Jacob’s Ladder

Polemonium reptans

Family: Jacob's Ladder

Type: Perennial

Home > Plants > Jacobs ladder

Jacob’s Ladder, scientifically known as Polemonium caeruleum, is a charming perennial known for its distinctive foliage and beautiful flowers. The plant gets its common name from its leaves, which are arranged like the rungs of a ladder. Its small, bell-shaped flowers, typically blue or violet, bloom in late spring to early summer, adding a touch of delicate beauty to any garden.

This plant typically reaches a height of 1-3 feet and spreads around 1-2 feet. It prefers shady to partially shady locations, making it an excellent choice for woodland gardens or shaded borders. Jacob’s Ladder is prized for its ease of care and its ability to add color and texture to shady areas of the garden.

In addition to its ornamental value, Jacob’s Ladder attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies, adding life and movement to the garden. It is a versatile plant that can be used in various garden styles, from informal cottage gardens to more structured designs.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 2b-4a

Deer Resistant: Yes

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Average to moist

Sun Needs: Full sun to partial shade


Growth Rate: Medium

Average Height (feet): 1

Average Spread (feet): 1.5

Average Life Span (years): 10

Form: Mounded


Flower Color: Blue

Flower Shape: Star

Bloom Season: From mid spring to early summer

Foliage Color: Green

Foliage Shape: Ferny

Landscaping Your Yard With Jacob’s Ladder Plant

Jacob’s Ladder is ideal for adding interest to shaded areas of the garden. Its unique foliage and blue flowers brighten up these spots, often neglected in landscaping. Plant it in groups or drifts for a more impactful display in woodland settings or shaded borders.

Incorporate Jacob’s Ladder into perennial beds and borders. Its vertical growth habit and delicate flowers provide contrast to other shade-loving plants. It works well as an underplanting for taller shrubs or small trees.

Jacob’s Ladder can also be used effectively in container gardening, especially in shaded patios or balconies. Its compact size and shade tolerance make it a suitable choice for adding greenery to these areas.


Suitable Garden Styles

Cottage Garden

Jacob's Ladder fits beautifully in cottage garden designs. Its quaint flowers and ladder-like foliage complement the relaxed, informal style of cottage gardens.

Woodland Garden

In woodland gardens, Jacob's Ladder thrives. It blends seamlessly with other shade-loving plants, adding color and interest under tree canopies.

Formal Garden

Jacob's Ladder can also find a place in formal gardens. Its structured leaf arrangement and symmetrical flower clusters can add a touch of elegance to formal shade gardens.

Jacob’s Ladder Plant Landscaping Ideas

Use Jacob’s Ladder along shaded walkways or garden paths. Its presence softens the landscape and adds a pop of color. Pair it with ferns and hostas for a lush, layered look in shade gardens.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, Jacob's Ladder's foliage emerges, followed by its charming flowers. The plant quickly becomes a focal point in the spring garden.


During summer, after blooming, Jacob's Ladder continues to provide lush greenery. Its leaves maintain their striking appearance throughout the summer months.


In the fall, the foliage of Jacob's Ladder may turn yellow, adding autumnal interest before the plant goes dormant.


In winter, Jacob's Ladder plant dies back. This dormancy period is essential for the plant to rejuvenate and bloom again in the spring.

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Jacob’s Ladder thrives in partial to full shade, making it perfect for shady garden spots, under trees, or on the north side of buildings. It’s an ideal choice for areas where many other plants may struggle due to lack of sunlight.


This plant prefers shaded or partially shaded areas. Too much sunlight can scorch the leaves, while the right amount of shade helps maintain its vibrant foliage and flower colors.


Jacob's Ladder grows best in moist, well-drained soil. It prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH but is relatively adaptable to different soil conditions as long as the soil is not waterlogged.


Space Jacob's Ladder plants about 12-18 inches apart. This spacing allows for their natural growth and spread, ensuring healthy air circulation and room for growth.

When to Plant

The best time to plant Jacob’s Ladder is in the spring or early fall. Cooler temperatures during these seasons help the plant establish itself without the stress of extreme heat.

How to Plant

Plant at the same depth it was in the nursery pot. Loosen the soil around the planting hole to encourage root expansion. Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil.

Plant Care Tips


Water Jacob’s Ladder regularly to keep the soil consistently moist, especially in dry conditions. However, avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.


Fertilize in the spring with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer to promote healthy growth and flowering. Light feeding is sufficient as over-fertilization can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of flowers.


Deadheading spent flowers can encourage a second bloom. Prune back in late fall or early winter after the plant has gone dormant.

By Season


Spring Care

In spring, remove any dead or damaged foliage and apply fertilizer to encourage new growth. Keep the soil moist as the plant begins to grow.

Summer Care

During summer, continue to ensure adequate moisture. Deadhead spent blooms to maintain a tidy appearance and possibly encourage further flowering.

Fall Care

In fall, reduce watering as the plant prepares for dormancy. Prune back dead foliage, if desired, to keep the area tidy.

Winter Care

Jacob's Ladder requires minimal care in winter. The plant is dormant during this season and does not require additional watering or care.


How Long Does Jacob's Ladder Bloom?

Jacob’s Ladder typically blooms in late spring to early summer, with the blooming period lasting several weeks.

Is Jacob's Ladder Deer Resistant?

Jacob’s Ladder is somewhat deer resistant. While no plant is completely deer-proof, its foliage is not usually the first choice for deer.

Can Jacob's Ladder Be Divided?

Yes, Jacob’s Ladder can be divided to propagate the plant. The best time
to divide Jacob’s Ladder is in the early spring or fall. This helps the plant establish in its new location without the stress of extreme temperatures.

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