insects are the primary pollinators of strawberries.
  • Some commercial growers bring in colonies of bees to pollinate their strawberries.

Authors: Annie Klodd, Emily Tepe, Emily Hoover, Extension educators

Reviewed in 2021

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