Guest Author - Hellie T.
Bergenias - common name elephant's ears which refers to their giant leathery leaves which could possibly look like the ears of an elephant!
These are tough plants that will flower their hearts out for you from early spring through to May.
The flowers are held on knee-high stalks and last for weeks – in colours that range from pink to deep red to purple and white, depending on the variety that you choose.
Most bergenias are hardy and able to cope with all weathers; in fact the cold weather will add a purple or red touch to their big green leaves.
Bergenias are really easy to grow and will tolerate most soils in shade or sun.
Although Bergenias are not a native British plant but they are widely found in English gardens - Gertrude Jekyll used them a lot when planning and planting her gardens.
How to grow
Choose your spot – they will grow in - full sun, partial shade, or even full shade
Bergenias will grow in any type or soil - well-drained, heavy and moist, light or clay, acidic or alkaline.
Their ideal place would probably be a sunny spot and good enriched soil.
Bergenias grow to 23 inches or 60cm - this is the height the flower stalks will reach the leaves will be lower down.
To keep your clumps of Bergenias from becoming overcrowded you should lift and divide them every three or four years.
To do this – in the spring dig up the whole plants.
Chop the rhizomes - making sure that each piece has plenty of new growth and roots.
To simply take a cutting just remove a piece of the outer section, checking that it has good roots and some new growth and plant where you wish.
Where to grow
Because they flower in late winter through the spring plant them where they can be seen from the house or somewhere you will be able to see them easily when the weather may not be too good!
Bergenias are excellent for planting as decorative groundcover under deciduous trees or large shrubs.
They look good on a sunny bank mixed with primroses
Use them as under planting beside hedges.
Massed planting looks good if you have the space – although if you plant 3 or 5 you will still get a lovely effect.
Enjoy your garden!