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12 Interesting Facts About Bergenia

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Bergenia, also known as elephant ear or pig squeak, is an attractive, low-growing perennial plant that thrives in shade and is ideal for rock gardens. With its large, fleshy leaves and pink flower clusters, bergenia adds unique texture and visual interest to shady garden beds.

Though a relatively little-known genus, bergenia has some fascinating features. Here are 12 interesting facts about this eye-catching plant.

Interesting Facts About Bergenia

  1. Bergenia’s common names tell a story. Its moniker “elephant ear” refers to the plant’s large, rounded leaves, while “pig squeak” describes the sound made when its fleshy leaves are rubbed together.
  2. There are over 30 species of bergenia, many native to areas across Asia, from Siberia to the Himalayas. The best-known variety grown in gardens is Bergenia cordifolia.
  3. With its tolerance for cold climates, bergenia is grown as far north as Alaska and Canada. It can withstand temperatures as low as -20°F once established.
  4. Thick, leathery leaves enable bergenia plants to store water and adapt to dry conditions. Their leaves turn bronze or burgundy in fall and winter.
  5. Early spring blooms emerge while the plant is still in its winter coloring. Clusters of pink or white flowers on short stalks contrast beautifully with the foliage.
  6. Bergenia offers year-round interest in the garden. Its leaves take center stage in fall and winter, while flowers add a pop of color in spring.
  7. Also called Saxifraga, bergenia is in the Saxifrage family. Its genus name honors 18th century German botanist Carl August von Bergen.
  8. Toxic compounds in bergenia’s leaves make it unpalatable to deer, rabbits, and other wildlife that might munch on garden plants.
  9. An herbaceous perennial, bergenia forms a slowly spreading clump over time. Individual plants can grow 12-18 inches wide.
  10. Low maintenance and drought tolerant, bergenia requires little care once established. Too much summer water can cause leaf spot fungus.
  11. Use bergenia as edging along paths, as a ground cover on slopes, or in containers and rock gardens. It also works well with hostas.
  12. Easy propagation through division or root cuttings in spring or fall allows gardeners to expand bergenia plantings.


With its versatility and adaptability, tough and hardy bergenia should have a spot in any shade garden. This unique plant offers multi-season beauty and reliable performance. Learning more about bergenia reveals just how interesting a garden gem it is. With a bit of basic care, gardeners can enjoy its charms for many years.

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