Saxifraga stolonifera
Common Name: creeping saxifrage
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Saxifragaceae
Native Range: China, Japan, South Korea
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

This plant is not reliably winter hardy to the St. Louis area. If grown outdoors as a ground cover, it should be sited in a protected location and mulched in winter. Where winter hardy, it should be planted in moist, organically rich, light, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Indoors, plants should be sited in bright indirect light, although some direct sun (if not intense) will promote the best reddish leaf colors. Easily propagated by rooting plantlets in soil.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Saxifraga stolonifera is commonly called strawberry begonia or strawberry geranium as plants spread by strawberry-like runners and have begonia/geranium-like leaves. It is, however, neither a begonia nor a geranium. It is an evergreen, stoloniferous, mat-forming perennial of the saxifrage family that is native to rocky cliff areas in China and Japan. It is classified in the irregulars (diptera) section of the genus. If grown in the garden, it should be sited in a shady area. Plants form rosettes of long-stalked leaves that will typically rise to 8” tall and spread somewhat rapidly by thin, thread-like stolons to 24” wide. Rounded, dark green leaves (to 4” wide) have silver veining on top and pink-red undersides. From late spring to early summer, flower stems rise well-above the foliage to 18” tall bearing loose, airy panicles of asymmetrical white flowers (1” wide), each flower having two large lower petals and 3-4 smaller upper petals.

Another common name for this plant is mother of thousands in reference to the plantlets that form at the stolon tips.

Genus name comes from the Latin words saxum meaning rock and frangere meaning to break in reference to habit of some Saxifrage plants to take up residence in the fissures of rocks resulting over time in a further eroding or crumbling (breaking away) of the rock.

Specific epithet means having stolons.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot may occur in poorly drained soils. Aphids, slugs and spider mites may appear.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, this plant forms an excellent ground cover for shady areas. Mass in shade or woodland gardens. Also may be planted near streams, ponds or fountains. Where not winter hardy, grow in containers or hanging baskets. Plants may also be grown indoors in windows or hanging baskets as houseplants (baby plantlets that form at the ends of the thin drooping stolons are ornamentally attractive).