Heartleaf Bergenia – Bergenia cordifolia

heartleaf bergenia cordifolia

Image of Heartleaf Bergenia courtesy Walter’s Gardens. In winter, you’ll love the unique change in foliage color of this gorgeous perennial plant.

Heartleaf Bergenia is one of the most stunning perennials for shade or partial shade that can be found. Its distinctive foliage is the main reason for Bergenia’s foliage is impressive. The leaves of Bergenia are huge, shiny, and round with a tough leathery feeling that appears indestructible.

heartleaf bergenia cordifolia
In summer, Heartleaf Bergenia is an attractive, shade-loving perennial

These handsome leaves turn to bronze with the first frost and maintain their rich colors throughout the winter. Bergenia can be buried beneath a winter snowbank and when the snow melts, the reddish foliage (other than a few tatters) is just as beautiful as it was before the snow.  The summer foliage of Bergenia is also striking for the leathery-looking foliage maintains its short neat appearance all season.

Bergenia’s excellent foliage makes this fine perennial a perfect choice for landscaping the front of a north-facing home or under a commercial portico entrance. Not many perennials have the winning combinations of a spreading, short stature along with being evergreen.

Bergenia’s early spring buds will be found tucked down inside the foliage, but with warmer temperatures, their twelve-inch stems will lift and the buds will open into compact clusters. Bergenia flowers range in colors from pale pink thru ruby shades and resemble Hyacinth blooms. The picture below shows both hyacinth and bergenia blooming. Can you tell the difference?

bergenia and hyacinths
Hyacinth blooms at the top of this photo. Bergenia’s pink buds can be seen below the bergenia foliage.

The blooms last for several weeks. As they finish blooming, cut off the blooms and trim up any of Bergenia’s tattered foliage. The rounded foliage and short fifteen-inch stance of Bergenia makes it an excellent front for other partial or shade plants. Dicentra or Bleeding Hearts make a great background behind Bergenia in spring. Ferns for summer and ‘Chocolate’ eupatorium for fall will give you a full season of glorious perennial garden color.

bergenia
Bergenia in the foreground is framed by Dicentra (Bleeding Hearts) in the background.

The excellent foliage and 15×15-inch clump of bergenia acts as a good front for taller shade perennials like the bleeding hearts shown at the top of the image above. If your shady garden could use an outstanding, tough, zone-three perennial with large, glossy, richly colored leaves, then bergenia is the exactly what is needed! Her richly colored leaves look lovely all season!

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