Polemonium reptans 'Stairway to Heaven'
Common Name: Jacob's ladder
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Polemoniaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: Lavender blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Best grown in moist, humusy, well-drained soil in part shade. Tolerates full sun in cool summer climates. Although technically rhizomatous, plants do not creep as the common name somewhat erroneously suggests. Freely self-seeds in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Polemonium reptans, commonly called creeping Jacob's ladder, is a Missouri native wildflower that occurs in rich, moist woods and along streams throughout the State except for the far northeastern counties. Typically grows in a mound to 12" (less frequently to 18") tall. Features light blue, bell-shaped flowers (to 3/4" long) in loose, terminal clusters appearing on sprawling, weak stems in mid to late spring. Pinnately compound leaves with oval leaflets are arranged like the rungs of a ladder (hence the common name). Sometimes also commonly called Greek valerian.

Genus name comes from the Greek name polemonion originally applied to a medicinal plant associated with Polemon of Cappadocia.

Specific epithet means creeping.

'Stairway to Heaven' was discovered in a group of Polemonium reptans seedlings that were growing in a nursery in Framingham, Massachusetts. It was patented by William Cullina who chose it for its longevity and was introduced by the New England Wildflower Society. ‘Stairway to Heaven’ forms a low mound of green leaves with white margins that are tinged with pink in spring or cooler weather. It has pale lavender blue, bell-shaped flowers with white stamens. It grows 1 to 1.5 ft. tall and wide. United States Plant Patent PP#15,187 awarded September 28, 2004.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Best in partially shaded areas of the rock garden, naturalized areas, woodland gardens or native plant gardens.