Solomon’s seal is probably my all-time favorite plant for shade gardens, whether it’s in bloom or not. Here’s how to grow this amazing plant!
Solomon’s seal and I have a long history. We had some growing in our little townhouse garden and I was just fascinated by the arching growing pattern of its green leaves and tiny, dangling white flowers in the late spring. We had a neighbour at the time who was an absolutely amazing gardener and she told me that she had actually divided her own plant and given a clump to the previous owner of the home and that’s how that Solomon’s seal came to be growing in my garden. When we moved to our new house over a decade ago, I knew I needed to find a shady little spot for some Solomon’s seal. I searched all our local garden centres for years whenever I was there, but never came across any, but my love of this plant never went away. Finally, I realized that my new neighbour actually had some growing in her garden and I just asked her if she would mind giving me a little clump and she happily obliged. Fellow gardeners are always so generous that way, aren’t they? 🙂 It’s now thriving beautifully in my garden, so I thought I’d talk a little about it today for anyone else who would love to have this plant in their garden. Here’s how to start growing Solomon’s seal!
Where to Buy Solomon’s Seal
Although this is a pretty commonly known flowering shade plant, and easy to spot with its stunning arching stems, I had a really hard time finding it in the perennial sections of my local garden centre. For years, I kept thinking that surely I was just missing it and I just had to remember to look for it the next time I was in the garden centre and it would be right there waiting for me, probably next to the hostas or something. And yet, I never found a single plant. If you run into the same problem, honestly, just order it online. You can also look it up under the name “polygonatum biflorum” if you happen to be searching a very fancy nursery that doesn’t use a plant’s common name. 🙂 I just recently realized how easy it is to find good plant and bulb supply companies online and it’s like a whole new world has opened up for me. It used to be that I would look plants up and find that they weren’t available to order in Canada, but that’s just not the case anymore. I just discovered the joy of ordering from Breck’s recently and my experience with them has been great so far, especially for herbaceous perennials.
The only issue with buying plants online vs. buying them in a garden centre is that you might not necessarily be able to plant them right away. Online plant sellers will often ship plants out at only a specific time of year, usually during an optimal planting time, so you may have to wait a bit for your plants to ship out. If you’ve waited close to a decade though for your Solomon’s seal like I have, what’s a few more months? 🙂
The type pictured below is actually called “smooth Solomon’s seal”, but if you’re lucky enough to find variegated Solomon’s seal, make sure you grab it! I’ve only seen it in photos, but it looks extra beautiful.
When to Plant for Best Results
If you were lucky enough to find some plants in the garden centre, or if you were extra lucky like I was and a friend kindly gave you a clump from their garden, the best time to plant it is right away. Just like with most perennials, you can make it work anytime between early-spring and fall, you just may need to make an extra concerted effort to keep up with watering if you first planted your Solomon’s seal during the hotter months.
Ideally, if you can, the very best time to plant Solomon’s seal is when the leaves are just starting to poke up from the ground in the spring, or in the fall after things have cooled down a bit and the plant doesn’t have to survive long before going dormant. The plant will just adapt and get established a little more quickly and easily with both of these situations.
Best Locations in Your Garden for Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s seal does best anywhere in your garden that has shade or mostly shade. This plant is fairly happy with just about any soil type and will adapt to different, somewhat difficult growing conditions nicely in all spots that have full shade or part shade for most of the day. Too much sun will result in the sensitive leaves of the plant withering and drying out. While moist, well-drained soil is best for this plant, if there’s a particularly difficult spot in your yard where nothing really seems to thrive, plant some Solomon’s seal there are you might be surprised to find the new growth coming back the following year looking stronger and healthier than ever. They really are just a great easy-care perennial plant for any shade garden.
I have mine growing here with other shade loving plants like lily of the valley, deep-green and blue-green hostas, and a variegated ivy with pure white veining that I think will really play nicely off the Solomon’s seal’s bright white blooms once it spreads a bit more. A fern would look beautiful here too if I had a little more space. I think the best plants to pair it with are lower growing plants and ground covers in a woodland garden type of setting because its upright stems arch so gracefully and frame everything else out so well.
Other Notes for Growing My Favorite Shade Plant
If you planted your Solomon’s seal during the warmer months after the leaves were already out, or even after it has finished blooming for the year, you may notice some droopiness or withering of the leaves during the first weeks and months. While this might look like the plant is failing to become established, just keep up with your daily watering to help it establish its root systems during that first season and it will still come back fuller and healthier the following year.
The rules say that Solomon’s seal can and should be divided every two to three years for the health of the plant and to create more. This is one plant that I actually wouldn’t hesitate to divide yearly if you’d really like to create more plants quickly because it just recovers so well and increases in size so quickly every year. Once you get your plants established, they make beautiful cut flowers as well, so don’t forget to cut a few stems and bring them inside!
Do you have a Solomon’s seal plant in your garden? What growing tips have you discovered for this amazingly beautiful plant?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.