Fragrant Solomon’s Seal

In the last two weeks besides being asked what to do about Japanese beetles I am getting bombarded with questions about what to plant in the shade besides hosta.  True enough there are only so many different types of green hosta that you can plant in the shade and this is where Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’) comes to the rescue.

Solomon’s seal is a rhizomatous perennial that belongs in the asparagus family with many being native to the region.  I consider this plant a triple threat.  It is tolerant to dry shade, full sun, and wet soils.  What more could you ask for in a perennial?  It is a creeper so it will spread with maturity but it will not take over the garden.  Reaching about 18″ tall this variegated form offers spring blooms that are attractive to many native pollinators and give away to hanging grape-like fruit .

The only downside to this plant is hot summers.  This is Nebraska after all and it could get some scorch with excessive heat.  Also, many herbalist use this plant for remedies and if not properly prepared it could cause some abdominal discomfort so we would suggest not consuming it.

If you are looking for something different than a fern or a hosta for shade or need something for your rain garden check out the fragrant Solomon’s seal – you might be pleasantly surprised.


Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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