Polygonatum

Polygonatum x hybridum

Polygonatum x hybridum

Sometimes called Solomon’s seal, this is a lovely woodland plant, at home in English gardens but seemingly quite adaptable to many Sydney gardens too. It comes from Europe and temperate Asia, and is classified as belonging to the family Asparagaceae.

It is completely herbaceous, dying down in autumn. It reappears around October, at first visible as a small snout at soil level, soon elongating into elegant arched stems clothed in foliage and hung with dainty greenish white bells (ht 60 – 80cm). There is a beautiful variegated-leaf form called ‘Variegatum’, which has creamy white edges to its foliage.

Solomon’s seal prefers to grow in a cool, shaded spot (even full shade), in good soil with reasonable moisture; however, it seems to also grow in less hospitable sites, and copes quite well with the competition of tree roots. It can be quite vigorous and eventually, thick clumps will form, which can be divided by removing some crowded sections and leaving the rest behind. Give them some compost after flowering.

They look pretty growing amongst ferns, Hosta, Iris japonica or hellebores (which will still have greenish, aged flowers on them when the Solomon’s seal appears). I also grow them beneath Hydrangea and Camellia to add interest in the late spring period. Cut stems are useful in a vase.

Flowers in October, November.

Solomon’s Seal Info – Caring For A Solomon’s Seal Plant

When you’re planning a garden in the shade, the Solomon’s seal plant is a must have. I recently had a friend share some of the fragrant, variegated Solomon’s seal plant (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’) with me. I was happy to learn it is the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year, so designated by Perennial Plant Association. Let’s learn more about Solomon’s seal growing.

Solomon’s Seal Info

Solomon’s seal info indicates that scars on the plants where leaves have dropped look like the sixth seal of King Solomon, hence the name.

The variegated variety and the green Solomon’s seal plant are true Soloman’s seal, (Polygonatum spp.). There is also a widely grown False Solomon’s seal plant (Maianthemum racemosum). All three varieties were previously of the Liliaceae family, but the true Solomon’s seals were recently move to the Asparagaceae family, according to Solomon’s seal info. All types perform best in shady or mostly shaded areas and typically deer resistant.

True Solomon’s seal plant reaches 12 inches to several feet in height, blooming in April through June. White bell-shaped blossoms dangle below attractive, arching stems. Flowers become bluish black berries in late summer. The attractive, ribbed foliage turns a golden yellow color in autumn. False Solomon’s seal has similar, opposite leaves, but flowers on the end of the stem in a cluster. False Solomon’s seal growing info says the berries of this plant are a ruby red color.

The green leaved specimen and False Solomon’s seal are native to the United States, while variegated types are native to Europe, Asia and the United States.

How to Plant a Solomon’s Seal

You may find some Solomon’s seal growing in wooded areas of USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7, but don’t disturb the wild plants. Purchase healthy plants from a local nursery or garden center, or get a division from a friend to add this interesting beauty to the woodland garden.

Learning how to plant Solomon’s seal simply requires burying a few of the rhizomes in a shaded area. Solomon’s seal info advises leaving plenty of room for them to spread when initially planting.

These plants prefer moist, well draining soil that is rich, but are drought tolerant and can take some sun without wilting.

Caring for a Solomon’s seal requires watering until the plant is established.

Caring for Solomon’s Seal

Caring for a Solomon’s seal is relatively easy. Keep the soil consistently moist.

There are no serious insect or disease issues with this plant. You’ll find them multiplying by rhizomes in the garden. Divide as needed and move them to other shady areas as they outgrow their space or share with friends.

Reviews

Solomon’s Seal, polygonatum biflorum

Solomon’s Seal, polygonatum biflorum is a hardy perennial that needs partial shade. This plant can grow 2-3 feet in height and has pale yellow blooms in mid-Spring.

USDA Zones 3-9

This unique shade perennial has gently arching stems and dangling creamy bells. Solomon’s seal adds depth and grace to shaded gardens in spring-time. Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) is a medicinal herb that has different uses. It can be utilized as a homegrown tincture, balm, tea or supplement. As an option medication, it gives help, recuperating or repairing to wounds and other intense wounds identified with tendons, joints, ligaments, bones, wounds, interfacing tissues, ligament, osteoarthritis, and so on. It likewise relieves and repairs gastrointestinal irritation and sores. It is viable for ladylike issues, for example, menstrual issues, PMS, and so forth. Also, it is known to soothe dry hacks, and to build focus and mental clarity.

