Variegated Solomon's Seal

April 7, 2013 lawanda Newspaper Columns

The Perennial Plant Association has chosen Variegated Solomon’s Seal as its Perennial Plant of the Year for 2013.  It’s a plant for shady woodland gardens or for a border in part to full shade.  Morning sun is better than afternoon sun for this plant.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal grows 18-24 inches tall and has long oval leaves carried on upright, arching stems.  Spring foliage is purple-tinged and is followed by light green leaves framed with white tips and margins.  The white leaf edges and stems of varying heights result in an eye-pleasing, cascading, tiered effect.  In May and June, pairs of fragrant, tubular white flowers with green tips hang below the arching stems.

In fall, the leaves turn a pretty yellow and the flowers are replaced by bluish-black berries.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal prefers moist, but well-drained soil.  The white rhizomes (roots) should be planted just below the surface of the soil.  It can be divided in spring or fall.  Each plant covers a width of about 18-20 inches, but it will spread slowly on its own to form colonies.  No serious disease or insect pests plague this year’s winner.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal looks nice growing among other shade-loving plants like hostas, astilbes and ferns.  The variegated foliage adds a bit of light and sparkle to shady areas and also is lovely in flower arrangements.

You might find Variegated Solomon’s Seal sold under these names as well:  Striped Solomon’s Seal, Fragrant Solomon’s Seal and Variegated Fragrant Solomon’s Seal.  To be sure you are getting the right plant, check that the Latin name is Polygonatu odoratum ‘Variegatum.’     A search of mail order nurseries showed the cost for one plant to range from $8 to $18.

Solomon’s Seal is an unusual plant name.  It gets its name from its jointed rootstalk or rhizome.  When the leaf stalk breaks away from the rhizome, it leaves a scar said to resemble the official seal of King Solomon.

      Have you been wondering how a plant gets elected Perennial Plant of the Year?  Perennial Plant Association members vote each summer on the following year’s plant.  At that time, each member is allowed to nominate two plants for future consideration.  Then a committee reviews the nominated plants, which may number 400, and narrows the field to three or four perennials to be placed on the ballot.

Plant nominees need to satisfy the following criteria:  suitable for a wide range of climates, low-maintenance, relatively pest-free and disease resistant, multiple seasons of ornamental interest, and it must be readily available at garden centers the year it is elected.

It looks like the PPA members have chosen another winner this year!


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