How to Care for Strawberry Begonias

Strawberry begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) gets its name because it spreads with runners — or stolons, as the species name suggests — to create new plants, like strawberry crops. Also known as strawberry geranium, creeping saxifrage and mother-of-thousands, strawberry begonia thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9 and is commonly grown as a houseplant in colder climates. Grown outside as a ground cover, strawberry begonia grows gradually with an average height and spread of 1 foot. The plants show white asymmetrical flowers in late spring to early summer and provide evergreen foliage through the winter.

Plant strawberry begonias at an area which receives partial shade to full shade. They function well as a ground cover at border plantings, shaded rock gardens and woodland gardens. The space should have ample, well-drained soil. You may incorporate 4 inches of organic humus fabric with a rototiller, including materials such as compost, leaf mold, grass clippings, manure and sphagnum peat to enhance the structure of clay soils, if necessary.

Water the plants to keep medium moisture, allowing the top 1/2 inch of soil to dry between deep waterings.

Fertilize the plant with organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion or blood and bone function, implemented as a side dressing around crops, if wanted. You could also add compost into the soil around plants to restore nutrients into the soil or utilize complete fertilizers, such as 10-10-10, conservatively to avoid cutting back the plants.

Spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch material, such as shredded bark or humus, around the plants to help retain moisture in the soil. Do not push the mulch directly against plant stems.

Remove runners in the plant to prevent them from taking root and spreading into unwanted regions of the garden. If you would like the strawberry begonia to take over a flower bed, then it is possible to instead plant the runners so that they take root. These slow-growing plants do not need pruning except to remove dead plant material.

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