Polemonium Species, Creeping Jacob's Ladder, Greek Valerian, Abcess Root, Skunk Weed

Polemonium reptans

Family: Polemoniaceae (po-le-moh-nee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Polemonium (po-le-MOH-nee-um) (Info)
Species: reptans (REP-tanz) (Info)
Synonym:Polemonium reptans var. reptans



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cullman, Alabama

Juneau, Alaska

Merced, California

Chicago, Illinois

Newburgh, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Pacific Junction, Iowa

Louisville, Kentucky

Calais, Maine

Lisbon, Maine

Amherst, Massachusetts

Hopkins, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lincoln, Nebraska

Munsonville, New Hampshire

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Verona, New Jersey

Brooklyn, New York

Homer, New York

Glouster, Ohio

Enid, Oklahoma

Devon, Pennsylvania

Port Matilda, Pennsylvania

Burns, Tennessee

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

South Hero, Vermont

Leesburg, Virginia

Cathcart, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 25, 2016, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a handsome, low perennial native to eastern North America that slowly spreads. It does well in light shade or part-shade and can tolerate full sun for several hours. It likes a silt loam soil best or any good garden soil.


On Jun 26, 2015, lput00 from Milwaukee, WI wrote:

I have this plant in a woodland garden that is full shade for most of the day, with maybe a couple of hours of dappled shade, and it has taken over!
I let it go too long, and the roots seem to have formed a turf-like network, of shallow, but dense roots.
I am having to thin the patch out by using a pitchfork, as it is impossible to remove the whole plant by simply pulling it by hand.


On May 22, 2014, ms_greenjeans from Hopkins, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I planted two of these last year. They survived a brutal, and I do mean brutal, Minnesota winter. They are a lovely mounded shape and are absolutely covered with beautiful light blue flowers. I find the foliage of polemoniums very pleasing, and it always looks clean and nice even when the plant is not blooming. This is definitely a keeper.


On Jun 17, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

The preference is light shade or partial sun, mesic conditions, and a rich soil with lots of organic matter. It is not aggressive.

The common name of Polemonium reptans refers to the pairs of opposite leaflets on the compound leaves, which supposedly resemble a series of steps on a ladder in a dream by the biblical Jacob.

Don't confuse this plant with the other species that resembles it, Polemonium vanbruntiae (Greek Valerian), which is native to some of the Eastern States. This latter species is more erect in habit, and has slightly larger flowers with exerted stamens. These flowers are usually a darker shade of blue than those of Jacob's Ladder, and their anthers are often yellow, rather than white.


On Apr 22, 2008, outdoorlover from Enid, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is having a difficult time growing in our yard. We have heavy clay, which stays pretty dry and hard. Also, I have it planted in shade with no direct sun after the trees leaf out. I planted it in spring of 2005 and it barely comes up each spring and then dies back during the summer. Never any flowers.


On Mar 13, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This plant make a nice company for woodland phlox, and one year they bloomed together! This species may be more long lived compare to other polemonium speces like P. caerul... It grows in sandy soil in any degree of shade at my home.


On Mar 18, 2004, Tiarella from Tunnel Hill, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is a nice plant for the shade garden. It seeds about nicely but not aggressively, and seedlings are easy to dig and transplant.

It makes a nice dainty cutflower with pink columbine and other delicate spring flowers.