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Polygonatum (poh-lig-oh-NAY-tum)

Common Name:  Solomon's seal

Light:  - Part shade to full shade

Soil:  Humus-rich, moist but well-drained, woodland

Moisture:  Average

Blooms:  Early summer

Zones:  3 - 8


Polygonatum o. 'Variegatum'

Polygonatum Description and Cultural Information

There are several species of Polygonatum (Solomon's Seal). All prefer a cool, shady location in humus rich, moist soil. They will tolerate some drought but may not perfrom well in a hot, dry location. They grow about 2" below the soil, spreading to form a colony and are beautiful in mass plantings.

Solomon's Seal produces flowers and purple berries along and below the stem at eash leaf axil. This is how you can differentiate it from False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina) which flowers at the tip of each stem.

Polygonatum biflorum, smooth Solomon's seal. 18 - 24". This US native has smooth green leaves and dangling white flowers on arching stems. It is commonly found in shady woodland conditions. It isn't quite as aggressive as other plants in this genus and can often be overtaken by undesirable woodland invasives. Zones 3 - 9.

Polygonatum commutatum, giant Solomon's seal. 5 - 6'. Another US native plant, it grows in moist, shady conditions along bogs and streams. In poor soil it is only slightly taller than its cousins, but in rich, moist soil it can get to be very tall. Zones 4 - 9.

Polygonatum falcatum, Japanese Solomon's seal. 24 - 36". This native of Japan is distinguished by its pointed leaves and reddish stems. The variegated form, 'Variegatum', is common in cultivation and worth growing. Zones 4 - 9.

Polygonatum odoratum, fragrant Solomon's seal. 18 - 24". A native of Europe and Asia, this plant has angled stems and pointed, upright leaves and fragrant white flowers. The variegated form, 'Variegatum', is very desirable in the woodland garden, is very easy to grow, and many consider it the best form of Solomon's seal. Zones 4 - 9.

How to Grow:  Solomon's seal grows easily in any cool, rich soil. It will perform very well in the moist woodland shade garden but will also grow in somewhat dry conditions so long as it is shady and the soil has good nutrient levels. Plants can be lifted and divided easily in the fall every few years if needed for propagation or to control their spread, replanting the rhizomes horizontally about 2" below the soil.

Landscape uses:  Plant Polygonatum in the woodland garden with hostas, ferns, pulmonarias, bleeding hearts, tricyrtis, ligularia, rodgersia and other shade loving plants. It works very well in mass plantings or as a vertical accent among more mounded plant forms.

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