Variegated Solomon's seal

Variegated Solomon’s seal, this year’s perennial of the year.

With gracefully arching stems and bright green leaves with white edges, variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’) is a welcome addition to the woodland garden and an ideal companion for other shade-lovers, such as hosta, astilbe, hellebore, brunnera and ferns.

Although it doesn’t produce the riot of color of many previous Perennial Plants of the Year award winners, such as Magnus coneflower and Goldsturm rudbeckia, variegated Solomon’s seal is a dramatic plant nonetheless. The 18″ to 24″ tall stems add height and structure, and the white-margined leaves brighten shady spots. The species name, oderatum, refers to the sweet fragrance of the small, creamy-white flowers that dangle from the stems in late spring, attracting hummingbirds. With foliage that turns bright yellow in autumn, this plant offers three seasons of interest.

Like other Perennial Plants of the Year, variegated Solomon’s seal is adapted to a range of growing environments, is relatively low-maintenance and is generally free of pest and disease problems. It’s hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 8 and prefers part shade to full shade and moist, humus-rich soil. In suitable locales it will spread by rhizomes, slowly forming colonies. Unlike the non-variegated Solomon’s seal, this variety is not aggressive.

Past Winners

  • 2012: Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’
  • 2011: Amsonia hubrichtii
  • 2010: Baptisia australis
  • 2009: Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
  • 2008: Geranium ‘Rozanne’
  • 2007: Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’

See the complete list of winners.

Variegated Solomon’s seal is perfect for marking the transition between formal plantings and more natural woodland gardens. It will return faithfully each year to bring a touch of grace and radiance to shade gardens.

How Does a Plant Get Named “Perennial of the Year”?

Winners are designated each year by the Perennial Plant Association. This professional trade group includes growers, retailers, landscape designers and other horticultural professionals. The group chooses a plant using several criteria. For example, the plant must thrive in a wide range of climates and growing conditions, require relatively little maintenance and be attractive in multiple seasons. Each year, members of the association nominate hundreds of plants and winnow the list to a single winner.

For more on plant award programs, read the article Red Carpet Plants.