Solomon’s Seal is one of the most beautiful curious woodland wildflowers one may encounter while on a Spring or Summer hike. Beautiful smooth leaves neatly arranged, and complimented by dangling white bell-shaped flowers that are hidden underneath. This native flower is a real gem that can often be overlooked even though it’s foliage is lush and beautiful.
I always enjoy encountering Solomon’s Seal on hikes in the woods. Often in the Appalachian Mountains when you find one, there will be dozens and dozens – yet they are spaced out and not clustered.
There are several species of plants commonly referred to as Solomon’s Seal that are native to North America. This article will be a general guide for them, providing grow & care info as well as comparing and contrasting the minute differences.
In this article:
- What is Solomon’s Seal
- What are the benefits of Solomon’s Seal
- How to grow and care for Solomon’s Seal
- Propagating Solomon’s Seal
- Identification / Characteristics
- What Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases effect Solomon’s Seal
- Where to buy Solomon’s Seal
- Uses of Solomon’s Seal
- Final thoughts
What is Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s Seal is a herbaceous perennial native to North America. Scientifically known as Polygonatum spp., it grows 1-3′ tall in partial sun, it blooms small bell-shaped flowers that dangle under the foliage in late Spring to early Summer, lasting for approximately 3 weeks. It attracts various bees and even hummingbirds. 
Commonly found in woods with dappled sunlight or areas with partial sun, Solomon’s Seal colonizes areas by spreading via underground rhizomes. 
While there are over 60 members of the Polygonatum genus, but only 2 species and several varieties are native to North America. But I will focus on the most common types in this guide. All are very similar in appearance and are often each referred to as Solomon’s Seal.
- Polygonatum biflorum, known as Solomon’s Seal, or King’s Solomon’s Seal grows 6″-2′ tall (15cm-60 cm), and generally occurs in deep woods, forest edges, and open woods. It is the most common native Solomon Seal. 
- Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum, is known as Giant Solomon’s Seal is native to most of North America East of the Rocky Mountains. It grows roughly 2-3′ tall in part shade. This grows much larger than the more common Polygonatum biflorum.
- Polygonatum pubescens is known as Hairy Solomon’s Seal is a bit smaller, growing 1-2′ tall. The main feature distinguishing it from the more common Polygonatum biflorum is that the underside of the leaves have tiny white hairs.
Over time the botanical naming of this plant has changed several times, which can often add to confusion. But for most backyard gardeners, hikers, or nature lovers – Solomon’s Seal is a good enough name to describe this wonderful woodland wildflower. And going forward I will only refer to this plant as such.
Native Range of Solomon’s Seal
The Native Range of Solomon’s Seal goes from New Brunswick Canada to Florida, West to New Mexico, and North to Saskatchewan. It is a highly adaptable as long as the soil is well drained.
Solomon’s Seal Reference Table
|Scientific Name||Polygonaturm spp.|
|Common Name(s)||Solomon’s Seal, Smooth Solomon’s Seal, Giant Solomon’s Seal, Hairy Solomon’s Seal, King Solomon’s Seal, Solomons Seal|
|Native Range, USDA Zone||Eastern North America, USDA hardiness zones 3-8|
|Bloom Time||Late Spring-early Summer|
|Bloom Duration, Color||3-4 weeks, White|
|Height||1-3′ (30-90 cm)|
|Spacing / Spread||12-18″ (30-45 cm)|
|Light Requirements||Partial shade to full shade|
|Soil Types||Sandy loam to loam|
|Moisture||Slightly dry to moist soil, well drained|
|Fauna Associations / Larval Hosts||Bees, hummingbirds|
What are the Benefits of Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s seal is a flowering plant that can grow and bloom in full shade. And this is something that not many plants can do. Or if they do, they are often not showy, but Solomon’s seal is quite beautiful. 
The foliage of Solomon’s seal is elegant. The smooth, deeply veined leaves are quite beautiful.
The groups of white bell-shaped flowers dangling underneath the beautiful foliage make this a very interesting plant to examine.
The flowers will attract various bees and even hummingbirds. And these always add interest to a yard.