Solomon’s Seal has a rich history that goes back hundreds of years.

Botanists and healers, both in Europe and North America and the Far East, for quite a long time have expounded on its various impacts on various conditions. On the one hand, it is by all accounts a “wonder plant,” and various experts consider a container of tincture or a jug of ointment to be a flat out must be in one’s medication bureau or survival kit.

Solomon’s seal customarily takes up to two years to fully mature, so smart gardeners get a head start by planting the roots instead. The first thing you need to do is to choose a location that receives a great deal of shade, particularly during the afternoon. Plant the roots in autumn about four inches deep after loosening the soil and working in a bit of organic matter. The last step is to mulch the area with a light layer of leaf or pine straw mulch.

Solomon’s seal are very unique plants that bring many benefits to the gardener.

Solomon Seal

Solomon Seal Plant For Sale Affordable Grower Direct Prices Tennessee Wholesale Nursery

Solomon Seal is a relative of asparagus and is used for both food and medicine. Solomon’s Seal has arching stems and hanging tubular cream-colored flowers. It grows well in shaded areas with fertile soil. Preferring rich soil in a damp, shady setting, this plant is slow to become well established but will eventually form nice clumps. The root is a rhizome. The circular scar that it leaves when a stem is broken away resembles the Star of David. That is why it was dubbed the Solomon Seal.

Affordable Fast Growing Solomon’s Seal

They have white to pale greenish white bell-shaped flowers that dangle from the stems. They possess alternating lance-shaped leaves, which are green, and some are green with a white tip. Flowers are followed by blue-black berries in autumn. Best in woodland gardens, wild gardens, naturalized areas or native plant gardens. May be used in partially shaded borders or rock gardens. Good with astilbe and ferns.

Botanical Latin Name: Polygonatum Biflorum

Common Name: Solomon”s Seal
Sun Exposure: Best in part shade to shade
Hardiness Zones: does well in 3-9 acidic to average
Mature Height: grows to 1-4 ft.
Spread: Rapidly spread through rootstock.
Spacing: Plant 2-3″ inches apart
Growth Rate: moderate
Flowering Time: Early spring
How Long It Flowers: The flowers last from early spring to early summer
Flower Color: White to pale greenish white
Soil Requirements: Grows best in fertile Well-drained soil
Pruning: Seldom needs pruning. If required do so sparingly every 3-4 years

Polygonatum × hybridum

in past years my solomans seal has been shredded almost before it has imerged from the ground. i believe it may be some sort of caterpillar. What do I do to save it’s beauty?

margaret

2018-04-24

Hello, These plants can be attacked by sawfly larvae – and while the damage can look pretty bad, they will rarely affect the plants long term health and vigour. The best course of action is to check your plants regularly (they are usually found on the undersides of the leaves) and pick them off. Alternatively, you can use a pesticide, but please take care not to use them while the plants are in flower.

2018-04-26

Helen

The leaves are being stripped during early/mid season leaving a lattice-work behind. What is the likely cause and can you suggest a remedy?

nibby

2015-04-26

Hello, Slugs and sawlfy larvae like to eat the foliage of these plants, so the first thing you need to do is try to identify the culprits. They can then either be picked off as you see them, or you can take further action. For sawflies, you can spray the plants with an insecticide containing deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin or pyrethrum. For slugs, there are several option – please click on the following link to go straight to them. http://www.crocus.co.uk/products/_/tools/pest-control/slugs-snail-control/plcid.767/plcid.783/plcid.967/

2015-05-15

Helen

Yes,I can concur that sawflies may be responsible for decimating the plant. I was unsure what to use to stop this. However when spraying roses for greenfly I used the remaining Rose Clear in the container and had no more trouble from the saw flies. So next spring at the first signs of attack they will get the same treatment.

2017-09-23

Tinman

I have a part shaded spot and it has been suggested to plant Solomon’s Seal. After looking on the internet this may be a more hardy plant – would it be suitable in a part shady spot, the spot does receive early morning sun/light for about 2-3 hours?

Dottydally

2014-02-27

Hello there Yes this plant would be fine in partial shade, and it is fully hardy.

