Bergenia purpurascens
Common Name: purple bergenia
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Native Range: Eastern Himalayas
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Pink to purplish-red
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Dry Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, but prefers consistently moist, organically rich ones. Best in part shade conditions. Tolerates full sun in cool summer climates. Tolerates brief periods of drought, but foliage appearance is best if soils are not allowed to dry. Promptly remove spent flowering stems. Plants spread slowly by thick, scaly rhizomes. Foliage damaged by cold winters should be removed in late winter to early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Bergenia purpurescens is a clump-forming perennial that is native to the eastern Himalayas, western China and northern Burma. It is particularly noted for having foliage that turns beet red in late fall through winter. Each plant features a rosette of leathery, elliptic to ovate-elliptic leaves (to as much as 10" long) which emerge with reddish blush in spring, but mature by summer to glosssy deep green above and purple-red underneath. Leaves form a spreading clump of foliage to 12" tall. Leaves are evergreen and retain their deep green color in winter in mild winter climates, but turn attractive shades of purple to beet red as temperatures drop in fall in cold winter climates. Beet red leaf color is particularly attractive in winter unless leaves suffer winter damage. Nodding, pink to purplish-red flowers bloom in mid to late spring in cymose inflorescences atop strong purplish-red stems rising above the foliage to 16-18" tall.

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

Specific epithet is in reference to purple foliage color.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spot may occur. Potential insect pests include weevils, caterpillars, aphids, thrips, mealybugs, slugs and snails.

Garden Uses

Shaded border fronts, woodland gardens or rock gardens. Ground cover for woodland or shade gardens. Edging for paths and walkways. Leaves are sometimes used in floral arrangements.