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Native shade perennial Jacob’s ladder gets its name from its foliage. The long compound leaves have small leaflets along a central stem that resemble a ladder. These plants are adored for their dainty, bell shaped blue blooms in spring. Plant Jacob’s ladder with hellebores and other spring blooming perennials for stunning floral combinations.
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The flower color is primarily sky blue, but there are some pleasing pink and white options as well. Many varieties of Jacob's ladder are prized for their foliage. 'Stairway to Heaven' features crisp cream variegated foliage that looks good all season, even when not in bloom. Other species boast purple-tinged leaves in spring that fades to a deep emerald color. These plants hold their own in part shade, adding texture to any garden.
Jacob's Ladder Care Must-Knows
These perennials grow well in some settings and are finicky in others. Jacob's ladder prefers well-drained soil; it will not tolerate standing water or excessively wet soil for long periods. The plant thrives with rich, organic soils, so adding compost to poor soil is a good idea. Keep moisture consistent. During extended dry spells, plan on additional watering to keep Jacob's ladder lush and happy.
Jacob's ladder prefers shade, but is adaptable to sunlight conditions, depending on the cultivar. Solid green leaf varieties can handle full sun as long as they don't dry out. Varieties with variegated foliage appreciate part sun to prevent burning their tender foliage. In deep, full shade, some variegated varieties may green up and be less vibrant. The key is to balance the appropriate amount of sun to keep foliage looking good, while also finding the right amount to encourage the most blossoms. The bloom period of Jacob's ladder is fairly short, so err on the side of keeping the foliage looking its best by focusing on overall plant health.
Little additional maintenance is needed to keep these plants looking nice. Deadhead spent blooms to prevent plants from wasting energy on seed production. Some varieties of Jacob's ladder will naturalize, so if you want to prevent the plant from spreading, keep up with deadheading.