Polygonatum 'Prince Charming'
Common Name: Solomon's seal 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asparagaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade

Culture

Easily grown in cool, moist, humusy, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Best in part shade. Slowly spreads by rhizomes to form colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Polygonatum is a genus containing about 60 species of rhizomatous spring-blooming, woodland perennials which range in height from 9” tall (P. humile) to 7’ tall (P. biflorum var. commutatum). Plants typically feature (1) erect to arching stems bearing alternate (sometimes opposite or whorled) leaves which often turn yellow in fall, (2) pendant, usually white, tubular, spring flowers which droop from the leaf axils, (3) spherical berries which mature to red or black, and (4) many-jointed horizontal rhizomes.

Genus name comes from Greek words poly meaning many and gonu meaning knee joint in reference to the jointed plant rhizomes. Early herbalists believed that plants with jointed rhizomes were helpful in treating human joint disorders.

Common name of Solomon’s seal is usually considered to be in reference to the large, circular seals (leaf stalk scars) left on the rhizomes each year. However, some authorities suggest that the common name actually refers to “wound sealing properties” of the plant.

‘Prince Charming’ is a creeping, rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial hybrid cultivar that typically grows to 12” tall but spreads somewhat vigorously over time to 2-3’ wide. Parentage is unknown, but is believed to be the result of an open pollination of P. biflorum (female parent) and P. humile (male parent) which occurred in Hebron, Illinois in 2003. This cultivar is particularly noted for its compact height, mid-spring bloom, pronounced ridge (ligule) at the point of leaf attachment, ability to bloom well as a young plant, green-maturing-to-blue/black berries and yellow fall foliage color.

Upright-arching blue green stems rise from plant rhizomes to 12" tall in spring, each stem bearing an average of 14 alternate, conspicuously-veined, broad-elliptic, blue-green leaves (each to 3" long). Tubular (6 fused tepals), greenish-white flowers (to 1" long) dangle in spring (May) from the upper leaf axils in pendant cymose clusters (1-3 flowers per cluster) with up to 19 flowers per stem. Flowers are followed by pendulous, globose, green berries (each 3/8" diameter) which hang downward from the leaf axils. Berries ripen to blue-black in fall as the foliage turns a nicely contrasting golden yellow.

U.S. Plant Patent PP22,304 was issued on December 6, 2011.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs. Plant parts are toxic if ingested.

Garden Uses

Best in woodland gardens, shady areas of rock gardens, or shady areas of border fronts. Good ground cover.