Strawberries are one of the most popular berries in the berry family. Their bright red fruits are both attractive in the garden and delicious to eat. Growing your own strawberries can be very rewarding, and your strawberry plants should yield fruit for at least four to five years. They are a great investment and are ideal for both beginner and experienced gardeners. Strawberry plants are very special because they can reproduce two completely different ways. A strawberry can reproduce both sexually and asexually; meaning they can self-pollinate or cross-pollinate to reproduce. Knowing where your food comes from and how it grows is very important. Here you can take a look at both ways that a strawberry is able to reproduce:
When a strawberry plant reproduces asexually, it does not have to mate or cross-pollinate. Instead, the strawberry plant will produce runner vines called stolons. These runners are what you see spreading across the ground. They look like a vine and should not be cut or picked off. These runners are used for asexual reproduction. These stolons will occasionally sprout nodes which look like small nodules on the runner and will eventually sprout their own plant. These sprouts grow into what are known as “daughter” plants. These plants will grow off of the runner and begin to produce their own fruit.
The best part about asexual reproduction is the quality of the berry. Daughter plants will yield the same exact fruit as the mother plant. This comes in handy when you want to harvest the same quality of fruit every season. Farmers use asexual reproduction when they want to keep the same strain of strawberries growing year after year. The daughter plant is basically an exact clone of the mother plant. This means that all the strawberries in your garden are genetically the same, even when you have multiple daughter plants growing. With this method, each season you will be able to enjoy strawberries you know you will love.
The second way in which a strawberry plant can reproduce is by sexual reproduction. With sexual reproductions there must be both a male and female plant to reproduce. During this reproduction process, the male and female plants cross-pollinate. They reproduce through the white and yellow flowers that sprout on the strawberry plant. Once a male and female strawberry plant have cross-pollinated you will begin to see buds of fruit growing on the vines. Once ripened, these strawberries will be one-of-a-kind and have traits from both the male and female plant, unlike asexual reproduction, where the daughter plant only takes after the mother.
Sexual reproduction is most often used when you have a male and female strawberry plant with traits that you want to mix. You might want to reproduce the size from the male plant and cross-pollinate it with the color or taste of a female plant to create your own variety of fruit. Using this reproduction method is very popular, and it has been in existence for a very long time. It helps to filter out “bad” strawberries that may have a bitter taste or unattractive color, shape or size. This method is used with most strawberries that are harvested and sold in stores, to ensure that you get the best tasting and best-looking strawberries.
Both methods of reproduction will yield an abundance of fruit. It just boils down to whether or not you would like to create your own, one of a kind strawberry using male and female traits from existing plants or if you want to keep enjoying the same fruit of your previous plants. With strawberries, there is always room for improvement, and the possibilities are endless. If you want consistency, then stick with allowing the plants to reproduce asexually naturally. If you want traits from two strawberries to be mixed into one, then experiment with the sexual reproduction process.
Once the season is over, you’ll need to clean up the garden, decide if you were happy with this year’s harvest, then start planning again for next year. Good fruits develop over time so don’t worry if it takes a few tries to get it exactly right.