How to Grow Bergenia

Bergenia blossoms
Bergenia blossoms

Bergenia is commonly grown for its glossy decorative foliage and early spring flowers. Leaves are rounded or spoon-shaped and sometimes change to a shade of red and purple in autumn and winter.

Bell-shaped flowers that are pink, mauve, red, or white grow in loose clusters above or among the foliage. Bergenia is hardy, but early blooms can be damaged by frost.

There are about 8 species in the genus; all grow from branching rhizomes that slowly spread into clumps about 12 inches (30cm) wide.

Bergenia crassifolia
Bergenia crassifolia

Get to Know Bergenia

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: 3 to 9 depending on the variety
  • Hardiness: Evergreen except in the coldest regions; early blooms can be damaged by frost
  • Height and width: 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) tall and 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) wide
  • Foliage: Large, glossy green, cabbage-shaped leaves 8 to 12 inches (20-30cm) long and 8 inches wide
  • Flowers: Nodding clusters of small bell or funnel-shaped flowers are white, pink, or rose
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Borders, under trees, woodland garden, groundcover
  • Companion plants: Ferns, hellebores, hostas; plant in front of aucubas, rhododendrons, Japanese aralia
  • Common name: Bergenia
  • Botanical name: Bergenia
  • Family name: Saxifragaceae
  • Origin: Himalayas

Where to Plant Bergenia

  • Plant Bergenia in dappled or partial shade; will take full sun in cool-summer regions where the soil stays moist.
  • Grow Bergenia in humus-rich, well-drained soil; plants can tolerate poor soil.
  • Plant Bergenia where it is sheltered from the wind.
Bergenia cordifolia
Bergenia cordifolia

When to Plant Bergenia

  • Plant container-grown plants from mid-autumn to early spring.

Planting and Spacing Bergenia

  • Space 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) apart depending on the variety.
  • Set container-grown plants in the garden in spring or autumn.

How to Water and Feed Bergenia

  • Bergenia grows best if the soil is kept just moist, not wet, and not dry.
  • Fertilize Bergenia in spring with an all-purpose fertilizer.
 Bergenia ciliata
Bergenia ciliata

Bergenia Care

  • Mulch in autumn where winter weather can turn cold.
  • Protect Bergenia from strong winds.
  • Divide clumps that have died out in the center.

Bergenia Pests and Diseases

  • Leaf spot fungus can cause brown patches on leaves.
  • Bergenia can be prone to attack by weevils, slugs, snails, and caterpillars.

Bergenia Propagation

  • Divide plants in autumn or spring.
  • Take cuttings from rhizomes that have a rosette of foliage attached.
  • Species can be started from seed in a cold frame in spring.
Bergenia cordifolia
Bergenia cordifolia

Bergenia Varieties to Grow

  • Bergenia ciliata: Grows to 12 inches (30cm) tall and wide; light green leaves with smooth edges; white, rose, or purplish flowers bloom late spring and summer.
  • B. cordifolia, heartleaf Bergenia: Glossy, heart-shaped leaves; rose or lilac flowers in pendulous clusters in spring.
  • B. crassifolia, winter-blooming Bergenia: Dark green leaves 8 inches across; flowers are rose, lilac, or purple in dense clusters on erect stems; plants grow to 20 inches tall.
  • B. hybrids: Many hybrids including ‘Evening Glow’ and ‘Silver Light.’

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