2014-02-28 Is my Polygonatum OK? My Polygonatum multiflorum (Solomon’s Seal) looks just a pot of earth. It may be that it is too early for the plant to be showing above the soil yet, but I understood it was spring flowering so assumed something would be showing by now. 2008-03-12

The Polygonatum mulitflorum is a herbaceous perennial which die down cvompletely during the winter. Therefore they will not be showing any growth at all at this time of the year. Once they start to grow though (usually around mid to late April), they are pretty fast and will start to flower in early summer from May onwards.

2008-03-12

Crocus

Polygonatum Miller is a genus in the Convallariaceae family commonly known as Solomon’s Seal. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II includes it in Asparagaceae or alternately in Ruscaceae. Species are caulescent herbs, with thick to thin rhizomes, and are distributed throughout the temperate parts of Eurasia and North America, but concentrated in the Himalayas and North America. These are woodland garden plants that are grown for their interesting structure and foliage as well as their pendent flowers. Pests include Solomons Seal Sawfly. The name may derive from a medicinal property of sealing wounds or because parts of the plant can be used to form an impression of a six pointed star.

Polygonatum hookeri Baker is native to fairly high alpine turf in a wide swathe from the Himalaya through China’s Qinghai and Gansu provinces. This is a diminutive, mat-forming treasure with pink flowers in May-June that grows to 10 cm (4″). Zone 6, perhaps colder. Text and photo from Paige Woodward.

Polygonatum × hybridum (Polygonatum multiflorum × Polygonatum odoratum) is known as ‘garden’ Solomon’s seal and is vigorous. It is prone to attack by Solomons Seal Sawfly. It can be propagated easily from a small piece of rhizome; the rhizomes grow just below the surface and are hard. Stems arch with flowers hanging down, maximum height is about 3 feet. The hybrid is distinguished from the parent species, by having slightly angled ridged stems. Plants die back in late Autumn and reappear in the middle of Spring, but survive being cut back either by sawfly or by the gardener trying to keep them under control. Photographed by David Pilling.

Seed is rarely set. Photos show fruit; neither contained seed.

Polygonatum macranthum (Maxim.) Koidz. is native to Japan and the Koreas. It has one to four long white bells that dangle from the axils of tall, arching stalks and grows to 120 cm (48″). Photo from Paige Woodward.

Polygonatum ‘Multifide’ is a great plant of unknown origin. It starts as a grey-green single stem, then forks into big, gracefully contorted branches from which dangle long, tubular, greenish-white flowers with green lips. Dark blue berries follow in autumn. It grows to 40-50 cm (16-20″) and is hardy to Zone 6, possibly colder. Text and photos from Paige Woodward.

Polygonatum odoratum is native to Europe and Asia. The white flowers occur in pairs and hang beneath the leaves.

‘Variegatum’ is a showy selection with leaves edged in creamy white. Photos taken April 2007 by Jay Yourch.

Polygonatum verticillatum commonly known as ‘whorled Solomon’s seal’ is found in the North of Europe. Photographs by David Pilling, photo 1 is of seed, photo 2 taken at the end of August 2013 is of seed which started to sprout on the 14th May 2013, it appears that germination is hypogeal and the small bulbs formed will not begin to grow until 2014 after a further period of cold. Others report similar results for this genus.

Polygonatum zanlanscianense This plant pictured below was purchased as P. cirrhifolium but the owner was sure it was incorrectly identified since her plant had black berries instead of red. It was 1.5 m high with clasping tips to whorled leaves. It has been identified as Polygonatum zanlanscianense. Photo by Anne Wright.

Return to the PBS Wiki Photographs And Information page

Q: What is the best time of year to dig and divide a large clump of Solomon’s seal growing in my garden?

— Bob Mudge, Aurora

A: Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp.) can be divided in fall or spring, but waiting until next spring would allow you to fully enjoy the yellow foliage and blue-black berries this native spring-flowering wildflower offers in fall. Dig when the ground is workable and before new growth resumes. Divide the clump with a knife or spade, and replant the divisions in a shady spot with moist, organically rich soil.

Because each Solomon’s seal rhizome produces only one stem, planting five or more rhizomes about 6 inches apart will give you a fuller look. Rhizomes growing in conditions resembling their native woodland habitat form slowly spreading colonies.

Naturally hardy to Zone 3, small greenish-white flowers bloom in late May or June beneath upright yet gently arching stems up to 3 feet high.

Q: Our condominium association needs to replace several shrubs that were removed before construction. Can you recommend some low-maintenance and relatively inexpensive options for full sun?

