What Are Stolons ?

what are stolons

What Are Stolons?

what are stolons


What are stolons? Stolons are a type of stem (5) that plants usually grow at the base of the main stem (2). These are creeping stems (6) that develop on the surface of the soil or even below it (8). Creeping stems with short internodes are called runners, and those with long internodes are called stolons (3). Two examples of plants that spread with stolons are strawberries (4) and mint (1). Plants that spread through stolons exist in many regions (7).

Runners are stolons which are located on the ground. A rhizome is also, in short, a stolon, however running underground. The plants that base their propagation strategy on stolons are named stoloniferous.

Runners are stolons which are located on the ground. A rhizome is also, in short, a stolon, however running underground. The plants that base their propagation strategy on stolons are named stoloniferous.

There are many plants that have stolons. They are weaker stems that are dragging on the earth and at the same time, they are developing new roots with which they will produce new plants.

Two well-known examples of two plants that spread by stolons are strawberry and mint. The strawberry has small stems that are dragged along the soil and, in turn, are generating other roots for the growth of new plants.

The stolons are buds that appear in the lower part of the stem of some herbaceous plants and that develop perpendicular to this, on the ground level or under it.

They have knots or buds that have the ability to emit new leaves and roots.

And we continue with the description of what are stolons. They appear in some plants such as strawberry or clover and they suppose a form of vegetative multiplication, that is to say, they give rise to new plants that when they take root in the ground, they separate from the mother plant, disappearing the stolon that united them.

Stolons are stems of horizontal growth that always start from the main stem and that many plants produce. They always grow very close to the ground, either below it, which are the so-called underground stolons, or on the surface of this, which are the epigeous stolons, sometimes called crawlers or runners, and contain embryonic cells that allow them to take root and produce new plants that, if separated from the main one, will be completely independent.

The species that are reproduced with stolons are known as stoloniferous, as we already explained above. We have several examples of stoloniferous species.

What are stolons for?



Like all parts of a plant, stolons fulfill their own function that is to make reproduction possible without the intervention of seeds. The stolons have several sections and are divided into parts. In each of the sections of the stolon is where the development of new plants is taking place. The stolons are those that make vegetative reproduction possible. This is a type of reproduction in which the seeds do not intervene.

Therefore, the function of the stolons is to get the plant to reproduce and spread across the surface available. The longer the stolon, the more sections it will have, and consequently, the more it can be reproduced.

Stolons are a type of stem that plants have and are usually born at the base of the main stems. These stems are creeping that usually develop on the surface of the soil and even below it. They are weak stems that are dragging through the earth and are generating new roots with which they will produce new plants. The most common example is strawberry and mint. As for the strawberry, this has some small stems that are dragged along the earth, which in turn are generating other roots for the growth of new plants.

When the stolons begin to sprout from the plant, the matrix shrub is nurtured as it develops, achieving more independence. In certain areas they are called runner plants, this is thanks to their ability to monopolize the land. This can be a great advantage if it is carried in the right way.

However, if the main plant contracts pests or diseases, the stolons may be affected as well. The suggestion is to plant several specimens of the same species to diminish the risk in the case that diseases can appear.


we have already studied above what are stolons. Now we will investigate their function related to the propagation of the plant. The strategy of propagation through stolons is one of the most effective reproduction strategies that exist in nature.

As a means of asexual reproduction they are, the function of the stolons is to extend the ground that covers the plant to reach a greater number of nutrients and colonize a larger surface. This resource is used by many plants that inhabit areas or environments in which they face unfavorable or hostile characteristics, such as aridity, excess moisture, or high salinity.

Thanks to the fact that the newly rooted plant is still connected to the mother plant through the stem, it can receive nutrients and water from it until it becomes strong enough to stand on its own. This means that plants that reproduce by stolons are usually very resistant and can overcome conditions that are fatal for other species.

Since a stolen can produce more stolons, in turn, these plants can reach huge amounts of land and even become a pest if they are in favorable conditions, so when planting plants of this type in natural areas should always be very careful not to end up altering the balance of the local flora.

what are stolons

Stolon Examples: Example Of Plants That Reproduce By Stolons

There are a lot of plants that reproduce by stolons, some of them well known to most of us. Let’s see some of his most characteristic examples:

Strawberry Stolons ( Fragaria vesca )

These sweet and acidic fruits, so popular around the world, are perhaps the most popular example of reproduction by stolons since this is also the simplest and easiest way to reproduce strawberries in gardens and orchards.

Menta Stolons ( Mentha )

This kind of aromatic plants, very used in gardening for its aromatic and culinary value, are also a very good example of a plant that reproduces by stolons.

