Variegated Solomon Seal, Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’, is a favorite in my shade garden…though, if you know me, you know I have a lot of favorites. Tough as it is beautiful, it is a stalwart in many gardens, lending its graceful, arching foliage and fragrant, bell-shaped white blooms to the early spring palette.
Though it tolerates drought once established and will slowly form large colonies of plants, it’s happiest in dappled light and moist soil. The spot mine are in is along a dry riverbed that is definitely quite moist during periods of rain but also can be very dry in the summer.
Other happy companions in this area include: Autumn ferns, dryopteris erythrosora; Southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum cappilaris; various hostas; a ground cover strawberry begonia, Saxifrage stolonifera; Acorus; blue woodland phlox, Phlox divaricata, that has seeded itself; forget-me-nots, myosotis sempervirens; a calla lily; hydrangeas; Virginia sweetspire; and more that like this shady area.
The height of variegated solomon’s seal is around 2′ tall, spreading indefinitely where it’s happy. The white, bell-shaped flowers will bloom until late spring, and fall brings beautiful, blue-black pendulous berries that hang downward along the stems. The arching foliage is also very lovely in flower arrangements. Really, what more can one ask for in a perennial plant?
The Perennial Plant Association named Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year, calling it “a classic beauty for the shady woodland garden or the part-shade to full shade border.”