— Joan Levine, Chicago

A: Easy-to-grow options for full sun include bush cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa), ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Gro-Low sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’), Bumald spirea (Spiraea x bumalda), Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri), bush honeysuckle (Diervilla spp.), and weigela (Weigela). These deciduous flowering shrubs are winter hardy in Zone 4 or colder, generally have few serious disease or insect problems, and are commonly found in big-box retailers and nurseries at budget-friendly prices.

The next recommended time to install most shrubs is immediately after plants begin showing fall color or dropping leaves. Give these plants a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch and proper watering until the ground freezes. Shrubs also can be planted in the spring. Try to address any construction-related soil problems such as compaction before planting.

Q: Should I deadhead coneflowers? I would like more blossoms but also want to make sure I have enough seeds for birds to eat.

— Laura Guzman, Gurnee

A: Immediately removing spent coneflower (Echinacea) blossoms will encourage plants to produce more flowers during the normal mid-summer to early fall blooming period. Stop snipping in mid-August to allow late-season flowers to produce seeds that will attract finches and other seed-feeding birds to your garden.

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
Common names: Fragrant Solomon’s Seal, Lady’s Seals, Saint Mary’s Seal, Sealwort, Sigillum Sanctae Mariae, Yu Zhu, Angular Solomon’s Seal, True Solomon’s Seal, Dropberry, Sealroot, American Solomon’s Seal, King Solomon’s Seal, Small Solomon’s Seal, Sow’s Teats, He Shou Wu, Mahmeda, Meda
Except for the root and tender young shoots, all parts of the adult plant, especially the berries are poisonous and should not be consumed. The berries may cause vomiting, and the leaves, nausea, if chewed.
Genus: Polygonatum Family: Ruscaceae; Liliaceae (lily) Species: Biflorum
Type: Perennial Hardiness: Zones 4a – 9b Bloom Time: Mid – Late Spring/Early Summer
Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade/Light Shade, woodland Height: 18″ – 24″ Spread: Yes
Description: Hardy woodland perennial has stems that curve gracefully and bear pale green, oval leaves and drooping clusters of creamy white flowers, followed by blue-black berries. The plant consists of a single stem with many broad, ovate leaves with parallel veination arranged alternately along the length of it and clasping the base. It often grows in a slight arc. The flowers dangle from the leaf axils beneath the arc of the stem. (This gives the plant its folk name “sow’s teats”). The large and broadly-oval leaves grow alternately on the stem, practically clasping it by the bases. All the leaves have the character of turning one way, being bent slightly upward, as well as to one side, and have very marked longitudinal ribbing on their surfaces. The flowers are in little drooping clusters of from two to seven, springing from the axils of the leaves, but hanging in an opposite direction to the foliage. They are tubular in shape, of a creamy or waxy white, topped with a yellowish-green, and sweet-scented, and are succeeded by small berries about the size of a pea, of a blackish-blue colour, varying to purple and red, and containing about three or four seeds. The plant’s botanical genus, Polygonatum, refers to the “many-angled” knots on the root or the numerous joints on the stems. The specific name, multiflorum, serves to distinguish this many-flowered species from another in which the blossoms are solitary, or only in pairs from each axil. The creeping rootstock, or underground stem, is thick and white. Because of the creeping rootstock, the plant multiplies very rapidly.
Cultivation: Rhizomes should be planted 2 inches deep in the Spring or Fall. but may safely be done at any time, if taken up with plenty of soil, until they begin to shoot in the spring, when the ground should be dug about them and kept clean from weeds. They should also have room to spread and must not be removed oftener than every third or fourth year. To give Solomon’s Seal a good start when planting, the soil should be well broken up with a fork and have a little mild manure worked in.
Fertilizing: Fertilize with leafmould, or an annual top dressing of decayed manure in March.
Soil and pH: Light, well drained, moist, humus-rich acidic soil with a pH of 5.0-7.0. with a cool root run.
Watering: Water regularly; do not over-water
Pests/Diseases: No special problems
Reflowering: None
Propogation/Transplanting: By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets), or by seeds. Gather and sow seeds as soon as gathered in autumn, they will germinate in early spring. The best time to transplant or part the roots is in autumn, after the stalks decay. Seed grown plants will take as long as four years to reach blooming size. When harvesting the roots, leave several inches (or 3-4 nodes) of the newest portion untouched so that you don’t kill or damage the plant.
Notes/Gardening Tips: Plant’s age may be estimated by examining the rhizome. Each year the stem leaves a scar, or “seal” on the rhizome. Solomon’s Seal is a close relative of Lily of the Valley and was formerly assigned to the same genus (Convallaria, now Liliaceae), with several similar species native to North America, northern Europe and Siberia, and cultivated as popular garden ornamentals.
Solomon’s Seal is named for the Biblical King Solomon, who, granted great wisdom by the Hebrew God, had a special seal that aided him in his magical workings, allowing him to command demons without coming to harm. According to herbal lore, King Solomon himself placed his seal upon this plant when he recognized its great value. Those with imagination can see the seal on the rootstock in the circular scars left by the stem after it dies back. In A.D. 130-200, the most famous physician of his day, Galen, recommended the use of Solomon’s Seal root to remove freckles, spots and marks for a fair and lovely skin. In the sixteenth century, the herbalist John Gerard, was so enamored by Solomon’s Seal’s diverse healing qualities, thathe pronounced: “Common experience teacheth, that in the world there is not to be found another herbe comparable to it.” and in his Herball, claimed that Solomon’s Seal was an effective treatment for cuts, wounds and bruises of all kinds when used in a poultice. He also wrote that when taken internally, the roots were excellent for “broken bones to knit.” In his publication, Theatrum Botanicum, of 1640, John Parkinson, a renowned British apothecary, noted that Italian women used the root to improve their complexions and retain their beauty and agelessness. In North America, early native tribes made a tea of the rootstock as a cure for women’s complaints and general internal pains.

