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Bergenia

Bergenia

Bergenia is an easy-to-grow clump-forming perennial primarily grown as ground cover or as edging for walkways. This plant’s foliage appears as large rosettes of glossy, leathery, gently toothed dark-green leaves that are heart-shape at the base. When you rub these large leaves together, they sound like of a squeaking pig—hence the common name “pig squeak.” Deep-pink flowers are borne from April to May. The 10x8-inch leaves are often used in floral arrangements.

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Light:

Part Sun, Shade

Type:

Height:

From 6 inches to 3 feet

Width:

From 12 to 18 inches

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

3-8

Propagation

Colorful Combinations

Fall's cooler nights prompt bergenia's foliage to take on a striking purple-bronze color. During winter, the evergreen foliage becomes more intensely burgundy, and in milder winters can look good year 'round. In April small dark-pink flowers bloom on the plant in dense loose branching clusters (panicles) on thick stems.

Try more underused perennials in your garden.

Bergenia Care Must-Knows

Bergenia tolerates a wide range of lighting conditions, but part shade to full shade suit it best. Although this evergreen perennial grows well in average, well-drained soil, moist humus-rich soil provides maximum growth and bloom power. Once established, bergenia is drought-tolerant, but appreciates supplemental watering during extended dry spells. Bergenia is usually problem- and pest-free, but keep an eye out for slug damage. 

This perennial is considered evergreen in the South, while in more northern states it may suffer winter damage. Protect this plant in from strong, cold winter winds to prevent its evergreen leaves from losing moisture (desiccating). Remove any damaged foliage and spent flowering stems in late winter or early spring, but leave living foliage alone.

Since this plant grows slowly via creeping rhizomes, division is not often needed. You may want to divide them every 3-5 years, though, to help them regain vitality. If a plant begins to die out in the center, it's time to divide.

See more of the best fall flowers for the Mountain West and High Plains.

More Varieties of Bergenia

'Apple Blossom' bergenia

Bergenia cordifolia 'Apple Blossom' features large pale pink flowers on red stems that rise above glossy green leaves.

'Bressingham White' bergenia

Bergenia cordifolia 'Bressingham White' has flowers that open pink but age to white. Fall foliage is burgundy.

'Winterglut' bergenia

Bergenia cordifolia 'Winterglut' has reddish-pink flowers in spring and dark green leaves that turn rich mottled red and orange in fall.

Plant Bergenia With:

Perennial geranium
One of the longest bloomers in the garden, hardy geranium bears little flowers for months at a time. It produces jewel-tone, saucer-shape flowers and mounds of handsome, lobed foliage. It needs full sun, but otherwise it is a tough and reliable plant, thriving in a wide assortment of soils. Many of the best are hybrids. Perennial geraniums may form large colonies.
Lady's mantle
Lady's mantle looks great in the garden and in a vase. Its scalloped leaves catch rain or drewdrops, making them look dusted with jewels. The chartreuse flowers appear in playful, frothy clusters above the foliage. Lady's mantle is ideal for softening the edge of a shaded path or creating a groundcover in dappled shade.
Lungwort
In early spring, the brilliant blue, pink, or white flowers of lungwort bloom despite the coldest chill. The rough basal leaves, spotted or plain, always please and continue to be handsome through the season and into winter. Planted close as a weed-discouraging groundcover, or in borders as edgings or bright accent plants, lungworts are workhorses and retain their good looks. Provide high-humus soil that retains moisture. Although lungwort tolerates dry conditions, be alert for mildew.
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