Guidelines for growing low-maintenance bergenias

October 9, 2015

When you need a fast and easy plant to cover shady ground, bergenia is the perennial for the job. The oval, glossy green leaves can highlight and support your garden beautifully if you follow these growing guidelines.

Guidelines for growing low-maintenance bergenias

Where to plant bergenias

  • As a foliage plant, densely packed clumps make a strong statement in shady gardens, carpeting the ground with bold leaves
  • For edging a pond or holding the soil of a hard-to-mow slope
  • Fronting a stone wall or spilling over a path
  • Mixed with columbine, ferns, or other "feathery" plants that contrast with bergenia's fleshy foliage
  • For a container planting because the mounds of leaves look attractive on all sides. The pot must be at least 60 centimetres (25 inches) wide and deep. Bergenia's cold-hardiness assures its survival in containers overwintered outdoors

How to grow bergenias

  • Location is the key to success with bergenias
  • Protect them from strong summer sun
  • If you have problematic, alkaline soil, this plant's for you
  • If your soil is a bit acidic, simply add compost to neutralize the soil, and to help it retain moisture and drain well. Or add garden lime according to package directions to raise the pH of the soil to neutral or a bit on the alkaline side
  • The dry soil that is typical of late summer in many places can cause leaf edges to brown, but you can avoid this problem by mulching between plants and watering if needed until it rains again
  • Each spring, fertilize plants with an organic mulch of compost, or sprinkle balanced-formula controlled-release fertilizer to provide a light buffet of nutrients over a three-month period

Get pests to bug off

  • Be on the lookout for the occasional slug or snail, as these pests relish bergenia's lush leaves.
  • To discourage pests:
  • thin the plants when they become crowded
  • don't overwater
  • remove slug-hiding spots like stones or logs on the soil's surface
  • if slugs appear, set out saucers of beer to lure and drown the pests, or sprinkle sharp diatomaceous earth on soil to deter them

Choose variations in colour

In all but the hottest climates, tresses of tiny flowers carried on short reddish stems crown the foliage in spring and last for a few weeks. It is here that plant breeders have nurtured some variation on the standard pink flowers.

Choose from these colourful variations:

  • 'Evening Glow' with crimson blooms
  • 'Perfecta' with rosy red blooms
  • 'Silver Light' with white flowers with reddish pink in the centre

What to expect in the changing seasons

  • If you clip off blooms as they begin to fade, you may get a repeat performance of flowering later in the season
  • Bergenia changes personality in late summer or early fall. As cold weather approaches, the leaves convert from green to bronze, purple, or russet
  • 'Evening Glow' is transformed into a maroon carpet in winter
  • In mild climates, the colourful leaves persist over the winter months, an attribute that is especially appreciated in regions where the ground is bare of snow

With bergenias, the key to a standout performance is moderation: not too much moisture, average soil, and protection from midday sun. Follow these guidelines and you'll get the most out of low-maintenance bergenias in your garden.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu