Jacob's Ladder Polemonium caeruleum

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Jacob's ladder


The common name for Polemonium caeruleum is Jacob's ladder. This plant is known for its striking appearance, featuring a set of lush, green leaves arranged in pairs along its stems, reminiscent of the rungs of a ladder – a feature that gives the plant its common name. The leaflets are oval-shaped with a smooth or slightly toothed edge, offering a delicate texture to the garden. During its blooming season, Jacob's ladder produces a profusion of bell-shaped flowers, which are typically a vivid blue or sometimes white, depending on the variety. These blossoms are arranged in loose, drooping clusters atop the stems, adding an alluring and graceful touch to the plant's form. The blooms are favored by gardeners for their romantic and soft appearance, and often attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to the garden. The entire plant exudes a gentle beauty, with a form that can add a tiered aspect to the plantings, and can function as both a backdrop and a centerpiece in a flower bed due to its attractive foliage and flowers. Jacob's ladder is versatile and can add both texture and color in a variety of garden settings, making it a cherished choice for many garden enthusiasts.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Jacob's Ladder, Greek Valerian, Charity, Bluebells, Stairway To Heaven, Abscess Root, American Greek Valerian, Blue Rain, False Jacob's Ladder, Polemonium, Sweatroot, Woodland Polemonium, Skunk Leaf.

    • Common names

      Polemonium album, Polemonium acutiflorum, Polemonium ambitum, Polemonium anceps, Polemonium concolor, Polemonium coeruleum var. album, Polemonium humile, Polemonium reptans, Polemonium vulgare, Polemonium boreale, Polemonium elatum, Polemonium caeruleum var. villosum, Polemonium caeruleum var. eminens, Polemonium caeruleum var. laetum

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Polemonium caeruleum, commonly known as Jacob's ladder, is not widely recognized as a toxic plant to humans. It does not contain any well-known compounds that are considered poisonous, and there are no common reports of serious toxicity from ingesting this plant. However, individual sensitivities vary, and any plant material ingested in large quantities may cause discomfort, such as stomach upset or allergic reactions in some people.

    • To pets

      For pets, specifically cats and dogs, Jacob's ladder is not listed as a commonly toxic plant. There is no substantial evidence to suggest that it poses a significant risk of poisoning to pets. However, as with any non-food plant, consumption of Jacob's ladder could potentially result in mild gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea, especially if consumed in large amounts. Monitoring your pet for any unusual symptoms after ingestion and consulting with a veterinarian if any concerns arise is always the best course of action.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2 feet (60 centimeters)

    • Spread

      2 feet (60 centimeters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Polemonium caeruleum, commonly known as Jacob's Ladder, is a favorite among bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, providing them with nectar and pollen.
    • Garden Ornamentation: Its striking blue or violet flowers and ladder-like leaf arrangement add beauty and vertical interest to landscapes and gardens.
    • Tolerance to Cool Climates: The plant is well-adapted to cooler climates and can be grown in various temperate regions with ease.
    • Wildlife Habitat: It provides shelter and breeding spots for small wildlife, playing a role in maintaining biodiversity.
    • Companion Planting: Jacob's Ladder can be used effectively in companion planting to enhance the growth of other plants and improve garden health.
    • Soil Erosion Control: The root system helps to stabilize the soil, reducing erosion in garden landscapes.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory: Polemonium caeruleum has been traditionally used to reduce inflammation in various conditions.
    • Expectorant: The plant is said to have expectorant properties, helping to clear mucus from the respiratory tract.
    • Sedative: It has been used to induce a calming effect and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.
    • Pulmonary ailments: Historical use suggests it may provide relief for certain lung conditions, although modern evidence is lacking.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Polemonium caeruleum, commonly known as Jacob's Ladder, can be used as a natural dye, providing colors that range depending on the mordant used.
    • The flowers of Jacob's Ladder can serve as an edible garnish for salads and desserts, adding a splash of blue and a mild flavor.
    • In some traditions, Jacob's Ladder is planted in gardens to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, enhancing pollination of surrounding plants.
    • This plant is sometimes used in companion planting to benefit other plants, potentially deterring certain pests due to its specific scent or chemicals.
    • The foliage of Jacob's Ladder has been used to stuff pillows and mattresses in the past, possibly providing a mild fragrance.
    • The plant can be included in floral arrangements for its striking blue flowers and ladder-like leaf arrangement, adding both form and color.
    • Dry stems and seed pods of Jacob's Ladder may be used in arts and crafts for decorative purposes, especially in dry flower arrangements.
    • In eco-printing, the leaves of Jacob's Ladder can be used to create unique botanical prints on fabric or paper.
    • Jacob's Ladder can act as a ground cover in shaded garden areas, thus helping with soil erosion control by stabilizing the ground with its root system.
    • During the Middle Ages, Jacob's Ladder was sometimes incorporated into manuscripts and paintings to symbolize ascent to heaven, representing its biblical namesake narrative.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Jacob's Ladder is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Jacob's Ladder is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Humility - Polemonium caeruleum, commonly known as Jacob's Ladder, is often associated with the virtue of humility due to the modest way its flowers present themselves.
    • Spiritual thought - The ladder-like arrangement of its leaves has been likened to the biblical story of Jacob's ladder, symbolizing the connection between the earthly and the divine.
    • Challenges and Ascension - Just as the story of Jacob's ladder involves angels ascending and descending from heaven, this plant can represent the idea of overcoming challenges and achieving higher levels of understanding or spirituality.

