Strawberry Seed Growing: Tips On Saving Strawberry Seeds


I had a sudden thought today, “can I harvest strawberry seeds?”. I mean it’s obvious that strawberries have seeds (they’re the only fruit that has seeds on the outside), so how about saving strawberry seeds to grow? The question is how to save strawberry seeds for planting. Inquiring minds want to know, so keep reading to find out what I learned about growing strawberry seeds.

Can I Harvest Strawberry Seeds?

The short answer is, yes, of course. How come everyone doesn’t grow strawberries from seed then? Growing strawberry seeds is a bit more difficult than one might think. Strawberry flowers pollinate themselves, meaning that after prolonged seed saving, the plants would become inbred with less than stellar berries.

If you save seeds from Fragaria x ananassa, you are saving seeds from a hybrid, a combination of two or more berries that have been bred to bring out the most desirable traits of each and then combined into one new berry. That means that any fruit won’t come true from that seed. Wild strawberries, however, or open pollinated cultivars, such as “Fresca,” will come true from seed. So, you need to be selective about your strawberry seed growing experiment.

I use the term “strawberry seed growing experiment” because depending upon the seed you select, who knows what the results might be? That said, that’s half the fun of gardening; so for those of you who are seed-saving devotees, read on to find out how to save strawberry seeds for planting.

How to Save Strawberry Seeds for Planting

First things first, saving the strawberry seeds. Place 4-5 berries and a quart (1 L.) of water in a blender and run it on its lowest setting for 10 seconds. Strain out and discard any floating seeds, then pour the rest of the mixture through a fine meshed strainer. Let the liquid drain out into the sink. Once the seeds are drained, spread them out on a paper towel to dry thoroughly.

Store the saved seeds in an envelope inside a glass jar or in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator until one month prior to planting them. One month before you plan to plant the seeds, place the jar or bag in the freezer and leave it for a month to stratify. Once the month has passed, remove the seeds from the freezer and allow them to come to room temperature overnight.

Growing Strawberry Seeds

Now you are ready to plant the strawberry seeds. Fill a container that has drainage holes to within ½ inch (1.5 cm.) of the rim with damp sterile seed starting mix. Sow the seeds an inch (2.5 cm.) apart over the surface of the mix. Lightly press the seeds into the mix, but don’t cover them. Cover the container with plastic wrap to make a mini greenhouse and place it under a grow light.

Set the light to run for 12-14 hours a day or place the mini greenhouse on a south-facing windowsill. Germination should occur within 1-6 weeks, provided the container temperature remains between 60-75 degrees F. (15-23 C.).

Once the seeds have sprouted, feed the plants once every 2 weeks with half the amount of seedling fertilizer recommended. Do this for one month and then raise the amount of fertilizer to the standard rate recommended by the manufacturer for seedlings.

Six weeks or so after germination, transplant the seedlings into individual 4-inch (10 cm.) pots. In another six weeks, begin to acclimate the plants by setting the pots outside in the shade, first for a couple of hours and then gradually extending their outdoor time and increasing the amount of sun.

When they are acclimated to outdoor conditions, it’s time to plant. Select an area with full sun, and well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Work in ¼ cup (60 mL.) of all-purpose organic fertilizer into each planting hole before planting the seedling.

Water the plants in well and mulch around them with straw or another organic mulch to help retain water. Thereafter, your new strawberry plants will need at least an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week whether from rain or irrigation.


How to Start Strawberry Seeds Indoors

Strawberry plants are perennials that can produce fruit year after year, beginning the second year after starting them from seeds. You can start strawberry seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area. Some strawberry seeds need to be cold treated prior to germination, so make sure to check the specific requirements of the type of strawberries you plan to grow before you plant them indoors. Most strawberry plants germinate within 21 days and will be ready to transplant into the garden or into containers within two months.

Cold treat strawberry seeds by wrapping them in plastic wrap and placing them in the freezer for 30 days. Remove them from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator for several days. Remove them from the fridge and place them in a slightly warmer location such as an unheated garage or basement.

  • Strawberry plants are perennials that can produce fruit year after year, beginning the second year after starting them from seeds.
  • Cold treat strawberry seeds by wrapping them in plastic wrap and placing them in the freezer for 30 days.

