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Strawberry patch lifespan include babies produced from original plants?  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I've looked around the web but I can't seem to find an answer to a question about strawberries:

Every where I look it says that strawberry plants have a lifespan of 3-5 years, then they stop producing berries, die off.

Everything I read says that basically you have to rip out the whole patch and start all over, but that doesn't make sense to me.
Wouldn't the younger plants produced by the stolons of the original plants take over for the ones that die off?

Shouldn't a patch be more or less permanent,  Just replacing itself little by little each year? Or is there some built in genetic
limit that kills off the whole patch, older and younger plants all at once?

 
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Hey Cris, I have had my current strawberry patch in Denver for about 12 years. It seems to just keep going and going. I just let them grow wild, no rows. The young plants are always planting themselves and I guess the old ones just fade away? I usually go in and dig up any plant that is in my "walking/picking" path, and pot them into trays and give them away. I did the same thing in Wyoming and that patch was at least 10 years old.
 
Cris Bessette
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Thanks for that response Miles.

I spent a good hour searching Google and everything I read says that you essentially have to start over every so many years.
Just watching how they grow and spread themselves and procreate that seems questionable to me. 

Maybe that's just some "garden wisdom" that is just handed down generation after generation without question? 
 
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When I was looking into this, I found an article that claimed that ever-bearing strawberries do not spread by stolons, only by seed. So, to compensate for this, return your strawberry scraps to your patch. Strawberry tops, with seeds attached, then you'll always be sprouting new plants from seeds each year to replace the dying plants.
 
Cris Bessette
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The plants I have are mystery plants.  They came from the edge of the woods of my property.  They definitely spread by stolons.
I started with about five plants a few years ago, now I have hundreds. 
 
Miles Flansburg
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I am wondering if that "wisdom" comes from agricultural farming of strawberries. It seems that they grow on rowed mounds covered with plastic and do not let energy go to the stolon plants so they would have to replant ?
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Cris Bessette wrote:They definitely spread by stolons.
I started with about five plants a few years ago, now I have hundreds. 



I'd think your plants will be replacing themselves then. And then some.
 
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You're correct in your hunch — an individual strawberry plant may only produce for 3-5 year, but any new plants from runners reset that timer. Often people pull the whole "rip up the whole patch and replant" when they keep the strawberries in a contained, linear row under plastic that prevents runners from creating new plants. If you let strawberries do their thing, they'll keep going indefinitely.
 
Cris Bessette
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Kyle Neath wrote:You're correct in your hunch — an individual strawberry plant may only produce for 3-5 year, but any new plants from runners reset that timer. Often people pull the whole "rip up the whole patch and replant" when they keep the strawberries in a contained, linear row under plastic that prevents runners from creating new plants. If you let strawberries do their thing, they'll keep going indefinitely.



That's pretty much what I was guessing.  Putting strawberry plants in an artificial situation results in the necessity for replacement. 
Letting them grow like they do in nature, should result in self-replacing plants.
 
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In my experience old dead strawberry plants prevent new plants from starting. A strawberry patch that is 5-6 years old starts to die in the middle but the outside edges spread and thrive.

I manage this by killing the plants in the middle on purpose, and planting something else there. This makes for multiple strawberry patches that move a little every few years.
 
Miles Flansburg
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That is interesting Leora, I wonder if it has to do with the type of strawberry?
Mine have been in the same spot for years and the little ones just keep filling in any small space that they find.
 
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In some climates, pathogens such as red stele can build up in the soil and infect runners as well as the older plants, eventually wiping out the patch.  Strawberries are a plant that needs to be continually moving onto new soil.
 
Leora Laforge
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Miles Flansburg wrote:That is interesting Leora, I wonder if it has to do with the type of strawberry?
Mine have been in the same spot for years and the little ones just keep filling in any small space that they find.



We have both June bearing and everbearing. I think this is more noticable with the June bearing because it produces more stolons and spreads faster. The everbearing does this too though.

I think maybe the older plants don't send out as many runners. All the younger more productive plants are at the edge of the patches. I think new plants root better on more open ground rather than competing against an established plant.

 
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I manage my strawberries similar to Leora. I plant in rows, then after a row has been producing for 2-3 years, I run the tiller over it. The runners are left as a new row a few feet away from where the previous row was. So the strawberry beds migrate across the field. I might till a row under if perennial grasses have overtaken it. After the grass is minimized, then the strawberries may be allowed to reclaim the area.
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"Rip out the whole patch and replant" is probably propagated by the strawberry plant suppliers...
 
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I learned, that if you don't put up a proper deer fence in my area, you must completely replant on a daily basis, and it will never stop, unless you get that fence up. They eat them roots and all. 😨
 
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