Jacob’s Ladder Plant- How to Grow and Care

Jacob’s ladder plant (Polemonium caeruleum)

What is Jacob’s ladder plant?

Jacob’s ladder plant, scientifically named as Polemonium caeruleum of the family Polemoniaceae, is a woodland perennial plant. It is native to Europe and Asia. Some other common names for Jacob’s ladder plant are charity plant, Greek valerian, great American valerian, and many more. It is an herbaceous plant.

Purple-flowered Jacob's ladder plant
Purple-flowered Jacob’s ladder plant

The plant grows from 1 foot to 3 feet in height and spread about 1 ½ foot to 2 feet wide. The best feature of Jacob’s ladder plant is its foliage. The plant has a clump of dense leaf stems, and each stem has tiny leaflets just like the fern plant. The booklet rises along the stem forming a ladder formation, also known as pinnate. They have light-green colored leaves—the plant comprised of five bell-shaped petals. The flowers hang like the bells, and they come in different colors like white, pink, lavender, yellow, or blue. The color of the flower depends upon the cultivar. Mostly the flowers are sky blue. Flowers bloom primarily in spring and summer.

Scientific classification of Jacob’s ladder plant

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Ericales

Family: Polemoniaceae

Genus: Polemonium

Species: P. caeruleum

Varieties of Jacob’s ladder plant

There are commonly two species of Jacob’s ladder plant, which are found in the garden. The first one is Polemonium reptans, and the second one is Polemonium caeruleum. Polemonium reptans is native to the northeast United States. It is a threatened species in some of the states of the US. It is also known as false Jacob’s ladder. Polemonium caeruleum is rarely found in the wild. It is the cultivated variety, which is highly found in the local garden center.

Some of the companion varieties of Jacob’s ladder plant are Hosta, Astilbe, and Bleeding Heart. Some other variations of Jacob’s ladder plant are as follows:-

1. Polemonium caeruleum’ Bressingham Purple’:

Polemonium caeruleum’ Bressingham Purple’ has dark, purple-green colored foliage on stems. This variety of plants produces lavender-blue flowers from early spring to early summer. It is hardy in zones 2-9. Its height grows up to 36 inches tall, and they form clumps up to 24 inches wide.

2. Polemonium boreale:

Polemonium boreale is a low growing, dwarf species having small purple or blue colored flowers on top of 3 inches to 12 inches stems in the late spring. It is hardy in zones 3-9. It is native to areas near the Arctic Circle.

3. Polemonium caeruleum’ Brise_d’Anjou’:

Polemonium caeruleum’ Brise_d’Anjou’ has bright variegated foliage that forms tight 12 inches to 18 inches clumps. This plant produces violet-blue flowers from late spring to the mid-summer. It is hardy in zones 4-8. Its height increases up to 16 inches tall.   

4. Polemonium boreale ‘Heavenly Habit’:

Polemonium boreale’ Heavenly Habit’ is also known as Heavenly Habit Jacob’s Ladder. This plant has violet-blue flowers, and it is hardy in zones 3-7. Its height increases up to 24 inches tall and 16 inches wide.

5. Polemonium reptans’ Touch of Class’:

Polemonium reptans’ Touch of Class’ is also known as Touch of Class Jacob’s Ladder. It is a natural grown perennial plant that has silvery-blue colored flowers in the spring. It is hardy in zones 3-7. Its height grows up to 15 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

How to grow Jacob’s ladder plant?

Talking about how to grow and plant, first of all, let’s talk about its excellent conditions to grow. This plant prefers a shady place to grow with rich and moist soil. Once you have found a suitable place to grow according to the plant’s need, you can propagate the plant. There are two different methods of propagation: by seed and by plant division.

How to grow Jacob’s ladder plant by seed?

Growing the plant by seeds is a faster method, as germination by seeds is done quickly. Steps to propagate Jacob’s ladder plant by seeds are:-

  1. Firstly, fill the spot to plant the seed by the mixture of soil and potting mix.
  2. Sow the seeds in the soil with a distance of 12 inches to 18 inches apart..
  3. Loosely cover the seeds by sprinkling the mud above it.
  4. Water it regularly to keep the soil moist.
  5. After a few days, you will see the seedlings sprout, and in a year, the foliage of the plant is visible.

How to grow Jacob’s ladder plant by plant division?

For the best result, you should propagate the plant by division method in the early spring. Steps to reproduce Jacob’s ladder plant by division method are:-

  1. Gently dig the entire plant from the ground.
  2. By tearing apart the root, carefully separate the basal rosettes.
  3. Replant each of the plants in the new spot.
  4. Water it well for a few weeks to let the plant settle in a new area.

You can also propagate Jacob’s ladder plant through cuttings, but this method fails more often than they succeed.

How to care for Jacob’s ladder plant?

You should take care of Jacob’s ladder plant properly. Some of the tips to care for the plant are listed below:

  1. The Jacob’s ladder plant requires partial shade for a better result, too much of direct sun can kill the plant.
  2. The soil should be fertile, moist, and rich in organic matters with a pH value of 6.2 to 7.
  3. Water the plant regularly so that the soil remains moist, and it does not dry out completely.
  4. Fertilize the plant in early summer, mid-summer, and fall.
  5. Trim out the foliage when they become brown and torn.
  6. If the plant gets too much sunlight, then the foliage may scorch, so it prefers shady places.

Uses of Jacob’s ladder plant

Some of the uses of Jacob’s ladder plant are as follows:

  1. It is boiled in olive oil to make hairdressing and black dyes.
  2. The flowers of Jacob’s ladder plant is useful for honey bee forage.
  3. Jacob’s ladder plant is beneficial for wildlife as it attracts bees and butterflies.
  4. Part of the plant that grows above the ground is used to make medicines.
  5. This plant was first used as a medicinal herb in ancient Greece to treat toothaches, dysentery, and animal bites.
  6. The research said that it is used in the nineteenth century for the treatment of rabies.
  7. It promotes sweating.
  8. Jacob’s ladder plant acts as an astringent.

This plant is not recommended for human or animal consumption.

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