Small yellow flowers bloom on this low-growing groundcover in mid-late spring. As it grows, it forms a dense mat of glossy, three-lobed, medium- to dark-green leaves resembling those of common strawberry, but without edible fruit.
An attractive ornamental groundcover, barren strawberry (Geum fragarioides) has only recently become more available at local native plant nurseries. It’s perfect for borders and garden edges, below shrubs or in rock gardens.
Leaves remain over the winter, developing a copper to purplish tinge as temperatures drop. If planted near a driveway, path or other hardscape, they will tolerate occasional light foot traffic, but not regular walking.
These versatile plants prefer part shade, but they will grow in full sun to full shade. Barren strawberry is drought tolerant once established and most reports indicate it will tolerate salt. Choose a dry to moist location and ensure you purchase the true native species: Geum fragarioides or Waldsteinia fragarioides, and not a look-alike (like Siberian barren strawberry, Waldsteinia ternata).
Plant below shrubs such as viburnums, dogwoods or serviceberries. For variety, plant with Pennsylvania sedge, white wood aster, wild geranium, large-flowered bellwort, blue-stemmed goldenrod or any of our native violets. See our Woodland Plants for Landscaping plant list for more ideas.
Space plants 30 to 45 centimetres apart in clay to sandy loam soils. They will fill in to cover gaps. In future years, plants can be divided and transplanted to increase coverage.