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Plant of the Week: Variegated Solomon's Seal

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not promote, support or recommend plants featured in "Plant of the Week." Please consult your local Extension office for plants suitable for your region.

Plant of the Week

Variegated Solomon's Seal
Latin: Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'

Picture of Variegated Solomon's Seal plants showing yellow-edged foliage.

Shade in the garden is often viewed as a disadvantage, but that is a short-sighted view because without shade, it would be impossible to grow the truly beautiful variegated Solomon’s Seal.

This herbaceous perennial grows up to two feet tall with gracefully arching stems that are produced from the densely branched rhizomatous root system. The root system has the capacity to form large colonies. The leaves grow up to four inches long and are bordered with a wide white margin that makes it glow in a shady site in the garden.

In May, one-inch long drooping white flowers are produced in pairs under the stem at the juncture of each leaf, creating a delicate, but easily missed, floral display. The fruits, if they form, are a series of single-seeded blue-black berries that follow in June. Solomon’s Seals are members of the lily family, with this species native to Japan.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal is one of the five plants chosen as a 1999 Arkansas Select plant. The Arkansas Select plants were chosen from the group of plants nominated by experts across the state such as nurserymen, greenhouse producers and university and extension personnel. These plants were judged to do well across the state, to be relatively underused in gardens and to be pest free. All five Arkansas Select plants will be available from most Arkansas greenhouses and nurseries this spring at the appropriate planting season.

The name "Solomon’s Seal" is taken from the shape of the scar on the rhizome where the stem attaches. In some species this scar takes the shape of two overlapped triangles, which is the symbol King Solomon, ruler of Israel from 961 to 931 BC, took to symbolize the union of body and soul. The plants have been used for a number of applications in herbal medicine.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal is easily grown in reasonably fertile soil in the shade garden. Plants benefit from the presence of some organic matter in the soil.

It also does well on the north side of a house if no shade trees are available. While quite tolerant of drought once established, the plants should be watered their first year after planting to ensure good establishment. It makes an excellent companion plant with Hosta and other shade perennials. Be patient with this beauty because it may take several years for the colony to form sufficient size to show the beauty the plant has to provide.

By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - March 26, 1999


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing area.