01 May 2015

Strawberry Begonias Blooming Late April zone 7

Saxifraga stolonifera
Strawberry Begonia flowers
As shade perennials go, Strawberry Begonias are hard to beat in our area. Just plant a few and within a couple of years you'll have a lovely, easy-care ground cover for under a tree.

The photo is in our back garden under an oak tree where six plants became a ground-cover 3 feet deep and 6 feet wide in two years.

Saxifraga stolonifera, whose native range includes China, Japan and South Korea, is not a strawberry, nor is it a begonia. Sometimes it's called Strawberry Geranium, too.

It's cold hardy only in zones 6 to 9 and thrives in full to part-shade. And, it is not bothered by insects or disease.

The name Saxifrage comes from saxum (rock) and frangere (break) to illustrate the plant's ability to scramble over rocks. Stolonifera refers to the fact that the plant spreads by stolons, creating plantlets everywhere they trail.

In colder zones than ours, they are grown as houseplants in hanging planters where the plantlets are allowed to hang over the edge of the pot.

Plant Delights Nursery offers them for sale if you'd like to get them growing in containers or under a tree at your home. Their explanation of the name is slightly different, "The name saxifraga comes from the Latin for "stone-breaker" as certain species live on rocks and send their roots down into the fissures, causing them to crack open even more. The genus saxifraga is a close cousin to other ornamental perennials including mukdenia, boykinia, bergenia, and astilboides. The Japanese eat the leaves of Saxifraga stolonifera, fresh or cooked."

Now you're hungry to have some, aren't you? If you are in Muskogee, I'll share some plantlets with you.

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