Bergenia cordifolia, or Pig Squeak as it is commonly called, has traditionally been used for medicinal purposes. This plant can be found in the Himalayan Mountains and was often used by the Nepalese for its antibacterial properties to treat earaches and urinary problems, as well as curing kidney stones. Modern research has also supported the idea of it being antibacterial, though at Reiman Gardens we are by no means guaranteeing any of these results.
This plant isn’t called Pig Squeak for nothing. Along with its medicinal side, there is also a whimsical side to this plant. By pulling a thumb and forefinger along a leaf, kids and adults alike enjoy the “squeal” the plant makes. This noisy plant is comprised of thick, glossy leaves and is a perennial that grows to be about 12-15 inches tall and approximately a foot across. It can be divided in the spring or fall.
Pig Squeak is considered an evergreen with green foliage in the summer and red or bronze foliage in winter. In early spring, it produces pink flowers that tower above the rest of the plant on thick stalks. It should be planted in moderately moist soil and does well in full sun, partial sun, and full shade. According to USDA hardiness zones, it can be grown in zones 3 through 8.
Pig Squeak has a variety of uses in the landscape. Whether it’s on a deck or in the garden, there’s a place for it. It can be planted in a container for people with no room for a garden or for those with more space, it does very well as groundcover or edging.
At Reiman Gardens, this plant can be found growing on the north and south side of the Mahlstede building. At first glance, this plant is a nice addition to the Gardens, but with a little more digging, gardeners will find that Pig Squeak is well-worth the garden space. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a squeaking plant? The antibacterial properties don’t hurt either.