The Strawberry bush is a native shrub that has dark green leaves and colorful fruits. It is a multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 4-6’ tall. It is native to wooded slopes, moist understory forest areas, low sandy woods, ravines and streambanks from New York south to Florida and west through Pennsylvania to Illinois and eastern Texas. This shrub is somewhat sprawling when young, but becomes more erect as it matures. It features green stems, medium green leaves with fine marginal teeth, 5-petaled greenish-yellow flowers from the leaf axils in May-June and crimson red fall fruits purportedly resembling strawberries hence the common name of strawberry bush. Thin spreading branches are clad with oblong to elliptic leaves (to 3” long) with crenulate margins, narrow to rounded bases and sharply pointed tips. Each leaf has 5-7 pairs of ascending veins which disappear prior to reaching the margins. Leaves turn dark orange-red in fall. Although the flowers are not showy, they are followed in fall by extremely showy, crimson red fruits (to 3/4” diameter). Each fruit is a 5-lobed capsule which splits open when ripe (hence the sometimes used common name of hearts a bursting). Easily grown in moist, rich, well-drained soils in part shade. Best with some afternoon shade. Thrives in sun-dappled conditions. Tolerant of close to full shade. Hardy in zones 6-9.
Growing Instructions for the Strawberry Bush
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 3-4 months. 2. Fill a pot with potting soil. 3. Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. 4. Water the container. 5. Put the pot in a warm, sunny area. 6. Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. 7. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.