POLEMONIUM Jacobs Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder has been grown in our gardens for many hundreds of years – it has also lived on our hillsides as a wild flower for many thousands of years. Its long history should not deter you from using it in a modern herbaceous border. The bright blue flowers studded with golden stamens first appear in late May or June and then continue throughout the summer. The leaves are deeply-divided into a series of rung-like leaflets – hence the common name. There are no problems about cultivation – add peat or compost at planting time, provide some form of support, dead-head regularly to prolong the flowering season and cut down the stems in autumn.

VARIETIES: The old cottage garden plant is P. caeruleum – height 2 ft. Spacing 1 ft.

Flowering period: June- August. The V4 in. flowers are blue, but a white form is available. One of the problems with this species is its short-lived nature – choose instead the larger and longer-lived P. foliosissimum (height 3 ft. Spacing 1/2 ft.

Flowering period: June-September). If space is limited there are 2 excellent hybrids – P. ‘Blue Pearl’ (1 ft. deep blue) and P. ‘Sapphire’ (1.5 ft. sky blue).

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained soil will do – thrives in sun or partial shade.

PROPAGATION: Sow seeds under glass in April or divide clumps in autumn or spring.

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