The gracefully arching stems of the Solomon's Seal are a sure sign of spring. The white, bell-shaped blooms which dangle in twos and threes from the bottom of the stems in May turn into blue-black berries later in the season. Some varieties grow as wildflowers in the North American woodlands; all prefer shade and moist soil. The plant spreads by rhizomes to form colonies. Solomon's Seal is hardy in Zones 3 to 9 and is largely untroubled by any pests or disease.
The name Solomon's Seal is derived from the shape of the scar where the stem attaches to the rhizome. In some species this looks like two overlapping triangles, which was a symbol of the union of body and soul to King Solomon of the Bible.
Don't dig Solomon's Seal from the wild; they are easily available from garden centers and mail order nurseries.
Plant transplants or rhizomes in the spring or fall. Seeds can take up to two years to sprout. Place transplants or rhizomes only 1 or 2 inches deep and about 2 to 3 inches apart.
Plant in full or partial shade. You can plant them on the north side of your house if you have no trees to provide shade.
Provide moist soil with added organic matter. Solomon's Seal plants are quite drought tolerant once established, but will require some water while young.
Provide a light mulch if desired. The plant has no specific needs for overwintering provided it is planted correctly.
Don't deadhead the flowers or you will lose the attractive berries.
Plant at least three together; Solomon's Seal looks best when grown in groups. Be patient in waiting for the plant to multiply. It may take several years for a few plants to form a colony.
Partner Solomon's Seal with other shade-loving perennials such as hosta, pulmonaria and bleeding heart.
Plant the variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum falcatum 'Variegatum') for added interest; its beautiful creamy-edged leaves light up a shade garden all season long. The variegated form is somewhat shorter, so place it closer to the front of the border.
Use Polygonatum commutatum or Great Solomon's Seal, which grows up to 3 to 5 feet, if you are looking for a tall stately plant.
Divide the rhizomes to make new plants in the spring or fall. Make sure there are several buds on each division. This plant rarely needs division, so you only need to do this if you want to start plants in another area.
About this Author
Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.