Strawberry begonias are eye-catching plants native to Asia. As they mature, the plants send out long, thin runners that end in clusters of rounded leaves. When grown indoors and allowed to hang over a sill or edge, they form a very interesting display of hairy, red-hued leaves. You can even let the leaf runners scatter on the floor, similar to the outdoor gardeners who use them as ground cover. They will happily form a clump of plantlets at the base of the container. Over time, as the runners multiply and begin to look a little cluttered, you can easily take cuttings to start new plants and give them to your friends or use them to start new plants.
Strawberry begonias can be planted and cared for indoors during any time of the year and will grow rapidly, allowing you to enjoy their beautiful foliage quite quickly. With the right conditions, the plant may even bloom in the spring, but their flowers are rather inconsequential.
|Botanical Name||Saxifraga stolonifera|
|Common Name||Strawberry begonia, creeping saxifrage, strawberry geranium|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||6–18 in. tall, 12–24 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Soil pH||Neutral to acidic|
|Bloom Time||Late spring, early summer|
|Hardiness Zones||6–9 (USDA)|
Watch Now: How to Grow Strawberry Begonia Indoors
Strawberry Begonia Care
Strawberry begonia plants are very easy to grow and care for, making them rewarding for amateur houseplant parents. They dislike too much humidity and warmth, which can encourage fungal problems, and are susceptible to root rot if they are watered too heavily. They are also more cold tolerant than people often assume and are able to withstand temperatures down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit and still recover. For best results, it's important to faithfully repot your plant every spring as they also don't like being pot-bound and will not grow to look their best. Keep in mind, growth may stall or even stop during the wintertime.
Strawberry begonia plants prefer bright—but not direct—sunlight. Typically, an east- or west-facing window is perfect. Be careful of letting your plant get any direct rays of sunlight—they can burn the plant and put holes in its leaves.
Strawberry begonia plants prefer to be housed in lightweight, fast-draining potting soil. It should be moist, but not stay waterlogged.
These plants are fast growers and like a lot of water during their growing season. As with other hairy-leaved plants, avoid getting water on your strawberry begonia's leaves to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Water your plant once the top two or three inches of the soil have dried out, and saturate the plant until water runs from the drainage holes in the base. During winter, reduce your watering cadence, but don't let your plant dry out completely.
Temperature and Humidity
Strawberry begonia plants prefer to be cool rather than hot; in order for your plant to thrive, aim to keep its surrounding environment between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Your plant will not thrive if it's hot, so be sure to move your begonia to a cooler space. When it comes to humidity, strawberry begonia plants can thrive in moderate to high humidity, but will not need most average levels increased in the home.
Feed weekly during the growing season with a weak liquid fertilizer that includes micronutrients and encourages blooming. Controlled release fertilizer pellets are also excellent.
Strawberry Begonia Varieties
The strawberry begonia is the most common of the saxifraga. The 'Tricolor' variety is slightly smaller and has a creamy halo around the leaf margins. They're a bit more difficult to grow and require more careful attention to watering and temperature. Although both these varietals are similar in appearance to begonia, they are not actually begonias.
Propagating Strawberry Begonia
Strawberry begonia plants are very easy plants to propagate with its offsets. To propagate, gently push the plantlets/offsets into soil, either in the same pot as the mother plant or in a nearby small pot (leaving them attached to the main plant), and wait a few weeks. The plantlets will quickly develop roots of their own. Once they have their own roots, snip the runner to the mother plant, and you'll have a clone ready to go.
Potting and Repotting Strawberry Begonia
These are fast-growing plants that will rapidly fill up their original containers. To keep up with your strawberry begonia's rapid growth, repot your plant every spring into a larger pot. Over time, however, your mother plant will likely begin looking a bit bare in the center or develop woody stems. If this happens, just propagate the mother plant from its plantlets and replace it.
Common Pests and Diseases
As with many fleshy plants, strawberry begonia plants are susceptible to mealybugs and aphids. If you spot the signs of an infestation, treat the issue as early as possible by removing the diseased foliage and treating it with an insecticide.