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We love Bergenia cordifolia, or pigsqueak, for its tall stalks of early spring flowers and its large handsome leaves, which make it a good groundcover.

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.

Flowers: 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.

bergenia cordifolia flowers

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.