European barren strawberry – planting, care and tips

European barren strawberry (Waldsteinia geoides)
European barren strawberry (Waldsteinia geoides)

The European barren strawberry is regarded by gardeners as a particularly valuable ground cover, as it tolerates both drought and locations with little light. Here you will find planting and care tips for Waldsteinia geoides.

Profile of European barren strawberry:

Scientific name: Waldsteinia geoides

Plant family: rose family (Rosaceae)

Other names: –

Planting time: spring

Flowering period: April to June

Location: partially shaded to shady

Soil quality: stony to loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich, tolerates lime

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: ground cover, embankments, borders, grave planting, group planting, underplanting, area greening, natural garden, park, forest garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5 (-26 °C / -15 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of European barren strawberry

Plant order, origin and occurrence of European barren strawberry

The European barren strawberry (Waldsteinia geoides) is botanically assigned to the rose family (Rosaceae). Their natural range extends over eastern Central Europe, from Bulgaria to the Ukraine. The persistent, undemanding and very long-lived wild species grows in mixed mountain and deciduous forests, on the edges of trees and in clearings.

A number of varieties of barren strawberry are cultivated as a ground cover in gardens, including Waldsteinia fragarioides from North America, Waldsteinia geoides from Europe, Waldsteinia lobata, and Waldsteinia ternata from Eurasia.

Characteristics of European barren strawberry


The common name of the European barren strawberry is explained by the squat and compact growth of the perennial, which, like the entire growth, resembles that of the strawberry. Waldsteinia geoides becomes 15 to 25 centimeters (6 to 10 in) high and just as wide. From short to creeping rhizomes, it slowly forms clumps that grow wide.


The deep green leaves of the Waldsteinia geoides are heart-shaped to kidney-shaped, 5 to 7 parts and basal. The leaf edges are serrated in a striking way.


With its abundant flowering, the European barren strawberry is a real asset to the spring garden. They bloom from April to June. At the end of the leafy stems there are small flowers arranged in loose fascicles. The petals are bright golden yellow in color and, conversely, egg-shaped.


After flowering, Waldsteinia geoides develops small, inconspicuous nuts with a slightly reddish color.

The fruits are not poisonous, but are considered inedible.

Flowers of European barren strawberry
Flowers of European barren strawberry

European barren strawberry – cultivation and care


The European barren strawberry is perfect for partially shaded locations in the garden. But it also feels at home in the light shade, for example under trees.


Good drainage is crucial when choosing a planting site for the Waldsteinia geoides: as much as it tolerates drought, it is just as sensitive to waterlogging. The soil should therefore be absolutely permeable and free from compaction. Ideally, the soil has a high nutrient and humus content and the pH value is in the acidic range. The garden soil should only be moderately moist and rather dry to fresh.


Maintain a distance of 30 centimeters (12 in) with extensive planting. There are around eleven golden strawberries per square meter (10 sq ft.). Since Waldsteinia geoides does not develop any runners, there is no risk that it will start to grow in the bed. However, a too close a stand would still limit their growth.

Care / Watering / Fertilization / Pruning

Waldsteinia geoides does not need a prune, nor does the perennial have to be watered. Until a thick carpet has formed, however, it is advisable to regularly remove any weeds that sprout between the golden strawberries. It is later suppressed by the polster. If the European barren strawberry is planted under trees or on the edge of the wood, the leaves that fall down are sufficient to supply nutrients and are left on the plants and rot there. Otherwise, organic fertilizer such as compost, which is applied in a thin layer every two to three years, provides the Waldsteinia geoides with everything it needs.


The common way to propagate Waldsteinia geoides is by dividing the rhizome.

Diseases and pests

The European barren strawberry has neither problems with disease nor pest. Even snails usually avoid the perennial.


The European barren strawberry is hardy down to -26 °C / -15 °F.

Use in the garden

The European barren strawberry is a valuable design element for gardeners. Due to its robustness and the modest location requirements, the ground cover is ideal for planting partially shaded areas or underplanting woody plants. Even root pressure or competitive planting partners are no problem for the perennial. Since Waldsteinia geoides basically does not require any care and is extremely durable, it is also often found in public green spaces, for example in parks or forest gardens.

As a rule, Waldsteinia geoides is planted in a group so that embankments or slopes can be perfectly greened with it. With its early flowering period, it is also an important source of food for bees and other insects, to which it provides easily accessible nectar and pollen with its flowers. This also makes them interesting for the natural garden. Waldsteinia geoides is also highly recommended for easy-care and permanent grave planting.

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