Gradually increase the temperature around the seeds over the next several days until they reach room temperature. Not all species need to be cold treated. Skip this step for those cultivars or if the nursery has already cold-treated the strawberry seeds.

Fill the seed trays 3/4 full with a sterile, soil-less planting medium such as vermiculite or another commercial seed starting mix. Look for seed trays and soil-less planting medium at your local garden supply or discount store.

Spread two to three strawberry seeds on top of the planting medium in each tray section. Cover the seeds lightly with a layer of soil-less medium. Water the seeds and cover them with a sheet of plastic wrap.

  • Gradually increase the temperature around the seeds over the next several days until they reach room temperature.
  • Fill the seed trays 3/4 full with a sterile, soil-less planting medium such as vermiculite or another commercial seed starting mix.

Place the tray in direct sunlight or beneath fluorescent grow lights. Flip the plastic wrap every day to avoid condensation build-up. Keep the seeds moist.

Watch for the second set of true leaves on the strawberry seedlings. Thin out the weakest plants and move the seedlings into larger containers. Wait until all threat of frost has passed to plant your strawberry plants in your garden. Plant them anytime in containers that have good drainage and filled with slightly alkaline soil.


When to Start Strawberries

Because strawberries are perennials, the plants will come back each year. So taking the time to give them a good start will absolutely be worth it in the long run.

Bareroot strawberries can be planted anytime. But when you start strawberries from seed, you’ll want to keep them indoors in the early spring to help them along until the last frost has passed. Simply press the seeds into a moist potting medium in seed starter trays, and allow several weeks for germination.

One major benefit of growing strawberries from seed is you can plant several different varieties of your choosing, as long as they can grow in your climate. But a drawback is you likely won't have a good harvest of fruit for a year after planting. This is certainly a case where good things come to those who wait.

The Spruce / K. Dave

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How to Dry Strawberry Seeds

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Strawberries are not true berries because the seeds are not contained inside the fruit. Instead, strawberries have small, yellow seeds, known as achenes, on the outside of the fruit. Technically, each achene is its own individual fruit, each with its own self-contained seed. You can remove the achenes easily from well-ripened fruits, either by pushing the berries through a fine sieve or blending them with water and collecting the settled seeds from the bottom of the blender. After separating the seeds, you must dry the strawberry seeds before storing them so the seeds don't rot.

Rinse the seeds thoroughly with cool water to remove all strawberry pulp and juices.

Spread the seeds out on a paper towel to soak up the moisture. Blot the seeds with a second paper towel to soak up water from the top of the seeds.

Transfer the seeds to a clean, dry paper towel or a sheet of newspaper.

Place the newspaper or paper towel in a cool, dry place for about one week to allow the seeds to dry. You can place the seeds in a sunny window to expedite the drying process.

Change the paper every other day and turn the seeds over to ensure even drying throughout the entire seed. An easy way to do this is to lay a clean paper towel over the seeds, then flip over both paper towels with the seeds sandwiched between.

Check the seeds regularly to determine when they are dry the seeds are dry when they feel hard if you try to crush one in your fingers.

Store the seeds in an airtight container until ready to start transplants in early spring. If you have desiccant drying bead packets, commonly used to absorb moisture in packaged food products, add them to the container to help absorb any additional moisture while you store the seeds.

  • Strawberries are rather difficult to cultivate from seed, but you can increase the chances of fruitful plants if you use heirloom seeds rather than those of hybrid strawberries commonly sold in grocery stores.
  • Another method to expedite drying is to place the paper towels or newspapers in a food dehydrator on the lowest heat setting. The temperature inside the dehydrator should not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.


How to Harvest Seeds From Your Garden

There are many benefits to saving seeds from your garden crops. Not only can you save money on next year’s crop, but you can create plant varieties that grow well in your environment. Reusing seeds is fortunately an easy process that can be replicated each year for better results. Follow these simple guidelines to start saving seeds for years to come.

Growing Healthy Seeds

You want to harvest seeds from only the healthiest, most robust plants in your garden. This starts by selecting good plants that germinate at a high percentage, have vigorous seedlings, and reach full maturity. Once you've targeted the right candidates, you will need to wait until the appropriate time to gather the seeds.