Solomon’s Seal

Increasingly, gardeners are recognizing the historical and ecological appeal of native plants. Many growers want their landscapes to include what originally grew in their regions. One of my favorite natives for landscaping is the versatile Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum). Equally at home in wildflower preserves, shade gardens, and perennial borders, Solomon’s seal is easy to grow and valuable for its arching stems with smooth foliage. The flowers aren’t showy, but in May (where I live), the small, greenish white, pendulous blossoms, followed several weeks later by dark blue berries, add to the subtle charm of this graceful plant. Though some species are native to Europe, Korea, and Japan, many are native to North America.

The tallest species, great Solomon’s seal (P. biflorum commutatum, or alternately P. commutatum), appears surprisingly elegant in its natural woodland habitat, most midwestern and eastern states as far south as Louisiana to Georgia. Where leaf mold is deep and moisture is sufficient, stems will grow toward the light in 5-foot arches. In such locations, one plant may spread several feet across, so choose neighboring plants that will be in scale. It’s hardy throughout USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9.

Other species are more modest in size but retain the same graceful form. Small Solomon’s seal (P. biflorum) grows 20 to 30 inches tall. It naturally grows over a similar range as great Solomon’s seal, and according to Miriam Patton, a naturalist in northwest Iowa, it is still common in deciduous woodlands throughout the state. Although small Solomon’s seal is just as cold-hardy (through zone 3) as its larger cousin, it is somewhat less heat-tolerant, so it’s only recommended through zone 8.

Two useful Asiatic species are P. humile and the variegated Solomon’s seal, P. odoratum ‘Variegatum’ (alternately P. o. thunbergii ‘Variegatum’). The former grows only 6 to 9 inches tall, making it a useful ground cover in shade. It is hardy from zones 4 through 9. Variegated Solomon’s seal has creamy white leaf edges and dark maroon stems. This native of Japan is grown in gardens throughout this country.

Growing Solomon’s Seal

Many garden centers offer plants, as do wildflower and perennial catalogs. Plants readily establish themselves, but patience is necessary to grow plants from seed.

At Garden in the Woods, the botanic garden of the New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, Massachusetts, several species of Solomon’s seal are propagated by seed and by division of rhizomes (enlarged underground stems that resemble roots). In the first season after planting seed, a small rhizome forms underground, but no growth is visible above the surface of the soil. The next year, a single leaf is visible, and in the third year, the typical curving stem appears with leaves.

Starting from seed. If you choose to try starting the plants from seed, Bill Cullina, propagator at Garden in the Woods, recommends picking a few berries when they have turned blue-black. Clean the pulp off the seeds, and plant them at once in a flat where they can be left for two years or more and watered as needed to keep them from drying out. Cullina keeps them in cold frames. Because Solomon’s seal seeds should be planted soon after harvesting for best germination, he does not recommend buying seeds by mail.

