bergenia cordifolia

Bergenia foliage with spent flower stalks.

Virtues: Adaptable to sun or shade. Blooms in early spring, with pink-purple flowers. Slowly spreads to make a dense groundcover. Leaves are large and thick, and they are evergreen in the warmer areas of their hardiness range, developing nice reddish coloration during the winter. Size of leaves makes the plant very good at suppressing weeds.

Common name: Pigsqueak, heartleaf bergenia

Botanical name: Bergenia cordifolia

Foliage: Rounded or heart-shaped fleshy leaves to 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. Deep green, taking on red to purple tones in fall and winter. Foliage persists through winter in warm areas.

bergenia cordifolia flowersFlowers: Purplish pink flowers held in nodding clusters atop thick stalks to 20 inches tall. Late winter to early spring. Flowers are sometimes hidden by the leaves on mature plants.

Habit: Rosette-shaped perennial to 12 to 24 inches tall and wide. Slowly spreads by rhizomes (underground stems).

Season: Spring for flowers, summer for foliage. (Year-round for foliage in warm areas.)

Origin: Russia.

Cultivation: Grow in sun or shade, in moist, humusy soil. Appreciates more shade in hot-summer areas. Will tolerate other soil types, but doesn’t tolerate drought. Remove any damaged leaves in spring. USDA Zones 3–8.

Top image attribution. Bottom image, public domain.

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5 thoughts on “Pigsqueak

  1. I’ve had my two Bergenia for three years now and they have never bloomed. The soil has lots of organic matter, they are irrigated, and it rains quite a bit here in the fall, winter, and spring. Anyone have suggestions as to why?

    • I’ve had several bergenias for four or five years and got my first flower stalk (one) last summer. I was so excited! They seem to grow very slowly in general, so maybe they just typically take a while to bloom. They’re worth waiting for, though, so hang in there.

  2. Years ago I learned that In Ural montains of Russia where this plant is native, local people collect the brown dried leaves and use them to make infusion just like others do with mint or chamomile. We had a big clump of it, so I, too, tried it and have to admit that even thought the taste is not very strong the aroma is very pleasant.

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