Collecting Seeds

The best time to harvest seeds depends on the plant variety. For many vegetables, such as squash, tomatoes, and melons, they should be picked when ripe. Beans and peas, on the other hand, should be left alone until they are fully dry and cracking. Remember to consult the specific type of plant to ensure you are harvesting at the optimal time.

Drying Seeds

Beans, okra, basil, peppers, and certain onions are all considered dry seeds. Cleaning dry seeds should be done after the plant has completely dried out. If rain is an issue, you can harvest the husks and pods and place them in a dry and moisture-free area to continue the drying process.

You can start cleaning the seeds once the husk or pod easily crumbles in your hand. Remove the larger chunks and place the rest of the mixture in a large bowl. Shaking the bowl will cause the heavy chunks to rise to the top. To remove only the seeds, use a screen or mesh with holes just large enough to allow the seeds to pass. Repeat this process until only the seeds remain.

Cleaning Wet Seeds

Wet seeds include eggplants, many squash varieties, and tomatoes. The process of cleaning wet seeds is a lot easier than their dry counterparts. You want to make sure the vegetable is completely ripe before harvesting seeds. Once they are fully mature, remove the vegetable from the stalk and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Fill a large bowl with water and mix the seeds and pulp inside. Use your fingers to separate the pulp. The good seeds will naturally sink while dead ones will rise with the pulp.

After you have successfully removed the wet seeds, they need to dry out before going into storage. Drain excess water with a strainer and pat the seeds dry with a paper towel. Spread out the seeds on a plate and store in a cool and dry environment for a few days.

Storing Seeds

You want to make sure each seed grouping is properly labelled to avoid confusion down the road. Envelopes are a good way to store seeds as they can be easily labelled. Glass jars are great for larger groupings. Just remember to label the seeds with the kind and variety, where you purchased the original seed, and when they were harvested.

It’s best to store seeds in a dry and cool place. Avoid environments that contain moisture as this can encourage the seeds to sprout or develop mildew. Certain seeds, such as potatoes and onions, can be stored in open containers.

Seed Longevity

Seeds can last anywhere from two to 10 years, depending on the type of seed and storage conditions. You can ensure the seeds are still good for planting by performing a germination test. If the seeds successfully germinate, then they are ready for another season of growing.

Avoid using hybrid seeds for next year’s crop as this might yield an entirely different type next season. Instead, stick with standard seeds or hybrids you know will yield consistent results. Some plants are biennial, which means they don’t produce seeds until year two.


How to Save Strawberry Runners for Next Year?

Question: How to Save Strawberry Runners for Next Year?

I will live in NW PA and am moving there this winter. I would like to dig up some strawberrie runners and save them to plant in the new location in the spring. How do I go about bear root storage?

Answer to: How to Save Strawberry Runners for Next Year?

Cathy,
The easiest way is to dig up the already-rooted runner plants you want to keep, dirt and all, and put them into cheap plastic pots. Keep the plastic pots somewhere where it won’t get too warm or too cold (avoid extreme freezing and keep the plants in their dormant state). Putting them in pots or other suitable containers will allow you to water them through the winter. If their roots dry out, they die. If you do shake off all the dirt from the roots (not recommended), you can store them in sand, peat moss, wood chips, re-cover with dirt, or just about any moisture-holding medium. Re-plant them in the spring as you normally would. Much more information can be found here: Storing Bare-Root Strawberry Plants. In addition, be sure to check out the additional information on overwintering strawberry plants. Also, if you don’t have a plan for how you intend to deploy your perennial plants, consider the methods discussed on the Transplanting Strawberry Plants page. Good luck!

This is a question submitted to StrawberryPlants.org by a reader. See the Strawberry FAQ for more questions and answers.

23 thoughts on “How to Save Strawberry Runners for Next Year?”

Hi, I have a raised bed approximately 2m long X 1m wide 7 inches deep with soil 6 inches deep. I have grown strawberries for the past two years this year was extremely bountiful. The runners are out and establishing quite well. There are about 20 plants all now with runners, the bed looks as though it could be overcrowded. Each plant has about 6 stems can I prune them back to say 3 stems per plant to make room for the runners, or should I move some plants to another bed. Will it be suitable to use 4 – 6 inches of straw over the winter months.

