Transplanting Strawberries

New Strawberry Beds

New Strawberry Beds

I try to keep three beds of strawberries in rotation and moving through the garden.  Bed one contains the newly transplanted plants.  Bed two holds one year old plants, and the third bed, two year old plants.  New plants yield little, but the one and two year old plants yield well.  Fall transplanting might make for better yields, but I prefer to transplant in spring when my clayey beds are very wet.  The strawberries are less susceptible to stress and need very little additional care once transplanted.

Strawberry production decreases noticeably in plants older than two years.   The older beds are also difficult to keep weeded, so it’s been easiest for me to just to rip out the oldest bed, save some new plants for transplanting and compost all the weeds and old plants.

Last year I never got around to starting a new bed.  I had ripped out an older bed with the intent of transplanting, but just never finished the job.   So I came into this spring with a two year old bed and a three year old bed.  I prepped two new beds to get back into the rotation I want.  I’ll be out of kilter for a year, but this transplanting went smoothly, and I should be on track going forward.

Old Strawberry Beds

Old Strawberry Beds

The three year old bed the I’ve been tearing up is on the right and a two year old bed to the left.  Strawberries are constantly putting out runners so there is never a shortage of new material to work with.  The paths, filled in with runners, are a great source of babies for transplanting.

A Broadfork Lifts Out Plants Easily

A Broadfork Lifts Out Plants Easily

Strawberries are tough.  You can walk on them, weed them aggressively, and pretty much beat them up without them dying or even showing much stress.  They do need a lot of water to do their best however,  especially when they are setting fruit.  I use my broadfork to lift out and loosen large sections of berries and weeds together.  Then  I use my CobraHead Weeder to separate the plants.

New and Old Strawberry Plants

New and Old Strawberry Plants

It’s very easy to decide which plant to keep and which to toss out.  Old plants  have a woody root structure.  New plants produced by runners will have only root and no sign of a woody core.  If in doubt, I just toss that plant, as I have so many new ones to work with.

Transplanting is merely a matter of pushing the young plants into their new home and watering them in.  They suffer very little transplant shock.  The picture at the top of the post shows the new beds with the plants watered in.   In past years I’ve spaced new plants about 18 inches apart and let runners fill in the gaps, but being behind this year, I’ve loaded up the beds with new plants, spacing them about six inches apart.  I’ve worked in a lot of compost and I’ll  feed them more as the year progresses, so I think we’ll have a great crop next year.

Happy Transplanted Strawberries

Happy Transplanted Strawberries

This picture, taken one day after transplanting and after a soaking rain, shows how quickly the strawberries have rebounded.  Strawberries are easy to grow because they reproduce so aggressively and don’t need much care.  Once started, you never have to buy new plants.  And if you didn’t already know this, the strawberries you grow at home taste way better than those sold in grocery stores.


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10 Responses to “Transplanting Strawberries”

  1. I am a newbie gardener on the fruit and veggie side so I really appreciated your information.

  2. Thank you for the strawberry ingo. This year my strawberries were very small. So I think I will rip them out and start with new plants. Should I get plants in the Fall or Spring?

  3. Noel says:

    You can rip them out out and start all over or just transplant the new baby plants from what you already have. There are two schools of thought on the best time to do that. I like spring because the ground is usually very wet and the transplants have an excellent chance of succeeding. But overall yield is sacrificed the first year. Fall planting gives the plants a longer time to mature and set more fruit. But around here, it is usually drier in fall so more watering is needed and you have to make sure you protect the new plants from freezing. Both spring and fall planting are common.

  4. Paul Stokes says:

    Where can I find a Broadfork? Tks, Paul

  5. Noel says:

    We sell a good one on our website store. Suggest you search “broadforks”, but I love the one we sell.

  6. Dakota says:

    I live north of Seattle. We have a lot of rain in the fall, winter and spring. We have a mild temperature year around. I have a bed of one year old strawberry plants that I cut all the blooms off of last year. I need to move them to a new bed. Can I move them in February or should I wait? When I move them, will I get a good crop or will the crop be poor? I have a row crop cover over the bed. That will keep them from getting cold and dry from the driving rain. I will take the cover off on good days. They will get plenty of sunshine. My theory is that if I move them on in February, will be well established by spring and produce a nice crop. But I am only guessing.

  7. Noel says:

    Most references suggest strawberries be transplanted in the fall for maximum yields, but it also frequently done in early spring. It’s always been early spring for me. That’s because I don’t have time to do it in the fall. My yields may suffer a little, but the timing just works better for me, and in the spring our soil is usually so wet the berry plants suffer very little transplant shock and I don’t have to water much, if at all. Your weather is totally different from ours here in Wisconsin, but I’m guessing you’ll do fine with a February transplanting.

  8. Dakota says:

    Thank you for the advise. I will let you know about the results.

  9. Anna says:

    I want to re-locate my strawberry bed. I have a 3 year old bed that produces ok, but it is dwindling. Is it possible top transplant these old plants or should I start over with their babies and just rip out all the old, 3 year plants? And, should 3 year old plants always be ripped out and start with new babies? Thanks.

  10. Noel says:

    Don’t re-plant the old plants. They will not yield well. Just use the babies. Three years is about the limit for decent production. Old plants are not worth saving or re-planting.