May: Solomon's Seal

The world of shade perennials is much wider than hostas, and Solomon's Seal is a shade plant superstar. With arching stems, white leaf edges that light up the shade, almost hidden, subtly fragrant flowers, and a golden yellow fall color, it's no surprise that this is a favorite in shade gardens.

Some species of Solomon's Seal are native to the US, but the most commonly sold variety with the white leaf edges is originally from Europe. It is still well-behaved and pollinator-friendly though. Solomon's Seal spreads slowly by horizontal roots to form a dense colony and is easily divided to distribute around your property or to share with friends and neighbors. It's suitable for both formal and informal gardens, and it also works well to naturalize in wooded areas.

 Photo by Maria Gulley

Photo by Maria Gulley

Common Name: Solomon's Seal
Scientific Name: Polygonatum species and varieties
Notable Varieties: Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum' (white edges on leaves)
Light: partial to full shade
Size: 18-30"; slowly spreads by underground stems to fill the desired area, but can be maintained in a specific area
Soil: tolerates clay soil and both wet and dry conditions
Blooms: pairs of white flowers hang down from the stem in April or May
Other Notes: flowers are lightly fragrant

See other plants of the month.


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