I’ve just bought bare root strawberry plants (Gigantella Maxim) approx 20 in the pack. I live in South Wales UK. I don’t want to plant them now can I freeze then in-till planting next Spring. Or is there another way of keeping them? Thanks in advance.

Mark Hill,
It is not advisable to freeze them. It is best to go ahead and plant them, let them develop roots, and then mulch them over the winter. The success rate is much higher that way. If you absolutely want to try to keep them un-planted over the winter, here’s how. Good luck!

I have a greenhouse and I plan on starting strawberries in the spring in a strawberry tower.
My question is. We go south for the winter and I was wondering how to save the plants for future planting.
I have bought bear root plants in the past and would like to know how to do it so I don’t have to buy new plants every year

Darlene Fremeau,
Here is how to store bare-root plants. However, in your situation, it will be difficult to make it work all winter due to the monitoring and watering needs. Good luck!

I live in zone 9 and trying to keep my plants till October how do I do that

billy,
I’d recommend starting here. Good luck!

We live in Arctic Canada and I would like to keep my strawberry plants until next spring. I think digging them up and bringing them in would be the only way. If not how can I do that? How do I keep them alive but dormant inside?

Pam,
It is difficult to do. The light and the warmth triggers them to leave dormancy. If you can control the humidity and prevent mold/fungus from growing, you can keep them in a refrigerator. You do have to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out, and some may die regardless, but that can at least save a few. The refrigerator should be dedicated to only storing the plants, however, as there will be mold spores of some sort in most refrigerators. Good luck, and let me know if you are successful!

Hi! I m from India . We plant strawberry in sept till may . As from May temp raised to 45 degrees . My question is how can I preserve runners in that extreme conditions ( May to August ?

Bharthari,
You’ll most likely need to keep them in a climate-controlled room to avoid overheating or pathogen contamination. Good luck!

If I put down a fabric for weed control, can the runners still set root through them?
Thanks

Dave,
They will be hampered significantly, although some might root well enough to survive. It is better to poke a hole in the fabric or cut small “X” in it and then place the runner node into it so that the root will be in contact with the soil. That will work much better and allow the runner plant to flourish. Good luck!

When we get out new strawberry plants each year they seem to come
directly out of a freezer and are frozen together. We thaw them out and plant them right away.
We want to save our runners or plants in this way for next season. When would we dig the plants ? and are they really kept all winter in a freezer?

Hazel MacKenzie,
You can store them in a freezer, but you will need to control the humidity as well as the temperature. In order to survive, the plants need appropriate temperature AND moisture. Usually, the plants aren’t kept in a freezer all winter by the suppliers, but are kept in the freezer for a time to induce dormancy, and then shipped out as demand requires. To learn more, see this post on overwintering. Good luck!

Should I fertilize the new plants I am potting for next year ?
Options: Cedar Grove Booster Blend all purpose 10 10 1012 special blend 4 4 2 with mineral, bacteria & fungi. The soil is pretty good. (I also have the leachate of vermicompost).

Barbara,
10-10-10 is a good blend for strawberries. See here for more: Growing Strawberries. Good luck!

Hi, I planted one of those Topsy Turvy strawberry things and it grew very well long runners but not but a few berries. The runners are still on the pot hung outside but I was just trying to find out if I should just leave them or clip them down so they won’t have to feed all the runners next spring?? I live in Omaha Nebraska and this was my first planting of them this last spring of 2012. I would aprreciate and advice on what to do with them to actually produce berries nex year, Thanks.

Cole Meyo,
You might have difficulty producing a good harvest of strawberries with the Topsy Turvy planters. I have written about them here, if you are interested: Topsy Turvy Strawberry Planters. For other reasons why your strawberries aren’t producing strawberries, see here: Runners but no Berries. Also, the runners should have been rooted and separated from the mother plant once the roots for the daughter had established themselves. For more, see the Strawberry Runners and Transplanting Strawberries pages. Good luck!

I cut runners off and transplanted them. I know the answer to this question is probably the one I fear, but will the baby plants grow a root system without the attatchment to the parent plant?

