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Fragaria

Rosaceae
Evergreen, Perennials

The plants described here are grown for their ornamental qualities, although Fragaria vesca also produces delectable berries. Grow in well-drained soil. For strawberries grown strictly for their edible fruit, see Strawberry.

Fragaria chiloensis (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Fragaria chiloensis (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Fragaria chiloensis

Native to Pacific beaches and bluffs and North and South America. A parent of the market strawberry (see Strawberry), this forms a lush, compact mat 4–8 in. high. Glossy dark green leaves have three tooth-edged leaflets and take on red tones in winter. White, 1-in. flowers appear in spring, occasionally followed by a few bright red, seedy, 3/4-in. fruits in summer.

For use as a groundcover, set out nursery-grown plants 1–1 1/2 ft. apart. Mow or cut back annually in early spring to force new growth and prevent stem buildup.

Fragaria vesca

Both alpine and musk strawberries are species that grow in the shade and produce small, distinctively flavored berries favored by connoisseurs.

Alpine strawberries. Also called fraise de bois, these European natives bear a small crop of tiny but fragrant, intensely delicious berries over a long summer season, but they have a shelf life that is measured in minutes or hours (which is why you rarely find them at produce markets). These are often grown as edgings for flower or herb beds (space plants 8–12 in. apart). You can get selections with red, white, or yellow-colored fruit. They don’t produce runners but may be grown from seed; bear the first year from seed sown early.

Musk strawberries. These shade-tolerant, June-bearing varieties from Italy are renowned for their intense aroma and flavor with hints of raspberry and pineapple. They’re much more cold-tolerant than alpine strawberries; you can even grow them in Alaska and Canada. ‘Profumata di Tortona’ and ‘Capron’ are popular.

Fragaria ‘Pink Panda’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Fragaria ‘Pink Panda’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Fragaria ‘Pink Panda’

Resulting from a cross between Fragaria and Potentilla, this low-growing perennial groundcover is similar to F. chiloensis in general appearance but bears pink flowers from spring to autumn. Use in borders, edgings, or rock gardens. Produces a small number of fruits.

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