When soil is dry
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Jacob's ladder should be watered regularly to maintain moist but not waterlogged soil. During active growth in spring and summer, usually once every week, apply about 1 inch or 0.62 gallons of water per square foot. In cooler weather or when rainfall is sufficient, reduce watering frequency. Always check the top inch of the soil for dryness before watering again. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so proper drainage is essential.

  • sunLight

    Jacob's ladder thrives best in partial shade to full sun. The ideal spot would provide morning sunlight with protection from the intense afternoon sun, or dappled sunlight throughout the day. Avoid placing it in deep shade or in locations where it would receive harsh full sun all day, as this may stress the plant and affect its growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Jacob's ladder prefers temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth but can tolerate a range from just above freezing to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It's hardy in zones 3 through 8, supporting temperatures as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit. Jacob's ladder should not be exposed to extreme heat for prolonged periods.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Jacob's ladder to remove spent flower stalks and encourage a second bloom period. Also, cut back any dead or damaged foliage to maintain plant health and appearance. Pruning is best done immediately after the first flowering is over, usually in mid-summer. Light pruning can also be performed in early spring to shape the plant and remove any winter damage.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Jacob's Ladder prefers a well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. A good mix would be equal parts garden soil, peat moss, and perlite or sand to ensure proper drainage and aeration.

  • plantRepotting

    Jacob's Ladder should generally be repotted every 2 to 3 years to refresh the soil and accommodate root growth. It's important not to disturb the roots excessively during the process.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Jacob's Ladder thrives in average room humidity levels. It does well in a range between 40% to 60% humidity, which is typical for many home environments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Jacob's Ladder in bright, indirect light and keep soil moist.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Jacob's Ladder in partial shade; keep soil consistently moist.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Polemonium caeruleum, commonly known as Jacob's Ladder, begins its life as a seed which germinates in spring after a period of cold stratification, which is important for breaking the seed's dormancy. The seedlings emerge and grow into rosettes with pinnate leaves, and the plant establishes a root system. In the following spring or early summer, it progresses to the vegetative growth stage where stems elongate, and true leaves develop. The plant reaches maturity and begins the reproductive stage by producing clusters of bell-shaped blue or sometimes white flowers, which are pollinated by insects. After pollination, the flowers develop into capsules containing numerous tiny seeds, which, when mature, are dispersed by wind or gravity. Jacob's Ladder typically dies back to the ground after seed dispersal, concluding its annual life cycle, although it is capable of living for several years as a perennial.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-early summer

    • The Polemonium caeruleum, commonly known as Jacob's Ladder, is most commonly propagated through seed sowing. The best time for sowing seeds is in spring after the threat of frost has passed, or in autumn, to allow a cold stratification period that naturally breaks the seeds’ dormancy. To propagate, one should scatter the seeds over a well-draining potting mix and lightly cover them with soil. The pot containing the seeds should be kept moist but not waterlogged. Germination usually occurs within two to four weeks when temperatures are between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 degrees Celsius). Once seedlings have developed true leaves and are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into individual pots or directly into the garden at a spacing of about 12 inches (30 centimeters) apart to allow for mature growth.