How to Grow and Care for a Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum, also known as King Solomon's Seal or Solomon's Seal, is a close relative of the Lily of the Valley, with several similar species that are native to North America, northern Europe, and Siberia, and cultivated as popular garden ornamentals. The hardy perennial has stems of 3 feet (90 cm) in height that finally curve gracefully and bear pale green, oval leaves and drooping clusters of creamy white flowers, followed by blue-black berries.

Solomon's Seal plants are an excellent choice for woodland or shade gardens and for using as background plantings with hardy ferns. They look great when planted in large containers. Solomon's Seal plants are usually grown from rhizomes, which should be planted 2 inches (5 cm) deep in the spring or fall.

Solomon's Seal has a rich history that goes back many thousands of years. Herbalists and healers, both in Europe and North America and the Far East, have written about its diverse effects on numerous conditions. It can be used as a herbal tincture, salve, tea, or supplement. As an alternative remedy, it may offer relief, healing or mending to sports injuries and other conditions related to tendons, joints, ligaments, bones, bruises, connecting tissues, cartilage, etc. It also soothes and repairs gastrointestinal inflammation and injuries. It is effective for feminine issues, such as menstrual cramps, PMS, bleeding, and the like. Additionally, it is known to lower blood pressure and relieve dry coughs.

Solomon's Seal
Photo via issinghurstcastle.wordpress.com

Growing Conditions

Plants are usually started by transplants or rhizomes. Seeds of Polygonatum can take up to 2 years to sprout so that you will get some seeding in established plantings.

Solomon's Seal likes fertile organic soil with a pH in the acidic to the neutral zone. They need some shade to thrive truly. The damp shade is even better, although once established, they are quite a drought-tolerant. Plants can be started in the spring or fall. Plant only 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) deep and about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) apart.

General Care

Solomon's Seal seldom needs division. It takes several years before a clump is large enough to divide for propagation purposes. When ready, divide in early spring or fall and leave several buds on each division, for the best success. The rhizomes can be divided even further, but it will take longer for them to become established. Another option is to remove and plant just the offsets at the out edges of a clump.

Solomon's Seal does not require deadheading. The flowers are small and will drop off naturally. The foliage remains attractive all season, so the plant is virtually maintenance-free. The stems even disconnect from the rhizomes on their own, after frost. But before that, the foliage turns a beautiful golden yellow.

Pests and Diseases

Healthy Solomon's Seal growing in good conditions seem to have few problems. If the weather is extremely damp, you may see signs of powdery mildew or another fungal disease. These should ameliorate as things dry out. Better air circulation will also help. Slugs and snails can also become a problem in damper areas.

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