Grow and Care for Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s seal grows best in partial to full shade, which is less than six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you have a wooded lot, then Solomon’s seal is a natural choice for landscaping. 
For soil, Solomon’s Seal will prefer sandy loam to loam. The presence of organic matter will greatly help it, as this will help to retain moisture but allow drainage. So, adding compost when first planting, and regular top-dressing can be of benefit.
Due to it’s rhizomes, it will spread vegetatively. You may need to remove unwanted plants. However, in most wooded situations, this will not be a problem as more plants will add to the interest Solomon’s seal can provide.
Solomon’s Seal will not need supplemental fertilizer. But if the soil it grows in is of relatively new constructed home (<20 years), it may benefit from top-dressing of compost.
How to Propagate Solomon’s Seal
How to Grow Solomon’s Seal from Seed
Seed from Solomon’s Seal have what is known as a ‘double dormancy’ period. This means they need to experience a cold-moist period (winter), followed by a warm moist period (summer), followed by another cold-moist period before they will germinate. Because of this, most people don’t try to grow Solomon’s Seal from seed (I haven’t yet). 
Stratification of Solomon’s Seal seed
None the less, you can simulate these conditions by cleverly using a refrigerator in combination of a warm period. To do so, you need to follow my guide on stratification, and use the refrigerator and a warmer location that gets to be roughly 75-80F (I use the top of my water heater, but check the temp of your own first).
You can do this by soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours, then place them in a moist paper towel in a zip-lock bag into the fridge for 30 days. Then, remove and place them somewhere warm for 30 days, and then cold again for 30 days (or Winter Sow for the last cold stratification).
Planting Solomon’s Seal seed
Once stratification requirements have been met, plant the seed shallow 1/16″-1/8″ deep (1.5-3 mm). Seeds will germinate sometime the following Spring. Be patient. Seeds with difficult dormancy requirements often are slower to germinate.
Direct Sowing Solomon’s Seal seed
The challenging dormancy of Solomon’s Seal is a natural defense mechanism of the plant. By having the seeds lie dormant unless it experiences those conditions, it is ensuring that the plant will survive in a given location.
You can direct sow Solomon’s Seal seed by planting it in a location that is partially to full shaded and doesn’t completely dry out for extended periods of time. Know that the seed may not germinate for two to three years after planting.
Solomon’s Seal is a slow growing plant. It may take several years after germination before it flowers, as it is building up it’s rootstock.
Propagating Solomon’s Seal from division
By far the easiest way to propagate Solomon’s Seal is from division. It helps to plan ahead for how many plants you wish to have, and have small holes dug and ready before dividing a perennial.
In early Spring, just as new growth is emerging, use a spade to dig up the clump. Then, using a pruning saw or gardening knife, slice off a section of the rhizome. Plant this piece of rhizome in one of your prepared holes, and water.
Identification and Characteristics of Solomon’s Seal
The stem of Solomon’s Seal is an arching, smooth round stem that will grow up to 6′ long, but only be 2′ off the ground due to it’s arching nature. It will be round in shape and have an almost waxy coating.
Depending on the species, the leaves may clasp the stem (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum) or be attached with little to no stem (sessile) for other native species.
Small clusters (umbels) of flowers will hang from the axils of leaves, containing 2-5 flowers. Each flower will be 1/2-1″ long by 1/2″ diameter. They are white or cream colored and dangle from short 1″ long stems (penduncle). 
Flowering lasts for approximately 3 weeks. At the end of which a berry will form over the coming months that is roughly 3/8″ diameter (10 mm). Berries change from green to dark blue color.
Solomon’s Seal versus False Solomon’s Seal
There is another woodland flower that looks very similar to Solomon’s Seal, and often gets confused with it. False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) grows in almost the same conditions, has similar leaves, and is found in similar environments. But False Solomon’s Seal differs from Solomon’s Seal by it’s flowers.
