A plant that has been in gardens for may year, Bergenia ciliata is often taken for granted. From Nepal, Kashmir and nearby areas it is frost tender, however one of the best flowering foliage plants for part shade.
Large rounded leaves with hairy feel are very soft, they can easily reach 9 inches (25cm) or more across. Large flowers will open close to white before turning to pink, they are often compared to those of a giant African violet.
This is an evergreen or partly deciduous perennial, depending on the winter and growing position. Although it is originally from the Himalayas, they have been grown in the UK for many years. In warmer climates the foliage will last well right through summer as long as the plant receives some shade.
Along with other Bergenia species the common name is 'Pigsqueak', if you rub the leaves together, as children love to do, you will hear the sound. B. ciliata is also known as the 'Hairy Bergenia'. Also commonly called 'Elephants Ears', hence the cultivar named 'Dumbo'.
Although Bergenia ciliata will cope with poos soil, it will reward you with better foliage and better flowers if you give it a little attention. And as for growing position, the more sun the better the flowers, however the foliage is better in part shade.
A few named cultivars are available including
- Bergenia ciliata 'Wilton' - Pale pink Flowers
- Bergenia ciliata 'Dumbo' - Larger foliage than the species
- Bergenia ciliata 'Dixter' - same as Wilton ?
- Bergenia ciliata 'Jelle' - White flowers on a ciliate with smooth (non hairy) foliage.
You will also find hybrids, Bergenia ciliate x emeinsis 'Pink Ice' is one
- Dappled shade.
- Mulch around plants each year with a well rotted compost.
- Humus rich moist soil.
- Well drained position.
- Remove spent flower heads to tidy up in early summer.
- Divide every 4 - 5 years to mainatin a healthy clump.
From seed propagation is very slow, however easy. Sow on the surface of a good seed raising mix By division in early spring is most usual.