Solomon's seal is a graceful native woodland plant that slowly forms large colonies. The variegated form stands out from a distance and is much used by landscape architects.
Description of Solomon's seal: Solomon's seal is distinguished by its 18- to 24-inch-tall arching stems with alternate green leaves. Pendulous, white or creamy, bell-shaped flowers burst forth in spring. They hang down underneath the leaves and are subtly fragrant. The flowers are followed by 1-inch-diameter blue-black fruit in the summer.
How to grow Solomon's seal: Solomon's seal grows well in heavy or moderate shade in moist soil that is rich in organic matter. Keep soil moist by watering during dry periods in summer. Plants purchased at garden centers will probably look rather forlorn with a single, weak-looking stem arising from a large pot. Don't let this put you off -- buy it anyway and keep the soil around new plantings moist. Solomon's seal takes two years to get established, then it spreads readily by underground rhizomes. Be careful not to cultivate around the shallow-rooted plants because you can damage rhizomes that creep along -- or just below -- the surface of the soil.
Propagating Solomon's seal: By division in fall.
Uses for Solomon's seal: Naturalize in a woodland garden, or plant under shrubs and small trees. Solomon's seal mixes well with hosta, astilbe, and ferns but you may have to remove some of the plants occasionally to keep them from crowding neighbors. The foliage is excellent in flower arrangements.
Solomon's seal related variety: 'Variegatum' is the most attractive and most common variety. Soft green leaves have wide margins of creamy white. The variegation really brightens dark shade gardens.
Scientific name for Solomon's seal: Polygonatum odoratum