How Do Strawberry Plants Reproduce Asexually?
The strawberry plant, which is a perennial capable of living several years, has more than one way of reproducing. One of its reproductive strategies is the typical sexual method used by vegetables and fruit, wherein a plant produces flowers that, after pollination, lead to fruit and seed. The strawberry plant has another reproductive strategy, though, this one asexual, accomplished through stems called runners. Additionally, strawberry plants can produce shoots from the main stem capable of becoming new, separate plants.
A strawberry plant's main stem is called a crown. This crown produces spirals of leaves, runners, flowers and "branch crowns," which are shoots that create more crowns. When days are long and warm, the plant produces runners. These are offshoots of the parent plant, stems growing out from the crown along the ground. At intervals along the runner, nodes appear. From each node, a "daughter plant" can develop, complete with roots and leaves. Most commercial growers mainly use runners to propagate new plants. Runners are also called stolons.
Strawberry varieties that don't produce a lot of runners can be manually propagated by dividing those plants that develop branch crowns during their growing season. Branch crowns appear after runners have had a chance to create new plants. The crown of the parent plant, exposed to shorter, cooler days, produces shoots that behave like new crowns. These crowns grow leaves of their own, arranged in spirals like those of the parent plant. Gardeners can dig strawberry plants up in fall to divide branch crowns from the original crown, storing the branch crowns for planting during the following spring.
Sexual Reproduction: Flowers
Strawberries produce perfect flowers, that is, each flower possesses both male and female parts and can self-pollinate to produce seeds and fruit. Yet, cross-pollination—pollination between plants—produces stronger plants. This explains why the male parts of a strawberry flower don't release pollen for a few days after the bloom opens. This allows insects to move between plants.
Fruit and Seed
A strawberry flower can have up to 600 pistils, which are female parts. Each contains an ovary, which, when fertilized through pollination, produces "achenes," the seeds we see on the outside of a strawberry. The fleshy part of a strawberry is the flower's swelled receptacle (another female part). Eaten by birds, the strawberry seeds can be deposited miles from the original plant in droppings. The achenes germinate with exposure to sun. Usually seeds are stimulated to develop by moisture.