Common name: Elephant Ears
Bergenia cordifolia, commonly known as 'Elephants Ears' is a hardy perennial that originates from Siberia and has broad leathery leaves (hence its common name).
It is a useful ground cover plant particularly if it is grown in groups of three or four plants, and can be grown in either Full sun, Partial shade or Shade.
Each plant will spread to around 75cm (30") in diameter and the leaves to around 400-500mm (15"-18")high.
The leaves are green for most of the year but once they have been subjected to cold frosty weather the leaves can become speckled with large purple spots / blemishes during the winter months.
The rose pink flowers grow to around 400-500mm (15"-18") high in April to May.
It will grow in virtually any soil providing it is free draining thus avoiding the root ball becoming water logged.
Seeds can be sown in late summer or late winter / early spring.
If you plan to start Bergenia indoors place the seeds in moist soil and seal inside placed in a plastic bag then refrigerate for two weeks.
After the two weeks press the small seeds into a tray of seed compost, but do not cover them as they need light to germinate.
Place in a well lit position and keep at temperatures of around 21°C (70°F).
Water from the base of the tray, keeping the compost moist but (but not too wet) at all times.
Germination can be slow and erratic, and take up to 6 months,so do not discard the tray too soon.
Prick out each seedling once it has its first set of true leaves, transplant into 70mm (3in) pots and grow them on in a frost free space.
Plants should be hardened off for 10 to 15 days before planting out once all danger of frost has passed.
The plants will usually bloom in their second year from sowing.
When sowing the seeds directly outdoors sow the seeds on the surface of the soil.
Bergenia seeds require a period of cold for germination so it is important to sow outside before the last frost thus making late winter / early spring the best time to sow.
Plants can be propagated by division in March as the soil begins to warm up.
Plants that have been growing on since the previous year can now be planted out providing they have been well hardened off.
Seeds can be sown around now if required follow the instruction as described in Week 8.
Plants from a current years sowing can be planted out around now providing they are considered to be large enough to survive the winter, otherwise leave them in a coldframe to grow on to plant out the following spring.