Polemonium (Jacob's Ladder)

Linda RickettsMay 9, 2012

I want to add this to my garden this year. Does anyone have experience with it? Does it spread/return reliably?


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I planted some last year in a part shade bed on the side of my house and this year it has filled in nicely and is looking great. In fact, it's blooming like crazy right now! Can't speak much to longevity, but so far so good.

Here it is up close on May 7:

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Linda Ricketts

Love it!


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 2:32PM
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I have some regular green leafed Polemonium like Sarahrock that I got at a plant swap. Mine is at least 7 years old, and spreads slowly. It's not a thug that selfseeds everywhere, and I think I could remove it relatively easily if I wanted to. I like it. I think that some of the variegated leafed varieties are a bit fussier, but I don't know if they all are. Hopefully someone who grows some of them will weigh in.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 7:20PM
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I bought a tiny pot "Touch of class", which is the variegated kind 5 years ago and stuck it in full shade (stayed at about 5" in diameter and had a few flowers). It struggled until last year when I moved it into a sunnier location (gets sun until about 3pm). It's exploded this year and is about 18" wide. It hasn't self seeded ever. The light purple flowers compliment the white and green foliage and was my favourite flower last year.

My giant Bressingham blue hasn't gotten any bigger than when I bought it about 3 years ago - about 18" and is smothered with blue flowers. They've both been going for about 2 weeks now and aren't showing signs of slowing down. He's in full sun all day and is actually the cornerstone to my front spring garden.

I have a good foot of enriched topsoil and sand under that - I also live fairly close to a large body of water, so I'm not sure if all of that helps them, but in the right place, they sure seem happy. Even in not the right place, they struggle along....My opinion is that they are a very well behaved perennial that have a great show of flowers for a few weeks and then depending on the variety have beautiful, different foliage (one of mine is white and green and the other is purple almost). Seriously contemplating getting more!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:49AM
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Linda Ricketts

Thank you! I bought a couple plants with blue flowers and the variegated foliage. Looks very pretty in my bed & seems happy so far. I hope it does return every year.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:44PM
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I grew it back in Ontario and it was decent but here in Nova Scotia it is amazing. I planted a small one this year and it's already massive. It's not a bully though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jacob's Ladder pics

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:51PM
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I've had the common green foliage Jacob's Ladder for many years and it's a well behaved tough plant even in zone 3. I let some of them self-seed so always have lots to move around and share. Altho they bloom early the foliage alone makes them a keeper IMO.

Two years ago I bought 'Stairway to Heaven' which is variegated and very pretty (rated one of the best by some) altho doesn't grow fast and is smaller. Has done well but last year something (likely the marmots) ate it down while it was flowering. Am using blood meal this year to try to deter them, as well as the deer.

I love Jacob's Ladder and highly recommend them.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 1:02PM
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Jacob's ladder is a lovely, old-fashion plant that is not found in every nursery. The one I have is called "Heavenly Habit". (Leaves are solid green with purple flowers.)It is a short variety that grows 15" tall and has about a 12" spread. It likes partial sunlight. I had tried it for the first time about fours ago. It did come back for a few years, and then it died. But I think that was due to a dry winter. I did love it, so I bought three this year, and planted them in a different location in my yard. It gets a bit more sun in this area, but so far they are doing well. We are currently going through a hot spell (around the 90's-no humidity), and the fact that they are doing well is surprising..they are tougher than I anticipated. They do get plenty of water, and I planted them fairly close to other plants as well.

I don't have any comments on other varieties since 'Heavenly Habit' is the only one I have tried.

I think they are a sweet addition to any garden. Good luck with yours. :0)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 2:38PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Lambrooke Mauve is a sterile polemonium so it flowers for a really long season - the fleeting bloom cycle is why I don't bother with them usually although they are charming plants.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:17PM
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Some photos of mine:

Bressingham Blue flowers

Touch of Class

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:34PM
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