DESCRIPTION: Bergenia is a small group of hardy perennials growing wild from Afghanistan to southeast Tibet and the Himalayas. These plants form clumps of large, evergreen leaves, which have a leathery texture, and clusters of small flowers. They grow from 1 to 2 feet high and spread 20 to 24 inches. They are good ground cover plants. B. ciliata has heart-shaped leaves that are fringed with bristles. They are dark green turning red in the fall. The small flowers are cup-shaped and are borne in thick bunches in early spring. They are white turning to pink. B. cordifolia 'Purpurea' forms clumps of rounded leaves with wavy edges. They are dark green tinged with purple, especially in the winter. The small, bell-shaped, rose-pink flowers are produced in compact clusters on strong red stems from late winter to early spring.
POTTING: They will flourish in any well-drained soil that is rich in humus. Grow them in sun or partial shade. Bergenia should be placed in a sheltered position to protect from cold, dry winds that may scorch the foliage. B. ciliata isn't hardy everywhere and may be killed down by severe cold, but will recover. It is a good idea to plant it by a small shrub to provide permanent protection. B.cordifolia 'Purpurea' and its parent species are some of the most cold- and heat- tolerant of Bergenias.
PROPAGATION: Bergenia may be divided in the spring after they've bloomed, or seeds may be sown in sandy soil.
VARIETIES: B. cordifolia; B. crassifolia; B. Delavayi; B. ligulata; B. Stracheyi; B. ciliata; B. 'Silberlicht'; B. 'Ballawley'.
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