It is common to cut the stolons of a certain length to submerge them in water until they produce roots and then plant them as if they were a cutting.

Spider Plant Stolons ( Chlorophytum comosum )

The spider plant (read my article about the spider plant care) is one of the best examples to understand what are stolons and how this reproduction strategy behaves.

The spider plant is very cultivated in gardens for its ornamental value, which is reproduced throughout the year by stolons, giving rise naturally to dense massifs and in continuous expansion.

Clover Stolons ( Trifolium repens )

The iconic plant of Ireland, famous for its attributed ability to bring luck to those who find four-leaf clovers, is also another species that propagate through the strategy of reproduction by stolons.

In fact, it is thanks to this ability to spread like a carpet, that they are able to cover large areas of land in a short time.

plants with stolons

Difference Between Rhizomes And Stolons

The rhizomes and stolons perform very similar functions in plants since both are cases of asexual vegetative reproduction. The main difference between them, however, is that while the stolons develop almost always above the ground and very close to the ground, the rhizomes are always underground stems, also of horizontal growth, which produce roots and buds in their different knots.

The rhizomes never stop growing, renewing themselves over time as their oldest parts die, but still producing new ones. Another distinctive feature between rhizomes and stolons is that the former is always thick and short, while the latter is thin and long.

Reproduction by stolons is a differential propagation strategy that does not involve the utilization of seeds.

Despite having less resistance than ordinary stems, stolons have a specific “job” so to call it. When divided by segments, they allow each new flora to flourish from each segment. In such a way, they allow the multiplication of the central plant without requiring the use of the seeds. Therefore, it is understandable that botanists qualified this type of reproduction as “vegetative”.

The stolons promote the reproduction of the plant and cause it to expand on the ground. The fecundity of the stolons is closely linked to the length they manage to develop. The longer they are, the more sections they will have and the more likely they will offer new shoots . Diversity of water species and even grass are multiplied by them.

When the stolons begin to sprout from the central plant they have a similar dependency to the fetus with the mother. That is, they nourish themselves on the matrix shrub. 

As they develop, they gain more and more independence. This process becomes noticeable when the creeping stem produces stolons in turn. The setback arises when by such dissemination is “asphyxiation” to the rest of species in the field because the varieties that multiply under these conditions can become an invasive genus.

They actually monopolize the available surface so this propagation strategy is very successful. Of course, depending on the objective of the gardener or horticulturist, it can be an advantage or a threat.

If the central plant contracts diseases or pests, the stolons will also be harmed. Considering this risk, the suggestion is to plant different specimens of the same species to keep out of danger some stem, as we also explained briefly in this article.

The Example Of Strawberry Stolons

Each time we have to explain what are stolon, the example of strawberry stolons comes always in our minds.

When it comes to becoming familiar with the vegetative reproduction that involves the stolons, undoubtedly the cultivation of strawberries is the best example.

If the strawberry is grown to be placed in the market, there are certain considerations to take into account. The reproduction of stolons, although very effective, eventually reduces the fertile qualities of each offset plant. Because of this, it will require constant supervision and consideration of this attribute of the marginal decrease in the fertility ratio.

Only in this way will the fertility of each of the new shoots be guaranteed. It is common that in botany, as in everyday life, it is worth adding creativity to obtain good results.

If you have little space for growing strawberries, for example, you can take advantage of the aerial role of the stolons. The altitude of the place will become an advantage to give freedom to the stems.

What is convenient in this situation is that the central plant is placed in a high place so that the stolons are dispersed, with the help of PVC pipes cut in equal parts. Then they are filled with the fertilizer required by the strawberries.

As the new stolons arise, they are “chained” to compact containers so that they remain attached to the pipes. A very useful tactic to prevent blizzards from affecting stolons is to protect them with the nets used in poultry houses.

As a container, a wide variety of containers can be used, such as old jars, pots, large bottles, etc. Any of these options will be equally effective.

Despite having less resistance than ordinary stems, stolons do a good job as they are a very effective strategy of propagation of strawberries. Also for strawberries, the stolons are divided by sections or segments, which will allow each section to produce the development of new strawberry plants. In such a way that it will generate the multiplication of the central plant.

So as a conclusions, what are stolons in strawberries and which is their function. Stolons are horizontal linking among organisms. In plants, these are stems that grow at the soil surface or just below, and are also known as runner. We can see these in weeds, strawberries,  grasses, lily of the valley and others and it is a propagation strategy allowing plants to spread out from one main plant and survive during times that are not so advantageous until the next season.

A stolon sprouts from an existing stem. A rhizome is a root-like stem, which is the main stem,  that can grow horizontally or other directions underground. A rhizome is the stem of a plant underground that sends out roots and shoots from its nodes.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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