Propagating the plants. You can also divide the branched rhizomes to propagate more plants. Very early in spring before the growing tips appear, dig and separate the rhizomes. Any piece that contains a growing point will grow if the piece is several inches long. Shorter ones are better left attached to a larger rhizome. The rhizomes store enough food and water that they often survive dry spells that cause some other plants to perish. Replant the rhizomes at a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Division may also be done later in the season. Don’t worry if the leafy stem breaks off, but don’t expect new growth before the next year.

Growing Solomon’s seal in varied conditions. Though a moist, shady location is preferred for Solomon’s seal, most kinds except P. humile are adaptable enough to be grown successfully in hot, dry climates, if gardeners are attuned to the plants’ needs. In high-desert areas of Idaho and Utah, where August brings strong, dry winds and temperatures over 100°F for up to two weeks, creating a garden of woodland plants requires the use of soaker hoses, fences for shade and windbreak, and a mulch that will not blow away.

Garnette Monnie, owner of Edwards Greenhouse in Boise, Idaho, says, “Even more than heat, the alkaline soil is a problem for some perennials.” She recommends amending the soil with peat moss or with finely ground pine bark. Anju Lucas, who grows perennials for Edwards, adds compost containing horse and goat manures to Solomon’s seal in her own garden. Ferns succumb to the hot wind, but Solomon’s seal survives. She confirms: “It’s very adaptable.” When soil is alkaline (pH higher than 7.5), other gardeners use shredded oak leaves mixed with compost, grow the plants in raised beds, and add iron sulfate for acidity.

Near Portland, Oregon, Solomon’s seal grows well in soil with a pH of 5.0 to 5.9. Robyn Duback, owner of Robyn’s Nest Nursery in Vancouver, Washington, suggests letting colonies of the taller kinds build up as a background for other shade perennials. However, low-growing P. humile is more susceptible to slug and snail damage than are other Solomon’s seals, most of which are not injured by slugs. Duback prefers not to plant Solomon’s seal in creekside gardens where slugs may abound.

Companion Plants

Goldie’s wood fern (Dryopteris goldiana, zones 3 through 8) and ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris, zones 3 through 7) are large, sturdy ferns whose curving fronds complement great Solomon’s seal. Geranium maculatum, a hardy wild geranium with mauve-pink flowers, is native to eastern and midwestern woods, but it is easy to grow in any moist shade garden where Solomon’s seal thrives. If you aren’t focusing strictly on native American plants, also consider G. sylvaticum ‘Mayflower’, a variety from England, with flowers of violet-blue around white centers.

Leaves of variegated Solomon’s seal are most distinct in front of a dark background. For a trouble-free background shrub, try Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’ (zones 4 through 8) with dark blue-green leaves and fuzzy, creamy white flower clusters. In 1994, this plant received a gold medal from the Georgia Plant Selections Committee for its appealing features and adaptability to various soils and climates.

White-flowered plants can create an engaging composition with variegated Solomon’s seal. Choices to try include Astilbe arendsii ‘White Gloria’, white impatiens, Phlox stolonifera ‘Bruce’s White’, and Pulmonaria officinalis ‘Sissinghurst White’.

Ferns’ airy compound leaves make an interesting contrast with the smooth leaves of Solomon’s seal. Plant it with groups of low-growing ferns (8 to 12 inches) like the fringed lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina ‘Fancy Fronds’) and Japanese painted fern (A. niponicum ‘Pictum’), which are hardy in zones 4 through 8. Slightly taller maidenhair ferns (Adiantum aleuticum and A. pedatum), reaching about 18 inches, are also good companions.

Photography by Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Solomon’s Seal

Solomon’s seal is a classic shade garden plant that adds an architectural component to garden beds, thanks to its arching stems. In spring, these stems become lined with small, bell-shaped white blooms on the undersides. These blossoms later give way to blue-black berries that are adored by wildlife. The spreading and clumping habit of this plant makes a great tall groundcover.

genus name
  • Polygonatum
light
  • Part Sun,
  • Shade
plant type
  • Perennial
height
  • Under 6 inches,
  • 6 to 12 inches,
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • Up to 2 feet
flower color
  • Green,
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Colorful Fall Foliage
problem solvers
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Fragrance,
  • Good for Containers,
  • Cut Flowers
zones
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9
propagation
  • Division,
  • Seed

Garden Plans For Solomon’s Seal

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Colorful Combinations

These plants, with their clean green foliage, make great backdrops for other perennials in the garden. New sprouts of Solomon’s seal emerge in early spring and are ornamental in their own right. Emerging shoots hold their leaves tightly against their new stalks, creating playful wands. In some varieties, this new growth is flushed gray purple, creating an even greater sight.

