A strawberry begonia is a perennial often grown as a houseplant because of its hardiness and preference to shade. The plant's aesthetic value comes from its round, fuzzy green leaves, though it does grow blossoms as well. With proper care, strawberry begonia's may live several years grown outside in a garden. They are tolerant to cold temperatures, but are most productive in a humid environment.
The strawberry begonia's name is somewhat misleading. This plant neither produces any sort of fruit, nor is it actually a begonia. It is sometimes also referred to as a strawberry geranium, though it does not belong to the family of geraniums either. Other names for strawberry begonias include "mother of thousands," referring to its plentiful foliage, and the two Latin names Saxifraga stolonifera and Saxifraga sarmentosa.
Part of the strawberry begonia's hardiness comes from its ability to withstand cold temperatures. The plant can endure temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit (about -17.7 degrees Celsius) during the winter. Its general preferred temperature is also fairly low; strawberry begonias will thrive in temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (about 4.4 to 15.5 degrees Celsius).
Moderate sunlight is preferable for the strawberry begonia. It may even be grown in fairly deep shade. An overabundance of sunlight can cause its leaves to develop small holes. If moved indoors, however, the plant can still be salvaged.
When kept indoors, the strawberry begonia is often kept in a hanging basket. It is appreciated as a houseplant for its round, dark green leaves, which sport prominent whitish veins. Some varieties of the plant will be completely green, rather than noticeably veined, and some have white around the tips. These leaves give an unusually soft, fuzzy texture as well. The plant also grows small white flowers in late spring or early summer.
As a perennial ground-covering plant, strawberry begonias may also be planted outside in a garden. To qualify as a perennial, a plant must be able to survive for two or more years without being reseeded. When kept outside, the strawberry begonia may live up to 10 years.
It is important to practice proper maintenance of strawberry begonias to ensure their longevity. Excessive watering is cautioned against. It is recommended that soil is kept somewhat damp, but not too wet. The soil's pH may range from neutral to slightly alkaline, but not acidic. Additionally, to maintain strawberry begonias, any yellow dead leaves must be trimmed off, as they will deplete important nutrients from the rest of the plant.