Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:39 pm
Saxifrage is a hardy plant that brings life to barren places. In addition, the evergreen plant is bee and insect friendly. Here’s how to plant and care for saxifrage.
Saxifrage is also known by its Latin genus name, Saxifraga. Together with about 450 other species, it forms the saxifrage plant family Saxifragaceae.
Saxifrage probably owes its name to its unusual habitats. It is often found in small crevices or between rocky edges. It almost seems as if it is “breaking up” the rocks at this stele. Moreover, saxifrage is said to have been used in the past in herbal medicine against kidney and gall stones. In doing so, its “stone-breaking” abilities were invoked. In another article you can learn more about our native medicinal plants.
Most of the 450 species of saxifrage are adapted to dry soils. This makes saxifrage a valuable plant in otherwise barren areas. It is a perennial plant and requires little care. This makes the evergreen a popular ornamental plant.
Most saxifrage species have a cushion-like habit. The evergreen leaf rosettes decorate walls, gravel beds or flower pots. During the flowering season, yellow, orange, white or red flowers unfold, depending on the species. These are especially popular with pollinator insects. Flowering time varies from spring to fall, depending on the species.
Saxifrage: location and cultivation
Of the 450 species of saxifrage, most are suitable for the European home garden. An exception is the autumn saxifrage. It comes from China and is therefore not ideally adapted to our climate conditions. Should you choose this species, you must protect the autumn saxifrage well from frost in winter.
Before planting saxifrage, you should always find out about the species-specific needs of your plant. Generally speaking:
an autumn-flowering plant should be planted in April/May
a spring-flowering plant can be planted in the ground in autumn.
The evergreen leaf rosettes look especially beautiful in combination with stones, for example in a rock garden bed, along walls or outside on the terrace. In sheltered places you can also plant saxifrage as ground cover. The location should meet the following conditions:
- semi-shady and warm
- protected from direct sunlight (especially at midday)
- the soil should contain a mixture of sand, lime and humus
- loose, permeable soil
- in the plant pot you can mix the potting soil with some lava granules or gravel
Planting saxifrage: this is how you succeed
To plant saxifrage in your garden, do the following:
- Find a bright spot in your garden, but one that is protected from direct midday sun.
- Dig small holes that are one and a half times the volume of the root ball. Plant the plants about 30 centimeters apart on each side.
- Place the potted plant in the center of the hole.
- Cover the root ball completely with soil up to the lowest pair of leaves.
- Water the saxifrage with a little water.
Tip: If the soil is too moist, add some sand or stone granules. If the soil is very dry, you can improve the cultivation by adding a handful of plant fertilizer to the roots.
Care saxifrage: Here’s how
Saxifrage is a very hardy and perennial plant. Once it grows, you hardly need to care for it. It is rather insensitive to diseases and pests.
Here are some tips on how to care for your saxifrage properly:
- Wintering: European species are hardy and can therefore survive the cold seasons. At the same time, they continue to adorn the garden and patio with their evergreen leaves. To ensure that the saxifrage survives the frost, you can form a protection. To do this, cover the roots and edges of the plant with a light layer of brushwood, leaves or straw.
- Watering: saxifrage is adapted to dry soils. Therefore, you should never keep the soil too moist and avoid waterlogging.
- Flowering time: The flowering time of saxifrage varies from April to autumn, depending on the species. When the flowers have faded, you can cut off the withered stems. If the saxifrage grows too tall, you can trim it after it has finished blooming.
- Propagation: You can propagate saxifrage by dividing the root ball. To do this, you can dig up the saxifrage in spring and divide the root ball into two parts. Cut out the scanty pieces. Plant the plant in a new location following the steps described above. If any runners form, you can cut them off and put them back in the ground elsewhere as well.
- Saxifrage is therefore a very frugal plant. However, you should always pay attention to the species-specific needs when caring for it.
Bee and insect friendliness
Saxifrage is not only a beautiful ornamental plant for home and garden. The herbaceous plant is also attractive for bees and other insects. The plant is among some important forage plants of wild bees. The pollen from the flowers provides bees with an important source of nectar. Other insects also find food and habitat in saxifrage.
You can therefore plant saxifrage well in the garden, where many insects can benefit from the plant. Together with other bee-friendly shrubs and plants, you can create a true insect paradise with your saxifrage.