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Bergenia are one of the tried and true perennials. They are long lived and “tough as nails”. They look fabulous in old established plantings or in new beds. Their large bold leaves offer a thick texture that easily works into just about any design style including containers.
The paddle-shaped, evergreen leaves of this spreading plant are best displayed when in mass. Spring brings the lovely straight stems bearing sprays of flowers ranging from white to ruby pink, to double red. The evergreen leaves of some varieties turn burgundy on the tips in cold weather adding interest to the winter garden. Many wonderful cultivars of this plant have been introduced. A few of our favorites are:
Abdenglut aka “Evening Glow”
Compact plant with medium size leaves that turn bronze in autumn. Flowers are burgundy red and double. Zone 4-8. 18”tall.
15-18” tall plant with light pink flowers. Zone 3-8.
Very med pink flowers above green leaves that age to maroon in winter. Zone 15-18” tall. Photo courtesy of Skagit Gardens.
Very similar to Bressingham Ruby but with flowers that emerge white and age to pink. Leathery Green leaves. Zone 3-9.
A slightly more diminutive version (12-15”) with narrow leaves and pink flowers. Zone 4-9
New growth is colored with wide cream edges that turn shrimp pink in winter. Leaves fade to green. Great container plant. Pink flowers. Tubby Andrews is another variegated cultivar. Zone 4-9. 10” tall. Photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nursery.
Winterglut aka winterglow
Excellent red fall and winter foliage color. Dark magenta flowers in spring and sometimes a second bloom in fall. Zone 3. 12-15” tall.
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Common Name: Pigsqueak, heartleaf, Elephant ears.
Origin: Widely distributed in temperate Asia. There are 8 species in the genus.
Culture: Rich, moist, well-drained soil. Would prefer to be on the dry side rather than wet. Will tolerate a variety of sun to shade conditions.
Leaves tend to look better given a more shady situation and flowers tend to bloom more in a sunnier situation. No matter where you plant it one of the wonderful qualities of this plant will shine.
Maintenance: Low-maintenance, drought tolerant and easy to grow. Bergenias are an excellent companion for hellebores, hostas, primula, brunnera, grasses and ferns.
Bergenia are evergreen but benefit from having sunburned, old or tatty winter foliage cleaned up in the spring or growing season. In the shadiest conditions leaves and flowering may be sparser.
Large clumps can be easily divided by replanting a good section of rhizome.
Pest and Disease: Few problems bother bergenias. Root weevils can occasionally be a problem, evidenced by notch shapes cut out of the edges of the leaves.