Variegated Solomon’s Seal: a great choice for shade

The lovely perennial Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum‘Variegatum’) has been named the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.

This graceful shade-lover is grown for its handsome all-season variegated foliage. It blooms in late spring with dangling white flowers tinted with a hint of green.

Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ in the garden

growing sunflowers

Photo: Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association

Variegated Solomon’s Seal spreads by rhizomes to form colonies, which make an effective ground-cover.

The clumps grow 18 to 24 inches tall and have an upright, arching form.

The variegated light green leaves have white margins and white tips; in the fall they turn an attractive yellow.

The small, fragrant, bell-shaped white flowers have green tips and hang attractively from arching stems.

How to grow:

Variegated Solomon’s Seal is perfect for a woodland garden or flower border in full or part-shade. It’s easy to grow, thriving in moist well-drained soil, and even in dry shade.

This perennial is rarely bothered by insects or disease and it will do grow well under walnut trees. Many sources consider Solomon’s Seal to be deer-resistant, although deer do sometimes do try it.

Solomon’s Seal is an excellent companion for other shade-lovers, such as astilbe, ferns, hostas, wild ginger, epimedium and pulmonaria. If you want more plants, established clumps are easy to divide, and you can do this either in early spring or early autumn.

A note about the common name: Solomon’s Seal is associated with John Gerard, an English botanist and herbalist, who believed that the plant’s dried and powdered roots could be an effective remedy for broken bones and thought it could also seal wounds.