Native to eastern Asia, these easy-to-grow, long-blooming perennials have yet to be discovered by many gardeners. The plants form mounds of deeply cut or lobed leaves that are typically medium green, up to 6 in. long. Nearly leafless blossom stalks rise from the foliage from mid- to late summer; these carry flat-topped clusters of tiny yellow or white flowers that attract butterflies and make a nice addition to both fresh and dried bouquets. Excellent in perennial borders. All appreciate rich, well-drained soil. Fanciers of daylilies (Hemerocallis) should avoid patrinias, however, as they are alternate hosts of daylily rust.
P. gibbosa. GREATER PATRINIA. Compact, clump-forming plant to 1112 ft. tall and about 1 ft. wide, with coarsely toothed leaves and loose clusters of tiny yellow flowers. Full sun or partial shade.
P. scabiosifolia. PATRINIA, GOLDEN LACE. The showiest and most popular species. Grows 56 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide; may require staking. Finely divided leaves. Sparsely foliaged stalks and open clusters of lemon- yellow flowers give plant a see- through quality that makes it useful for either the front or back of the border. Looks nice in combination with asters, ironweed (Vernonia), Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), and 'Indigo Spires' salvia. 'Nagoya' grows only 23 ft. tall. Full sun.
P. triloba. Grows 1112 ft. tall and spreads slowly to make a small-scale ground cover. Glossy, deep green leaves are 24 in. long and deeply divided into three to five lobes. Bears fragrant yellow flowers. Grows best in light shade.
P. villosa. WHITE PATRINIA. To 23 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, with leaves that may or may not be divided. Showers of white blossoms over a long period. Spreads steadily but is not invasive. Full sun.