There are very few flower colors of Solomon’s seal—the most common is white with green tips. A few obscure species offer unique bloom colors, such as purple, pink, or orange. The flowers are often pleasantly fragrant. Once flowers have finished blooming, berries soon take their place. These berries begin green and age to purple-blue, then turn black in color. They are poisonous to humans, but birds delight in eating them.

See more of the best early spring flowers for the Midwest.

Soloman’s Seal Care Must-Knows

Solomon’s seal are pretty easy plants to grow. Solomon’s seal plants like dappled shade, rich and organic soils, and plenty of moisture—think woodland plants. Once they are established, they can survive short droughts fairly well. During longer dry periods, however, they do appreciate a good drink of water.

When it comes to exposure, these are plants that do best in part sun, especially sheltered from hot afternoon sun. Because of their love of shade, these plants are often found growing under shade trees. They can take full shade as well, but may be a little bit looser in habit. Solomon’s seal has wonderfully golden fall color, and this shows best in part sun.

Solomon’s seal are steady growers and can form dense colonies of plants over the years. These plants spread by underground stems called rhizomes. Rhizomes can be divided in early spring or fall to create more plants. Simply dig up the plants and carefully separate or cut apart rhizomes, leaving several growing points on each division. This makes these plants easy to contain if you don’t want them spreading too much.

A Collector’s Plant

Most gardeners do not know that there is a whole world of little-known types of Solomon’s seal that make fantastic garden plants. A number of different variegated selections are truly unique, and large variety of plant sizes are available. You can find dwarf forms that are less than 6 inches tall and varieties up to 12 feet tall! These varieties cost a pretty penny and typically aren’t found at commercial garden centers.

More Varieties of Soloman’s Seal

Common Solomon’s seal

Polygonatum x hybridum has gently arching stems with dangling pairs or clusters of cream flowers in late spring. The stout rhizomes are drought tolerant and colonize well. It may reach 5 feet tall. Zones 3-8

Variegated fragrant Solomon’s seal

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ has creamy-edged alternate leaves, and usually pairs of hanging creamy bells. It may grow 3 to 4 feet tall, is very drought tolerant, and is hardy in Zones 3-8

Plant Solomon’s Seal With:

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Perfect for cottage and woodland gardens, old-fashioned columbines are available in almost all colors of the rainbow. Intricate little flowers, they are commonly a combination of red, peach, and yellow but also blues, whites, pure yellows, and pinks; they look almost like folded paper lanterns. Columbines thrive in sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Plants tend to be short-lived but self-seed readily, often creating natural hybrids with other nearby columbines. If you want to prevent self-seeding, deadhead plants after bloom.

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Solomons Seal

Solomons Seal are native to woodlands in North America, and can often be found growing in the wild.

This is a hardy and well adapted plant which will give you very little trouble.

It is a relative of the Lily of the Valley, and its flowers greatly resemble those of that plant in shape and fragrance.

With its graceful arching branches, exquisite white flowers shaped like little bells and tipped with yellow or green, the Solomons Seal plant is just the thing for your garden to usher in each new spring season.

The name originates from a mark where the stem rises out of the plant’s rhizome that can often look like two interlocked triangles, the legendary ‘Star of David’ and the symbol of Solomon.

The stems can grow up to four feet high and look extremely attractive with their blue green leaves, each over six inches in length. These leaves will turn golden yellow in autumn, and at that time the plant will have blue berries.

As this is a woodland flower, you should try to re-create its native environment to grow it successfully – but that’s not really difficult.

All plants have a tendency to flourish and spread given the right conditions for their growth.

Choosing a plant that is native to your climate is much better than attempting to grow some sub-tropical plant in conditions that are just not right for its growth.

Growing Conditions

To grow Solomons Seal, all you need to do is provide it with a rich humus-laden soil and sufficient, though not excessive, moisture.

Leaf compost is excellent for providing the organic components that it needs, especially as it replicates conditions on a forest floor so accurately. As leaves from deciduous trees fall to the floor and begin to rot, they form the kind of soil where plants like Solomon’s Seal can thrive.

Remember the soil needs to be kept moist, but it must never be marsh-like.

