Basic information about Bergenia. Includes Origin, Growing & Cultivation, Common Pests & Diseases, Interesting Facts & Uses, and Garden Design Tips.
The botanical name, Bergenia, was in honor of a German botanist and physician, Karl August von Bergen.
The common name of ‘pigsqueak’ is derived from the sound you can make if you rub two of the leaves together!
This plant is native to Central Asia, and is related to Mukdenia and Rodgersia.
Growing and Cultivation
Bergenia enjoys partial shade to full sun in cooler climates – very hot sun can burn them, so they are best shaded in hot areas.
They also would benefit from a protective, light winter mulch in very cold areas, and windbreaks (rocks, shrubs, etc) in areas with very cold winter winds.
These plants prefer moist, rich humus soil, and can be slow-growing if water is restricted and they get too dry.
Bergenia can experience center die-out and can be divided in the spring, after flowering.
Common Pests and Diseases
This plant is pretty disease and pest resistant, the only pest known to show up are vine weevil adult beetles, who will occasionally eat the edges of leaves, leaving them ‘notched’ around the rims. This doesn’t do any significant damage to the plant, however. You can use commercial or homemade insecticides, or simply pick off and destroy any vine weevils you find on the plant.
Bergenia is both deer and rabbit-resistant; they prefer not to eat it.
Interesting Facts and Uses
Bergenia flowers are a showy joy in the garden – in shades of white, pink, red, and combinations. They display huge clusters held above shiny foliage on their own stems. Lovely as cut flowers, and you can cut the leaves for arrangements as well.
Each stem only lasts for a few weeks on the plant, but they send up new stems regularly in season! You can extend the season by removing spent flower stems promptly.
Ayurvedic medicine uses a few species in this family ( B. ciliata and B. ligulata) for immune system therapy – there is a chemical compound (bergenin and norbergenin) found in leaves and roots that helps regulate immune responses.
Many cultivated garden varieties have earned the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Garden Design Tips
Bergenia is an amazing choice for garden beds and borders. Its springtime show of bountiful blooms is only the beginning! A fall and winter show of shades of bronze-red-purple leaves is next.
The texture of glossy, thick and bold leaves lends itself to contrast with the ferny leaves of Astilbes, Dicentras, Aquilegia, and other shady, fine-foliaged plants. The powerful flower interest can also offset some slower-to-emerge spring plantings.
To purchase Bergenia varieties, please visit our Shade Companion Plants Page.