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Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum

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.

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Light:

Part Sun, Shade

Type:

Height:

Under 6 inches to 3 feet

Width:

Up to 2 feet

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

3-9

Propagation

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:

Bleeding heart
It's easy to see the origin of bleeding heart's common name when you get a look at its heart-shape pink or white blooms with a protruding tip at the base of the heart. They grow best in partial to full shade in moist, well-drained soil. Some types bloom only in spring and others bloom spring, summer, and fall, provided temperatures aren't too high.
Lungwort
In early spring, the brilliant blue, pink, or white flowers of lungwort bloom despite the coldest chill. The rough basal leaves, spotted or plain, always please and continue to be handsome through the season and into winter. Planted close as a weed-discouraging groundcover, or in borders as edgings or bright accent plants, lungworts are workhorses and retain their good looks. Provide high-humus soil that retains moisture. Although lungwort tolerates dry conditions, be alert for mildew.
Columbine
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.
Coralbells
Exciting new selections with incredible foliage patterns have put coralbells on the map. Previously enjoyed mainly for their spires of dainty reddish flowers, coralbells are now grown as much for the unusual mottling and veining of different-color leaves. The low clumps of long-stemmed evergreen or semi-evergreen lobed foliage make coralbells fine groundcover plants. They enjoy humus-rich, moisture-retaining soil. Beware of heaving in areas with very cold winters.
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