Plant of the Month for May 2010

Bergenia ciliata; photo by Todd Boland
Bergenia ciliata

Description and general information

This Bergenia is relatively uncommon. It is unusual in being deciduous. I find it blooms earlier than the typical evergreen types. Pale pink flowers begin to open within a short time of snow-melt and at first are held on quite short stems but as the season progresses, the stems elongate and arch to 12". The foliage gets quite large (12" diameter) by early summer and has lovely crenulated, hairy margins.

This species is native to Nepal and adjacent areas of the Himalayas, growing among shady rocks and woodlands at an elevation of 900-4300 m.

Medicinally this plant's rhizomes appear to have antibacterial properties.

Cultivation

Full sun in cooler climates but morning sun or dappled shade in most regions; mostly grown under woodland conditions but also suitable for shaded areas of the rockery keeping in mind that the summer foliage could swamp timid neighbors.

Soil should be reasonably rich, well-drained yet not prone to droughtiness. Heavy soils are tolerated. They do not seem fussy about soil pH.

Bloom period

February to May, depending on your zone. Listed as hardy to zone 5 so not quite as hardy as the evergreen types.

Propagation

Division, seed

Seed

The reference noted below says to surface sow seed at 13-16 C and that germination may take up to a year.

Division

Dig and divide plants in early spring or autumn (latter probably best).

Cuttings

not a common practice

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