Native to the Himalayas and the mountains of China. Thick rootstocks produce rosettes of ornamental, glossy green leaves to 1 ft. across. Evergreen except in the coldest areas; foliage of many types blushes red in cool weather. Thick, leafless, 1- to 112-ft.-tall stalks bear graceful, nodding clusters of small white, pink, or rose flowers shaped like funnels or bells; blossoms are typically 12 1 in. across. Bergenias lend a strong, substantial textural quality to borders and plantings under trees; also make a bold, patterned ground cover. Effective with ferns, hostas, hellebores; good as foreground planting for aucubas, rhododendrons, Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata).
B. ciliata (B. ligulata). FRILLY BERGENIA. Choicest, most elegant. To 1 ft. Lustrous light green leaves are smooth on edges but fringed with soft hairs; young leaves bronzy. White, rose, or purplish flowers bloom in late spring, summer. Slightly tender; leaves burn in severe frost.
B. cordifolia. HEARTLEAF BERGENIA. Glossy, roundish leaves are glossy, roundish, heart shaped at base, with wavy, toothed edges. In spring, rose or lilac flowers appear in pendulous clusters partially hidden by leaves. Plant grows to 20 in. tall. Leaves of 'Lunar Glow' emerge creamy yellow and hold their color through much of the summer before turning burgundy in fall; flowers are dark pink. 'Tubby Andrews' has leaves splashed with golden yellow; flowers are pink. 'Winterglut' ('Winter Glow') has bright red flowers and leathery green leaves that turn reddish bronze in cool weather.
B. crassifolia. WINTER-BLOOMING BERGENIA. Dark green leaves, to 8 in. or more across, have wavy, sparsely toothed edges. Rose, lilac, or purple flowers in dense clusters on erect stems that stand well above leaves. Blooms in spring.
B. hybrids. Some of the best are of English or German origin.
'Abendglut' ('Evening Glow'). Dark red flowers and dark reddish leaves with crimped edges.
'Apple Blossom'. Reddish stems hold large (112-in.-wide), light pink blossoms.
'Bressingham Ruby'. Rose-red blooms rise over green leaves that turn bronzy purple in winter.
'Bressingham White'. White flowers.
'Herbstblute' ('Autumn Glory'). Leaves turn purplish in fall, when it also tends to rebloom.
'Morgenrote'('Morning Red'). Has bronzy-toned leaves, dark red flowers.
'Pink Dragonfly'. Small (10 in. tall), narrow-leafed plant with pink blooms, purple-tinged winter leaves.
'Silberlicht' ('Silver Light'). Large, slightly toothed leaves and white blossoms.
Bergenias do well in part shade in the Upper and Middle South, full shade in Lower South. Plant about 112 ft. apart. They do best in good soil with regular watering, good drainage, feeding, and periodic grooming. Cut back yearly to prevent legginess. Divide crowded clumps and replant vigorous divisions in late winter or early spring.