Bergenia 'Abendglocken'
Common Name: bergenia
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Rose-red
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Dry Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 5-8 where it is easily grown in organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun (cool summer climates) to afternoon shade (hot summer climates). Plants will grow in close to full shade, but best foliage appearance typically occurs 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 semi-evergreen to deciduous in USDA Zones 5 to 7 (foliage becomes bronzed and battered from cold winter temperatures), but typically remain evergreen 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.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Bergenia is a genus containing eight or more perennial rhizomatous herbs from temperate Asia that are somewhat popular ornamental plants, many of which are grown in gardens for their early spring flowers on scapes rising above the foliage, tough shiny evergreen leaves and spreading ground cover effect. They generally grow from 9-18” tall and feature leathery leaves in open rosettes. Flowers bloom in spring on scapose cymes in colors ranging from white to pink to reddish purple.

The most commonly sold berginias in commerce today are hybrids. Unfortunately many of the hybrids are so similar in characteristics that in some cases they are rather difficult to distinguish from each other.

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

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.

‘Abendglocken’ is a large-leaved hybrid bergenia that is primarily grown as a ground cover. Small, rose-red flowers appear in panicles within or above the foliage atop stout stalks to 16” tall in April. ‘Abendglocken’ is synonymous with ‘Evening Bells’.

Problems

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

Garden Uses

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 provides excellent greenery in floral arrangements. Container plant for mild winter areas. Perhaps best in mass plantings.