Strawberry begonia or Saxifraga stolonifera [saks-if-FRAG-uh sto-lo-NIF-er-uh] is a decorative plant that thrives in any home and potentially any climate.
The name “stolonifera” means bearing runners. The long, hanging stems produce a handful of runners to propagate and grow new plants.
Other common names include:
- Roving sailor
- Aaron’s beard
- Mother of thousands – different that the mother of thousands Kalanchoe
- Creeping saxifrage
- Strawberry saxifrage
- Strawberry geranium
Despite some of these common names, the plant is not a geranium, begonia, or strawberry. It belongs to the Saxifragaceae family.
It was previously believed to be native to Western Europe where it’s widespread. Instead of Europe, it’s native to Korea, China, and Japan, where it is used for cooking.
Strawberry Begonia Care Tips
Size and Growth
This small plant grows a cluster of dark, rounded, decorative, “hairy” leaves. The stalks red while the veins often feature silver patterns.
These leaves start to spill out of the pot along with a series of runners, which are often called babies.
Flowering and Fragrance
While the plant itself doesn’t get very big, the flower stem growing from the center may reach up to 10″ inches.
The branches or stem produces small white flowers that appear in the summer months. The stem features an inflorescence of with between 7 to 60 flowers.
However, plants do not always flower, especially if the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight throughout the year.
Luckily, the plant is still a decorative addition to any room even without flowers.
Light and Temperature
The plant is recommended for USDA hardiness zone 6-9, allowing it to survive colder temperatures. Mulch during winter. It needs lots of bright indirect light, but no direct sunlight.
In the summer, the strawberry begonia prefers temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter, temperatures should stay between 40 degrees and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your home is too warm during the winter, consider setting it on a covered porch for the rest of the season.
Watering and Feeding
Water the plant regularly throughout the summer. Fertilize every two weeks during the warmer months.
In the winter, limit the watering and don’t feed. The soil can dry out a little bit between watering.
When watering, avoid soaking the leaves. Pour the water on the soil, not the plant.
Excess water on the leaves may scorch the plant when placed in an area where the plant receives bright sunlight.
Soil and Transplanting
The strawberry geranium grows well in regular potting soil with good drainage.
Adding a little peat to the soil helps to improve the drainage.
These plants typically only live for a few years, making transplanting unnecessary in most cases. The only time it needs transplanting is if it outgrows its current pot.
Remove the runners each year, or they will wither. Remove the withered offsets and any dead leaves to encourage new growth.
How To Propagate Creeping Saxifraga
The strawberry begonia may only survive for a few years, making propagation a necessary step to continue enjoying this charming plant.
Luckily, propagating the plant does not require a lot of work. Simply follow these steps:
- Select the healthiest runners from the plant
- Place the runners in individual pots with sandy soil
- Cover the pots with plastic bags and cut holes for ventilation
- Place the pot in a bright, sunny location NO DIRECT LIGHT
After the runners take root and start growing, remove the plastic bag and water regularly through the summer.
By the following spring season, the young plants should be ready for transplanting to larger pots.
What Pests or Disease Problems Does Strawberry Begonia Encounter?
Root rot is a common concern for the strawberry geranium. When watering, don’t add too much water. The water shouldn’t create puddles in the soil.
If the soil isn’t draining well, try adding more peat to the soil. Adding extra drainage holes in the bottom also helps reduce the risk of rot.
Aphids and whiteflies may attack the plant. A small aphid infestation is typically treatable with sprays of cold water.
For severe infestations or whitefly attacks, use insecticide.
The plant is not toxic to humans or animals. The thick leaves were used in herbal remedies in ancient Japanese medicine.
They are also occasionally eaten either fresh or cooked.
Suggested Saxifraga Stolonifera Uses
The strawberry geranium is a compact little plant with longer runners. It looks best in a hanging basket or placed on a shelf as a house plant, allowing the runners to dangle from the pot.
When grown outdoors, the plant is often used for ground cover, thanks to the creeping foliage and runners.
Just remember that these runners may take root, allowing the plant to continue spreading throughout the garden.