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How to Grow Strawberry Begonia — Saxifraga

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Saxifraga is a low-growing colorful trailing plant well-suited for containers and hanging baskets. They can be grown as perennials outdoors where there is little frost.

Saxifraga produces basal leaves. Leaves vary greatly in shape; there are about 440 species. Saxifraga stolonifera is a popular houseplant commonly known as strawberry begonia or strawberry geranium. It has round leaves that are silver-veined, dark green above and pinkish-purple underneath.

Saxifraga grows best where summer heat and humidity are not intense. Some are grown year-round as houseplants. Saxifraga requires good drainage and grows best in light soils. They rot easily in soggy soil. Outdoors Saxifraga is often used in rock gardens.

Get to know Saxifraga

  • Plant type: Perennial creeping plant
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 6-9
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Optimal temperature: Cool conditions, around 50°-60°F (10°-16°C); can take temperatures to 72°F(27°C)
  • Light: Medium-light
  • Height and width: 5 to 9 inches (12-23cm) tall and wide
  • Foliage: round leaves are silver-veined, dark green above, and pinkish-purple underneath grow from rosettes to about 4 inches (10cm) tall; thread-like stalks reminiscent of strawberry plant runners
  • Flowers: Clusters of small, white flowers on 9-inch (27cm) stalks
  • Uses: Houseplant, grow outdoors as a groundcover
  • Common name: Strawberry begonia, strawberry geranium, mother-of-thousands
  • Botanical name: Saxifraga stolonifera
  • Family: Saxifragaceae
  • Origin: North America and Europe

Where to plant

  • Grow Saxifraga in medium light; avoid direct hot sunlight.
  • Grow Saxifraga in humus-rich, well-drained soil or indoors in an all-purpose mix with added compost.
Strawberry geranium or strawberry begonia, Saxifraga stolonifera

How to water and feed Saxifraga

  • Saxifraga needs abundant water; keep the soil evenly moist from spring through fall. Let the soil surface dry between waterings in winter.
  • Fertilize Saxifraga monthly from spring to fall. Use an all-purpose fertilizer.

Saxifraga care

  • Plants tend to get scraggly as they age; repot plantlets in a mix of peat moss.

Growing Saxifraga as a houseplant

  • Saxifraga stolonifera can be grown as a houseplant.
  • Give Saxifraga bright light, average room temperature, and medium humidity.
  • Plant in well-drained, soilless medium.
  • From spring through fall, keep the medium evenly moist; in winter allow it to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Allow the soil to become moderately dry between thorough waterings.
  • Fertilize Saxifraga once a month during spring and summer.

Saxifraga pests and diseases

  • Saxifraga can be attached by aphids, mealybug, and whiteflies.
  • Root rot can occur.
  • Saxifraga is susceptible to salt buildup.

Saxifraga propagation

  • Pot plantlets in a mix of peat moss and sand; repot them into an all-purpose mix when they are rooted.

Saxifraga varieties to grow

  • Saxifraga rosacea: Cushion-forming, spreading plant; narrow fleshy leaves; white flowers; many named varieties and hybrids; cultivar ‘Carnival’ has red flowers that fade to pink then white.
  • S. stolonifera, strawberry begonia, strawberry geranium: House plant; creeping plant that makes runner like strawberries; grows 6 to 9 inches tall; produces runners up to 24 inches long; new plants form at the ends of the runners; round white-veined leaves are pink underneath; white flowers 1-inch across in loose open clusters; can be plants as groundcover outdoors where there are no freezes.
  • S. umbrosa: Rosettes of green, shiny leaves; clusters of pink flowers on wine red stalks; best in small spaces.

Also of interest:

Begonia Types and Care

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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