Polemonium reptans (Jacob's Ladder) - Qt Super Plugs

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Jacob's ladder (Polemonium reptans) is a common woodland wildflower in mesic woods and floodplain forest.  It ranges from Minnesota to New York, south to Oklahoma and Alabama.  Bearing clusters of beautiful sky-blue flowers, Jacob's ladder blooms in mid-Spring along with Tiarellas and wild violets.  Plants have a light spring-green look and grow in lush clumps, adding to the overall lush look of the spring woods.

Jacob's ladder is so named because the pinnate leaves supposedly resemble a ladder - 'Jacob's Ladder' is an allusion to Jacob's vision in Genesis 28 of a ladder (or stairway, depending on translation) reaching to heaven.  The sky-blue flowers may evoke heaven, but the link to the Old Testament reference is definitely an enigma!  No one seems to know where the name originally came from.


Jacob's ladder is an excellent medium-height groundcover for part shade - It especially excels in moist, rich soils, and is typically found in rich floodplain woods here in Indiana.  Jacob's ladder is one of the few woodland wildflowers that doesn't go dormant in the summer, making it a great backbone plant for a woodland landscape.

Jacob's ladder flowers profusely, yielding nectar and pollen for early season pollinators.  Two tiny leafminer moth species larvae feed on the leaves, but they don't cause much damage.  The plants never seem to be bothered by rabbits or deer, though we have had rabbits nibble off the flowerheads out of curiosity.

How to Grow Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's ladder is a tough, easy-to-grow plant in mesic woodland situations with slightly acidic to neutral soil.  It does well with heavy clay, as long as the soil isn't compacted, but it is especially vigorous in rich loam soils under hardwood forest.  Plant Jacob's Ladder 9-12 inches apart for a medium-height groundcover, watering well when first planting.  After a few weeks the plants should be established and really don't need any further irrigation.

Our Jacob's Ladder grown in Quart SuperPlug fabric containers are easy to plant and establish quickly.  Plants will flower the following spring after planting.

Common Name: Jacob's Ladder
Botanical Name: Polemonium reptans
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-8
Height: 12-18 Inches
Spread: 12-18 Inches
Spacing: 12 Inches
Flower Color: Sky Blue
Bloom Time: Mid to Late Spring
Texture: Medium
Habit: Fern-Like Groundcover, Slowly Spreading by Seed and Roots
Light Exposure: Shade to Part Sun; Moist Woodlands and Forest Edges
Soil Moisture: Moist to Average
Soil Texture: Clay Loam to Sandy Loam
Soil PH: Neutral to Slightly Acidic
Landscape Uses: Groundcover, Mass Planting, Naturalizing
Benefits: Fast Growing, Deer Resistant, Rabbit Resistant
Ecological Function: Nectar and Pollen, Larval Food Source, Soil Stabilization