A couple years ago I did something a little careless in the garden. My intent was to move a couple of plants from the Crabapple Bed to the Parkway Bed. However, I failed to carefully examine the shovel full of roots that I carried from bed to bed. If I had, I might have noticed some bits of Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum) rhizome (an underground horizontal stem used by some plants to attempt world domination).

Starry Solomon’s Plume

You see where this is going, I’m sure. Cut to the present day, and those bits of rhizome have spread to lay claim to a substantial portion of the Parkway Bed. Not that this is a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I was planning.

Starry Solomon’s Plume

But I do really like Starry Solomon’s Plume. It’s compact, tough and likes shade. Spikes of tiny white flowers in spring, attractive berries in fall, and glossy foliage throughout the season. Another common name, Starry False Lily-of-the-Valley, gives you a good sense of the plant. I like it better than its larger cousin, Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosa), which tends to flop in late summer, spoiling the effect of its red berries.

Fall berries, Starry Solomon’s Plume

The one negative thing about the arrival of Starry Solomon’s Plume in the Parkway Bed is that it is starting to displace the Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).

Starry Solomon’s Plume.

Wild Geranium is another beloved spring wildflower for shade. In the garden here we have the regular species with its lavender blooms but also the naturally occurring variety ‘album’ which has white flowers. Wild Geranium is a rugged plant that will regenerate quickly from rhizome fragments, as I learned when I tried to dig it out of the Sidewalk Border.

Wild Geranium
Wild Geranium, var. album

In addition to spreading by rhizome, Wild Geranium seed capsules actually expel their seeds several feet from the parent plant. This explains why I have clumps of Wild Geranium throughout the garden. So even if the worst comes to pass in the Parkway Bed, I am not going to run out of Wild Geranium. In our garden, Starry Solomon’s Plume does not seem to spread much by seed, and seems unable to cross barriers like sidewalks without human assistance, intentional or otherwise.

Starry Solomon’s Plume

But while Wild Geranium may have to give up some ground in the Parkway Bed, I would be surprised if it were pushed out altogether. Like Starry Solomon’s Plume, it is a tough plant.

Starry Solomon’s Plume flower

This experience taught me once again that you have to let the plants determine, to some extent, what goes where in the garden. Otherwise, you’d better get used to a heck of a lot more work.

Have you ever unintentionally introduced a new plant into a bed or border, and were you happy with the results?

37 Comments on “Starry Solomon’s Plume Making Its Move”

  1. Maianthemum stellatum is a wonderful plant and the pictures of your plants are top notch. I accidently introduced Ruellia humilis into my garden via overlooked seedlings in gallons of Geranium maculatum. A happy introduction…I’ll take it!

  2. Your starry Solomon’s Plume looks lovely and I am glad you appreciate it. I find plants that spread through their rhizomes difficult to control if they get somewhere ( often a bad choice on my part) and I change my mind. Although I love Acanthus mollis, and I had some large plants, I now dig it out where ever I see it. I have wild geranium too but I find they come out easily enough in the wrong place. Amelia

  3. Talk about a timely post. I brought varigated solomon seal into my garden a few years back and dig away each year only to still have stragglers show up the next year. I also brought lily of the valley into my garden, planted it around a rock where it looked lovely, only to find it all over the place and dig away on that every single year. Yesterday, I worked at our local nursing home and I must have dug up 500 lily of the valley from an original work day when one gardener said ‘wouldn’t a little ring of lily of the valley look lovely around this tree’? I still have another hour or so of digging to do there, and I’m positive there will be numerous plants pop back up.

  4. I did not know about either of these plants and wow , they are eye candy ! .. How could I not know about them while I have gardened for so many years .. it goes to show a gardener will always stumble upon something they didn’t know of before .. Yes, I have introduced ? plants from one area to another unknowingly but most times I am very much ok with it .. Labrador violets pop up in many places that seem too dry and desolate to sustain them .. as have oddly enough Japanese Painted ferns .. I have one growing out of a rock crevice, how that happened I will never know .. and it is a beautiful burgundy one.
    Those incidents are like little surprise gifts, so they make me smile.

  5. Yes, to answer your last question. It happens all the time. 😉 The plants you show here grow in our back woods…I never planted them. And they’re common at nearby parks, too. It seems like it’s a very good year for Wild Geraniums! Hope you got some rain and have more in your forecast?

  6. I had to look that one up. I only recently took an interest in the native (here) false Solomon’s seal, which we know simply as Solomon’s seal. It lives in some of our landscapes only because it is native. It was not planted, although I would like to move some of it around. It is surprisingly popular in gardens elsewhere. Yours certainly is pretty, and is very different from ours. I have heard that some are a bit too eager to migrate. Are yours fragrant?

  7. Your geranium is lovely, particularly the white variety. We have a native geranium, Geranium carolinianum, which is quite pretty, but the flower’s only about 1/3″ across. I’ve never moved anything, intentionally or otherwise, but I did once have a splendid Solanum species show up in a pot. I assume a bird brought it by, and it was fun to watch it develop, bloom, and then produce seeds. For a while, an assassin bug nymph hung around on it.

  8. I like your attitude to plants that thrive in the garden – why waste time and energy battling them if they are happy and healthy? Though I suppose you wouldn’t want Solomon’s plume to take over entirely. The wild Geranium is very pretty. I have the spreading G. macrorrhizum, another plant that’s happy in shade, and Phacelia has spread in the veg bed after I used it as a green manure. Pollinators love it so the plant’s done me a favour 🙂

  9. I have to say that I’ve never unintentionally introduced a plant to another area at this point, probably because we have a huge issue with bindweed in our area, so any moves have to go through a stringent examination to make sure there are not bindweed hitchhikers, lol!

  10. Oh yes, I brought a Geranium phaeum to my new garden from the old and introduced wild strawberry by mistake! It is a lovely plant for ground cover, and easy to pull up, but it spreads in the wink of an eye… I swear I can see it growing! It spreads by runners and seed, which gets dispersed by ants and birds I think. Your wild Geranium is really pretty, both pink and white, so I hope it doesn’t get forced back too much.

  11. Goodness, one man’s weed…! I struggle to keep my tiny clump of Maianthemum stellatum going. ‘Starry Solomon’s Plume? Do you make these names up Jason? But geraniums are weeds in my garden, they come up everywhere in all shapes, colours and sizes.

  12. I’d not heard that common name either, although once I saw “Maianthemum” I realized what it was. 😀 On the subject of Solomons’ Seal (Polygonatum), until recently I’d only utilized the variegated one but on a whim tried a few plants of a green-leaved cultivar called ‘Spiral Staircase’ this spring, and am smitten. The growth habit is especially graceful. Joy, I am not terribly surprised that you find Japanese painted fern in drier areas than expected, because Athyriums are supposedly one of the more adaptable ferns in that respect. I have some that must tolerate wide swings between dry and ‘normal.’

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