Perennial Overview: Jacob’s Ladder


Discover how to grow Jacob’s Ladder with instructions on starting seed, transplanting, site selection, care and maintenance, water and fertilization requirements, and  pests and diseases.

Jacob’s Ladder Stats at a Glance

Botanical Name: Polemonium caeruleum

Height: 3 feet

Soil Conditions:  Well-drained, moist, average fertility

Sun: Full sun/Partial shade

Soil pH Conditions: 5.8-7.2

Planting Instructions

Can I Start Jacob’s Ladder from Seed?

Jacob’s ladder can be propagated through seed and division.

Division. Jacob’s ladder does not need to be divided often. Divide in the spring when necessary.

Seed. Seeds can be directly sown into the garden in the spring.

To start indoors, fill individual peat pots with a fertile commercial soil starter and moisten.  Sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the soil. Press them lightly into the soil to ensure contact with growing medium. Place in a room with a constant temperature of 70-75°F.  Cover with clear plastic wrap to maintain the soil moisture and temperature.  Keep the soil moist.  When seedlings appear, remove the plastic wrap and move to a sunny location.


Time to Germination: 14-28 days
Light/Darkness Requirements:
Optimal Temp. for Germination: 70°F



When Do I Plant Jacob’s Ladder?

Plant Jacob’s ladder after the last frost and the soil has reached at least 65°F.

Soil Temperature: 65°F


Where Do I Plant Jacob’s Ladder?

Jacob’s Ladder plants perform best in loamy, well-drained soil high in organic matter. Incorporating several inches of organic matter into the soil when preparing the bed will improve growth and development. It should be planted in light shade especially in hotter climates. Can tolerate full sun in cooler areas.


Soil Type: Well-drained, moist, average fertility
Sun Exposure: Partial shade
Soil pH: 5.8-7.2


How Far Apart Do I Plant Jacob’s Ladder?


Jacob’s Ladder Plant Care and Maintenance

Once established, most perennials require very little routine care and maintenance.

How Often Should I Water Jacob’s Ladder?

For many perennials, average rainfall is sufficient to keep the plants healthy.  Supplementation may be necessary in droughty conditions.

The key to watering Jacob’s Ladder is to maintain a consistent moisture level.  This is especially important during flower and fruit development. The soil should be moist to a depth of 6”.  Allowing the soil to dry out between watering will result in a shallow root system.

Water the soil around the plant. Overhead watering will encourage disease.  Drip irrigation is best.

Mulch around the plant will help to lock in moisture.


Should I Fertilize Jacob’s Ladder?

Most perennials do not require a specific fertilization regiment.  Fertilizing decisions should be based on a soil test.  If a soil test cannot be obtained and you feel that your perennial bed would benefit from fertilization, keep it light.  Work in a small amount of a low nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 around the plants in the early spring.

Fertilize the soil around the plant at least 6” from the plant base. Irrigate into the soil.


Additional Care Instructions

Deadhead spent flowers to discourage self-seeding and to encourage continual blooming.

Cut back plants after flowering to encourage reblooming.

Jacob’s Ladder Diseases

The most common diseases associated with this plant include: no major disease issues.

Jacob’s Ladder Pests

The most common pests associated with this plant include: no major pest problems.

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