© RHS / Winwood

Introducing...

Bergenia

Common name: elephant’s ears

These easy-to-grow, evergreen perennials really earn their keep, making a year-round contribution to borders. Their large leathery leaves, often tinged red in winter, make attractive ground cover, while the flowers are an early bounty for pollinating insects. They combine well with other spring flowers in shade or sun.

Looks

Upright, paddle-shaped, glossy green leaves grow from thick, ground-hugging, horizontal stems. In late winter and spring, loose clusters of usually pink bell-like flowers open on upright stems.

Likes

Happy in sun or shade, bergenias thrive in humus-rich, moist but well drained soil. They will also tolerate poor soil, and this can enhance the leaves' reddish tints in autumn and winter.

Dislikes

Permanently wet soil can cause bergenias to rot, while deep shade may reduce or prevent flowering. In an exposed site, cold winds can damage the foliage and frost can spoil early flowers.

Did you know?

Just before flowering in late winter or early spring, cut off any leaves that have been damaged or blackened by winter weather, to show off the blooms to best effect.

Growing guide

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