Propagation

Solomon’s Seal is easily obtained from nurseries and garden centres. Don’t ‘steal’ the plant from a wild habitat as this detracts from the natural beauty of the country.

Propagation by Division

Whether you plant rhizomes or transplants, planting is best done in the spring or in the fall.
If you attempt to grow from seeds, its seeds can sometimes take two years to germinate.

When you plant transplants or rhizomes, put them into the soil to a depth of two inches, and space them about three inches apart.

Propagate by division about every three years or so. It is a rather slow grower so have patience.

Aspect, Planting, and Care

Locate in partial to deep shade. Putting them under trees, or in the shadow of a house, hedge or wall, it will protect them from the sun during the hottest part of the day.

These plants are survivors and will not die easily once established. However, you will have to care for them until they are established being careful to not let the soil dry out.

Mulch over winter, the plant is very hardy and will usually survive winters that are not overwhelmingly harsh.

The berries are very attractive in their own right, don’t ‘deadhead’ the flowers or the berries will not form.

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Summary

Solomon’s Seal is a relative of lily-of-the-valley, resembling the dainty fragrant bell shaped flowers. The long arching stems ranging from 3 to 4 feet are the main attraction. The leaves start half way up the stem and continue to the end. They are a rich deep green to bluish green and grow to 7 inches long.

The flowers are white with a yellow to green tips, which dangle down under the foliage. In autumn or fall the leaves turn a bright yellow and it bears blue-black berries.

While this wonderful flower for shade gardening will grow in just about any soil, even dry soil, it will do much better in a good composted, humus rich well drained soil. Add leaf mold before planting and keep on the moist side.

There are several species to choose from. I’m partial to the variegated, with its creamy white edges (P. odoratum Variegatum). The P. commutatum (Great Solomon’s Seal) has yellow flowers and grows to 6 feet. And let’s not forget Fragrant Solomon’s Seal with its captivating fragrance.

When first planted loosen the soil, add compost and keep moist until well established. This shade tolerant flower likes a light and loose type of soil.

If you like long arching stems, this is the plant for you. Other names include Saint Mary’s Seal and Lady’s Seal.

Flower Shade Gardening

Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum: “Shady Savior”

As a garden designer, I am often asked to recommend plants that are foolproof, black-thumb proof, and low-maintenance. As well as beautiful, of course! A constructive conversation about real-life plant care usually follows. But if the garden under discussion happens to enjoy shade (often seen as a curse), there is a perennial that comes to the rescue, every time: Solomon’s seal checks all those boxes. Polygonatum is a shining shade garden star.

Continue reading to learn how to grow Solomon’s seal, and what you can expect in return.

Photography by Marie Viljoen unless otherwise noted.

Above: Solomon’s seal is the high-performing savior of gardens where shade defines the growing conditions.

With species native to several continents, including North America, the various varieties and cultivars of the Polygonatum genus have in common their distinctively arching stems and delicately pendulous spring flowers. They add an effortless and graceful structure to gardens, as well as significant seasonal variation and interest.

Above: Photograph by Elizabeth via Flickr.

The first shoots appear in early spring, growing from the substantial rhizomes that have overwintered beneath the soil. Over time Solomon’s seal can form dense, textural colonies. After they are established, it is a good idea to divide the clumps every few years to control their spread.

Above: Photograph by Wplynn via Flickr.

Several weeks later the stalks have grown lush and thigh high. Ivory flowers, frilled with a flared green skirt, hang delicately in scented bells from the bowed stems. They persist for weeks. The blooms are irresistible to early spring bees.

Above: Smooth Solomon’s seal is Polygonatum biflorum and occurs natively in North America east of the Rockies. It has solid green leaves and flowers hanging in pairs (biflorum is horticultural speak for “two flowers”).

Unlike many spring flowering plants, which begin to look peaky as summer progresses, Solomon’s seal remains handsome all season long, its stalks firm, its leaves perfect. Cut the stems to add to garden bouquets all year long.

Above: Photograph by Abby via Flickr.

Variegated Solomon’s seal is of Asian origin. Polygonatum odoratum f. variegatum is a long mouthful for the elegant plant, whose white-streaked leaves brighten shady corners.

Above: Photograph by JardinsLeeds via Flickr.

There is even a tiny form of Solomon’s seal for petite gardens, rock gardens, or for the very front of beds: Polygonatum humile tops out at about eight inches and its stems are more upright than its tall cousins’.

Above: Photograph by Klasse im Garten via Flickr.

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