26 April 2014

Polemonium reptans is Jacob's Ladder or Greek Valerian for shady places

 Beautiful blue flowers are on the Polemonium reptans in the shade garden. Planted just a year ago, they emerged this spring a little larger than when they came out of the pots. The flowers have lasted a week so far.

They are native to MO and are seen throughout the eastern US. They are cold hardy in zones 3 to 8.

My hope is that they like where they are planted enough to make and spread seed all over that bed!

In colder zones they prefer full sun but here in zone 7 they definitely need a shady spot. Plant them in  a place that stays moist from humus rather than from being watered all the time.

Its other name, Creeping Jacob's Ladder imply that it spreads by stolons but they do not spread by underground growth.

The Jacob's Ladder name comes from the arrangement of the leaves that resemble the rungs of a ladder.

In nature they thrive in woods and along streams. While they have no insect or disease problems they can be killed if their roots stand in water or if they are not watered during and extended drought.

This is another plant with a dozen names, some of which indicate its medicinal uses, including Abcess Root, Greek Valerian and Sweatroot.

Missouri Wildflowers has plants at http://www.mowildflowers.net. If you prefer to start them from seed Plant World has 9 varities at http://www.plant-world-seeds.com/store/flower_seed_categories/POLEMONIUM_SEEDS

There are lots of comments online about people's failure to succeed with the non-native varieties, so if you are looking for easy to grow, stick with the native variety.

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