Golden Lace patrinia reaches about 4 feet in height. (Norman Winter/TNS)

Golden Lace, a champion for pollinators

Four years ago, I wrote about a Golden Lace patrinia a new plant to most gardeners and one that is thrilling beyond compare for anyone who loves pollinators. Now after four more years of experience, I can say it is a must-have plant, it is truly like having ‘wild kingdom’ packed in a four-foot-tall yellow blooming perennial.

Botanically speaking it is known as Patrinia scabiosifolia and is native to Korea, but you would swear it is a local. It is cold hardy from zones 5-9 meaning a broad swath of the country can enjoy it as a terrific perennial. Colder zones will find it best to grow as an annual.

In looking back at my photos over the last four years I see it blooming in June, July, August and a little in September which is longer than most perennials. Four years ago I was touting it with Little Red Joe Pye weed which is also wonderful for pollinators but doesn’t have near as long of a blooming season.

After we saw how well it performed at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, we increased the plantings in our Cottage Garden partnering it with old-fashioned summer phlox, Phlox paniculata, and the brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba. Both of those have a long season of performance and do their part in bringing in bees and butterflies.

Golden Lace is so stunning in its thousands of tiny yellow blossoms and golden calyces that would make a dazzling complementary partner with Mystic Spires blue salvia as well as the hummingbird champion Amistad salvia with royal purple flowers and black calyces. Anise hyssops like Blue Fortune and Black Adder are also stunning partners that bloom even longer.

It was amazing to see visitors stop and take pictures of the plants. It was not necessarily because of the beauty which it possesses but the sheer number of bees, wasps, flies and the exotic-looking hairstreak butterflies.

Sadly, many gardeners don’t know about these little butterflies, but they are so unique. Over the years we have seen Gray Hairstreaks, Red-banded Hairstreaks, and my favorite the much larger Great Purple Hairstreaks.

The reason I am writing about it now is that you will have to start your search to find it now. There are some very reputable mail order sites just in case your favorite garden center doesn’t stock them. You’ll be happy to know that once you get one you may find a little reseeding to have plants for other areas of the garden.

Golden Lace will reach 4- to 5 1/2-feet tall with a spread of around 3- to- 4 feet. It thrives in fertile well-drained soil and needs plenty of sun to reach its maximum potential. If you are a cut flower lover, you will rejoice as everyone raves about the texture and beauty in the vase whether it’s cut in bloom or after the petals have fallen.

Once you start growing Golden Lace patrinia, you will want to pull up a chair with a good pair of close-focusing binoculars, your digital camera and hang out all day. You will also want to bring along an insect nature guide as you will have more bees, wasps, and butterflies than you ever knew existed, enjoy.


(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

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