Polygonatum

Polygonatum

Grown for its gently arching stems of glossy green foliage, which drip with delicate white or pink flowers, from spring to early summer.

Family: Asparagaceae
Botanical Name: Polygonatum
Common Names: Solomon's seal, King Solomon's-seal

Foliage: Deciduous. Long ovate glossy, light green, leaves on gently arching stems. Variegated forms are available.
Flowers: Pendent, tubular or bell-shaped creamy-white flowers (often fragrant) which appear along its arching stems. Usually followed by black or red berries.
Flowering Period: Late spring.
Soil: Moist but well-drained, humus-rich, fertile soil. Chalk, clay, sand or loam. Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions
: Sun, partial shade or dense shade, in any aspect. Shelter from strong winds.
Habit: Spreading/branched.
Type: Rhizomatous herbaceous perennials.
Hardiness: H7 (fully hardy throughout the UK).
Origin: Native to northern USA, Europe and Asia.
Toxicity: all parts (including berries) contain an irritant and may cause severe discomfort if ingested.

Planting and Growing Polygonatum

A woodland plant that grows best in partial shade and enjoys a moist but well-drained soil. The plant's ornamental architectural foliage contrasts well with other plants in a mixed border.

Plant out from late autumn to early spring. Site in a partially shaded position, with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Needs very little care and attention once established.

Ideal for shaded flower beds and borders or as under planting for tall shrubs. The stems are excellent as Cut Flowers.

Taking Care of Polygonatum

Pruning Polygonatum

Cut down to the base in late autumn. Lift and divide mature clumps in early spring to maintain vigour.

Pests and Diseases

Generally disease free. Susceptible to attack by aphids and sawflies. Sawfly can strip these plants bare very quickly, so regularly check the underside of leaves for grubs in spring/summer.

Propagating Polygonatum

Propagate by division in spring. Take care not to damage young shoots, which are very brittle.

Polygonatum biflorum

Polygonatum biflorum

Popular Varieties of Polygonatum Grown in the UK

Most varieties are easy to grow and will do well in a shady spot where little else will grow. Small forms are also suitable for shady areas in the rock garden.

P. X hybridum (P. multiflorum) drooping clusters of green-tipped white flowers, borne on arching stems among light-green pointed leaves. Grows in virtually any situation so long as its roots are in the shade.

Polygonatum × hybridum 'Striatum' has undulating leaves striped with cream. Height 2ft (60cm), spread 1ft (30cm)

P. odoratum (angled Solomon’s seal) has drooping fragrant white flowers with greenish tips.

P. hookeri slow growing dense ground covering with small mid-green leaves and small lilac-pink flowers, height 2in (5cm) spreads about 1ft (30cm). Suitable for growing in a rock garden and bears solitary, erect flowers.

P. biflorum var. commutatum (P. giganteum) height 6ft (2m) does best in fertile moist soil. Greenish white drooping flowers, up to 0.5in (1.5cm) long, are borne on long stems of oval leaves that have a distinctive bluish underside.

Polygonatum falcatum 'Variegatum' has green foliage variegated with creamy white margins. Stems are slightly flushed with red.

P. verticillatum (whorled Solomon’s seal) has narrow pendent, bell-shaped, greenish white flowers from early summer. Mid green narrow leaves. Height 3ft (1m), spread 1.5ft (45cm).

Polygonatum verticillatum 'rubrum' has pink-tinged shoots and dusky pink bell-shaped flowers.