Heidi,
Unfortunately, no. If you snip the runner prior to the roots developing, the runner plant will die.

hi, we are a small ky farm. we are trying to start up a strawberry picking farm. i have around 500 plants that includes original parent plants . this year we have had few strawberries, and many more runners then i thought possiable.

i was wondering how do you know how many to grow to sell and save for your own family. if i was to plant let say once acre.
and do they need water all year long if we are low in that area.
thank you b shaw

brenda,
See the Growing Strawberries reference page as it will answer most of your questions. Also, be sure to check the links at the bottom of the page as many more topics are covered there.


What is a Soil Activator?

Soil activators come from naturally sourced soil products containing humic acid and humates. These substances are the end product when organic matter breaks-down completely and stabilizes. Soil activators feed microbes and earthworms, enriching the soil and benefiting plant growth.

You can apply soil activators in liquid or granular form to a compost pile or directly to the soil before planting. The advantages are:

  • Improved soil texture
  • Increased levels of available soil nutrients
  • Extended-release of soil fertilizers
  • Stronger root systems
  • Stimulation of soil microbial activity

A soil activator for lawn care reduces lawn thatch buildup, producing a lusher, greener lawn.

How to Use a Soil Activator to Grow Strawberries

Soil activators come in liquid and granular forms. When growing strawberries, you can apply a granular soil activator of 35 percent humic acid at a rate of 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Apply the soil activator at the time of planting or in the fall before planting the next spring.

You can buy liquid soil activators in pre-mixed and concentrated solutions. Read the product label and follow the directions for how much to use.


FAQ s

Can you grow strawberries from a strawberry?

Yes! As long as you choose the right variety and follow the steps in this article, it’s actually pretty easy to grow strawberries from a strawberry. The basic steps are:
1. Get a really ripe strawberry and harvest the seeds.
2. Plant the seeds in a high-quality seed starting medium.
3. Once they’re big enough, transfer to pots.
4. Once they’ve grown to first-year maturity, plant outside in their final positions.
For detailed instructions, read the full article.

Can you plant a whole strawberry?

You can try, but planting a whole strawberry isn’t a good idea. Strawberries contain a lot of water and they decay rapidly, so if you just plant a strawberry straight into the soil, it’s more likely that the strawberry flesh with rot and grow mold which will also destroy the seeds before the seeds get chance to sprout.

If you really want to grow strawberries from a strawberry, you’re much better off spending an extra couple of minutes harvesting the seeds from the flesh of the fruit and planting them properly.

How long does it take strawberry seeds to sprout?

It varies considerably depending on the variety of strawberry, the soil conditions, and your climate. While it can be as fast as one week, it often takes up to six weeks for strawberries to sprout.

Strawberry germination can also be rather sporadic, so you may get a few sprouts after a week or two, and more will appear over the next month.

Where can you plant strawberries?

Strawberries are hardy and versatile, so they can thrive almost anywhere. Their main requirements are at least 8 hours of sunlight and free-draining, loamy or sandy soil. They struggle in excessively damp conditions and with heavy clay soil.

What do strawberry sprouts look like?

When they first germinate, strawberry seedlings only have two tiny, round “seed leaves”, better known as cotyledons. Then the true leaves start to develop. First you’ll see a pair, with a third appearing shortly afterwards. This completes the first set of trifoliate leaves, and more sets will follow. Strawberry leaves at this immature stage have pronounced serration and are usually fairly light green. The serration becomes less pronounced as the plants mature.

How long does it take strawberries to grow from scraps?

How long it takes to grow strawberries from scraps depends on your climate, soil conditions, and strawberry variety. However, you can usually expect to harvest your first strawberries within about 3 months of planting the seeds.

How do I get my strawberry plants to produce more fruit?

1. Make sure your soil is nutrient-rich, with plenty of organic matter mixed in to provide adequate aeration and moisture. See our organic gardening guide for soil management advice.
2. Help your plants reach their full potential by nipping out the flowers for the first year. This encourages the plant to focus on root and crown growth.
3. Trim runners as soon as they have true leaves if you want to grow them, as this stops them pulling nutrients from the mother.
4. Use organic fertilizer during the growing season, before the fruit sets.


Watch the video: How to: Grow Strawberries from Seed A Complete Step by Step Guide


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