Favorite Flora: Variegated Solomon’s Seal

Announcing the 2013 Perennial of the Year

Variegated Solomon’s seal  (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)

Variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)

By Debra Knapke

A shady garden: a place where you go on a hot day to settle into cool-ness and calm-ness; a place to catch your breath.  This year the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) has chosen one of my favorite shade-loving perennials, variegated Solomon’s seal, as its Perennial of the Year.

As a member of the PPA, I get to vote on a selection of plants that have been nominated by members.   Criteria for selection are straightforward.  Each nominee should have low-maintenance requirements, be relatively pest- and disease-free, have several seasons of interest and be a good garden plant for a range of climates.

Variegated Solomon’s seal  fulfills these criteria.  Irregular creamy-white leaf edges add to the textural presence of this plant.  In April delicate, paired white bells line the stem and in the fall the leaves turn a pale gold.  Polygonatum odoratum Variegatum massing resize

This cultivar does not produce fruit.  In moist, rich soils, variegated Solomon’s seal can spread freely.  In 3-5 years you can have a clump that is 24-36” wide.  As to maintenance, I do nothing to this plant other than to spread some compost in the early spring and cut stems to bring inside for flower arrangements.   In the fall the stems lay down after a hard frost and whatever is left in spring is covered by the new growth.  Thus far, the deer have not put it on their menu – I have 5-7 deer that check my garden year round and I am well-aware of what they eat.

Below are all of the Perennial Plants of the Year since the beginning of the program in 1990.  Here you can see a list of tried and true plants that have become the backbone of the herbaceous plant palette.

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