Bergenia ciliata
Common Name: winter begonia 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Native Range: Southern Kashmir to southwestern Nepal
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Pink flowers with rose-pink calyces
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 5-8 where it is easily grown in organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained soils in part shade (cool summer climates) or close to full shade (hot summer climates). Tolerates full shade, but foliage appearance is best with some sunny or sun dappled conditions. Established plants have tolerance for brief periods of drought, but perform best with consistent moisture. Soils should not be allowed to completely dry out. Plants spread slowly by rhizomes. Plants are deciduous in USDA Zones 5 to 7, but usually remain semi-evergreen (foliage often becomes bronzed and battered from cold winter temperatures) south of Zone 7. Winter mulch may be advisable to protect roots in northern climates which lack continuous snow cover. Promptly remove spent flowering stems. Early spring frosts may destroy flower buds or flowers. Propagate by division (spring or fall) or by seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Bergenia ciliata, commonly called fringed bergenia, hairy leaf bergenia or winter begonia, is a large-leaved, slow-growing, clump-forming perennial that typically grows to 12” tall and spreads to 24” wide. It is native to woodland areas, shady rock ledges and alpine meadows in temperate areas of the Himalayas, ranging from eastern Pakistan to Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet mostly in elevations from 6500’ to 10,000’.

Open rosettes of thick, leathery, finely-toothed, wavy-edged, broad obovate to rounded green leaves (to 12-14” long) form dense, slowly spreading clumps of foliage. Leaves are pubescent (ciliate) on both leaf surfaces (hence the common name of hairy leaf bergenia), with the leaf margins being toothed and fringed (hence the common name of fringed bergenia). Pale pink flowers with rose-pink calyces bloom in early to mid spring in clusters atop stout stalks rising slightly above the foliage to 10” tall. Flowers in some climates appear before the new leaves emerge.

Genus name honors German physician and botanist Karl August von Bergen (1704-1759).

The specific epithet comes from the Latin word ciliatus meaning with soft hairs in reference to the hairy leaves.

Pig squeak is a less serious common name which is applied to all Bergenia genus members in reference to the squeaking noise made when the foliage is rubbed between one’s fingers.


No serious insect or disease problems. Greenhouse thrips. Aphids, mealybugs, weevils, slugs and snails. Leaf spot is the most common disease.


Outstanding large-leaved foliage plant that serves as an excellent ground cover for shady areas of the landscape. Edging for paths and walkways. Border fronts. Best in areas where the flowers can be seen and appreciated in spring. Foliage may be used in floral arrangements. Container plant for mild winter areas.