Jacob’s Ladder: Regal Shade-Blooming Perennial


Jacob’s ladder, also known as Polemonium caeruleum (var. spelling coeruleum), is a hardy perennial herb of the Polemoniaceae family that includes phlox and gilia.

Add bright blue Jacob's ladder to your landscape for showstopping color: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/flowers/jacobs-ladder/ ‎

It seems to have come from Europe as an ornamental, seeded beyond its borders, and naturalized here. And, while there is evidence to suggest that it was used in medicinal applications in the past, P. caeruleum is not generally used as an herb today.

Other common names include charity, and Greek valerian, not to be confused with the “true” valerian plant, Valeriana officinalis.

Brighten up a shady area by planting bright blue Jacob's ladder: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/flowers/jacobs-ladder/ ‎

And to further muddy the waters, this plant is often mistaken for P. reptans, a U.S. native also called Jacob’s ladder, as well as false Jacob’s ladder, creeping Jacob’s ladder, American Greek valerian, and abscess root. This variety is still used in herbal preparations.

Majestic in Blue

The upright stems of P. caeruleum rise regally, often to a height of three feet. Wispy leaves alternate, resembling the rungs of a ladder.

Brighten up shady spots with colorful Jacob's ladder, a European import: https://gardenerspath.com/plants/flowers/jacobs-ladder/ ‎

The petals of its clustered blossoms are a brilliant blue, a gorgeous example of nature’s rare blue flowers. Bright yellow stamens provide striking contrast.

P. caeruleum is a late spring to early summer bloomer. Like the hosta, it thrives in shade where there is rich, well-drained soil, and makes a great understory plant beneath trees.

Given the opportunity to go to seed, it will naturalize on your property, returning in greater quantity each year.

Polemonium caeruleum Plant Facts

  • Blooms spring to early summer
  • Blue
  • Introduced
  • Naturalizes readily, invasive in some states
  • Performs best in cooler regions
  • Rich, well-drained soil, average moisture
  • Self-sows
  • Shade to partial shade
  • Up to three feet in height
  • Zones 4 to 8

Where to Buy

P. caeruleum seeds are available on Amazon from Everwilde Farms.

Jacob’s Ladder Native Wildflower Seeds

Each package contains 100 seeds.

Colorful Sentries

P. caeruleum is a striking flower that invigorates shady areas.

Shade-loving Jacob's ladder adds a spot of bright color to otherwise dark areas | GardenersPath.com

Plant it along stockade fences, to brighten the shadows they cast, and add structure to shorter plants arranged in the foreground.

How about welcoming visitors to your outdoor living space with tall spikes of brilliant blue flanking your garden gates?

For more ideas on bringing color into shady landscapes, see our article Choosing the Perfect Flowering Perennials: 5 for Your Shade Garden.

How have you added texture, color, and dimension to your gardens with shade-blooming perennials? Tell us in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of blue Jacob's Ladder flowers in bloom.

Product photo via Everwilde Farms. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Annuals Perennials Flowers Diseases and Insects Landscape Trees Outdoor Furniture Orchards, Nuts, and Fruit Trees Animals and Wildlife Beginners Fruit Tips & Hacks
Sort by
Closeup of a tiny silver ragweed plant in a black plastic container with brown potting medium, with more matching pots in the background.

Dusty Miller: A Plant That Really Shines

2018-08-30 18:47:21


Swan River Daisies | GardenersPath.com

A Gift From Down Under: Swan River Daisy

2017-10-24 18:39:56


Orange and white daffodils alongside yellow daffodils in various sizes, growing outdoors in the sunshine, with thin green stems and leaf blades.

Delightful Daffodils, A Springtime Must-Have

2019-03-24 18:10:29


How to grow peach trees | GardenersPath.com

Give the Gift of Fruit: How to Grow Peach Trees

2019-03-06 18:53:48


Enjoy vibrant evening blooms from four o

It’s Time to Plant Four O’Clocks

2019-01-26 22:06:19


A person is picking a perfectly ripe, bright red apple from a tree branch that is supporting many of the delicious fruits.

Growing Apple Trees: A Fruitful Primer

2018-03-04 12:17:47


A branch with seven black raspberries, one that is large and dark purple and others that are smaller and red, with pale green teardrop-shaped leaves with prominent veins on skinny branches.

A-Foraging We Will Go: Berry Edition

2018-03-02 13:19:13


About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

Leave a Reply

Photo and Image Files
Audio and Video Files
Other File Types
Notify of