False Solomon’s Seal will have a cluster of small flowers extending from it’s stalk, while Solomon’s Seal will have dangling bell-shaped flowers underneath the leaves. See the image below to see the main difference between these plants:
Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases associated with Solomon’s Seal
The flowers will attract bees and hummingbirds. Given this plant is often found in the forests, it is valuable to those local pollinator communities as forests often don’t have as many flowers as sunny locations.
Birds will eat the berries produced by Solomon’s Seal.
There are various insects that will feed on the foliage of Solomon’s Seal. Aphids, thrips, and sawfly larvae will all eat the leaves.
Deer and Rabbits
Deer will eat the foliage of Solomon’s Seal. If you are trying to establish this plant in your yard, you should protect them with Liquid Fence. Liquid Fence is a spray-on deer repellent, and I use it in my yards. Click here for a link to Liquid Fence concentrate.
Solomon’s Seal is generally disease free in drier environments. Too much moisture can lead to various foliar fungal diseases.[fungus]
Where you can buy Solomon’s Seal
Solomon’s Seal is not typically sold in nurseries, as it is a difficult plant to start. But it can be purchased at specialty nurseries that deal in Native Plants. You can find native plant nurseries near you on our interactive map.
Where to buy seeds
We have ordered a variety of native flower seeds from Everwilde Farms, which you can order right from Amazon through our link on our RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS PAGE. And yes, they do carry native Solomon’s Seal. (We may earn a small commission when you purchase through our links, at no cost to you. This helps support our website.)
Uses of Solomon’s Seal
If you have a wooded lot, shade garden, or shady area that you wish to establish some plants, then Solomon’s Seal is an obvious choice. There aren’t that many flowers that grow in shady areas due to the lack of photosynthesis, but Solomon’s Seal will do fine.
Due to it’s rhizome roots, Solomon’s Seal is a good plant to use for erosion control. This is especially for areas with lots of disturbance, and could also be helpful to combat the effects of Asian Jumping Worms.
Solomon’s Seal will grow well with any other shade loving fern or perennial. It can also grow underneath trees with large canopies. But one obvious companion plant would be Jack-In-The-Pulpit or Crooked Stem Aster. But other shad plants such as Blue Cohosh, Baneberry, ferns, Ramps or Wild Ginger would all do well together. Other Spring ephemerals like Virginia Bluebells, Spring Beauty, and Bloodroot will all grow in similar conditions, but may flower sooner.
There are 34 uses of Solomon’s Seal documented by Native American Tribes. Uses ranged from eyewash, digestion gas, an antihemorrhagic, incense, wound dressing, and as a cough medicine.
Solomon’s Seal is really one of the more interesting plants native to North America. It’s form, foliage, and flowers are all beautiful and unique. There just aren’t that many plant who have an arching stem, but make it look good at the same time. It is both delicate, graceful, and yet the strong rhizome roots make it robust all at once.
 – Polygonatum sp. USDA NRCS. Accessed 17MAR2023.
 – Reaume, Tom. 620 wild plants of North America : fully illustrated, University of Toronto Press, pp788
 – Armitage, A. M., Armitage’s garden perennials : a color encyclopedia, Portland, Or. : Timber Press, 2011, pp351
 – Johnson, Lorraine. 100 easy-to-grow native plants for American gardens in temperature zones, Toronto ; Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books, 1999, pp161
 – Gates, Reginald Ruggles. “A revision of the genus Polygonatum in North America.” Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 44.3 (1917): 117-126.
 – Bush, Benjamin Franklin. “The species of Polygonatum.” American Midland Naturalist 10.11/12 (1927): 385-400.
 – Adams, John. “The germination of the seeds of some plants with fleshy fruits.” American Journal of Botany (1927): 415-428.
 – Fagan, Ann E., Michael A. Dirr, and F. A. Pokorny. “Effects of Depulping, Stratification, and Growth Regulators on Seed Germination of Liriope muscari1.” HortScience 16.2 (1981): 208-209.
 – Warren, Robert J., and Erin Mordecai. “Soil moisture mediated interaction between Polygonatum biflorum and leaf spot disease.” Plant Ecology 209 (2010): 1-9.
 – North American Ethnobotany Database. Polygonatum spp. Accessed 18MAR2023.
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