Saxifrage as a Greek God

Accent plant creating season is upon us. Though it might seem odd to pot up plants in the summer, perennials respond well given a few aftercare precautions. And there’s a great benefit in designing accents in the summer: with foliage you can see what you’re doing. In the early spring an unsprouted mass of roots looks not unlike another unsprouted mass of roots.

Rather than list a bunch of cool accents you can grow, today I’ll share one that’s pretty nifty, it’s limitations, what it looked like when first created, and what it looks like now.

If you’re keen on accents, our 3-hour online course Wild for Accents is on July 10th; you can learn all about accents while munching on popcorn in the cool of your home.

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Strawberry Begonia just after composing on a rock in July, 2020. This isn’t really a begonia but a Saxifrage, Saxifraga stolonifera.


One year later, the Saxifrage has decided it likes life on a rock and has sent out a ridiculous number of flower spikes. Which is a good cautionary tale…if you’re too nice to your Strawberry Begonia it may grow with a vigor reserved for Greek gods. Which is antithetical to shitakusa, a small plant in bonsai display. Given its eye-catching exuberance this species is probably best displayed on its own as a kusamono.


Though a carnival closeup, these flowers tone down at a distance given their small size.

About 440 species of Saxifrage exist worldwide, often colonizing the most severe environments such as alpine and subarctic zones, and at altitudes beyond 10,000 ft / 3,000 m. Some Saxifrage are early succession plants, meaning they are the first to move into an area and start the buildup of soil. They can often be seen growing in bedrock cracks, hence one of their many monikers, rock-breaker.

These more reserved Saxifrage species might be better options for shitakusa:

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  1. Robert B Currey says:

    Thank you Sir! You make life a gift with these posts!

  2. It is always a pleasure to read your posts. Thank you Michael!

  3. Skipp Serrano says:

    Thanks for posts, Michael. Always look forward to your next insight.

  4. Frederik Eichen says:

    Hi Michael! Do you cut these back at winter or do any other kind of maintenance? I seem to get very different sizes of leaves and yellowing and fading in color. But i’ve seen them be beautifully uniform, in color and size. Any tips?

    • crataegus says:

      Hi Frederik, I only cut back the flower stalk. And the old dying leaves. But this particular saxifrage is an evergreen, so, there’s not a lot more to do. As for color, yes, I see that too and am frankly baffled! Maybe another might comment on this-

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