Gardeners grow the Fire Island hosta hybrid, one of the short or small hostas, primarily for its foliage color and texture. In spring, its leaves are a bright and almost glowing yellow-gold darkening to chartreuse in the summer. Reddish-purple stems support the attractive leaves with waviness in the margins and a seersucker effect in the middle. Funnel-shaped lavender flowers shoot up on 18-inch tall scapes in the late summer. Plant this fast grower in the early spring to take advantage of the changing colors. Hostas are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.
|Common Name||Fire Island hosta|
|Botanical Name||Hosta longipes f. hypoglauca X H. Crested Surf|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, with a perennial life cycle|
|Mature Size||1 ft. high, 28 in. spread|
|Sun Exposure||Partial shade|
|Soil Type||Evenly moist and well-drained, with average fertility|
|Soil pH||Neutral to slightly acidic|
|Hardiness Zones||3 to 9 USDA|
|Native Area||Northeast Asia|
|Toxicity||Toxic to dogs, cats, horses|
Fire Island Hosta Care
They are popular ground covers for shade, partly because they are so low maintenance. All you need to do to keep this hosta looking good is to trim ragged or discolored leaves and discard them.
Most hostas take a few years to reach their full size. Place them outdoors in the ground between one and four feet apart because it’s important to give plants enough elbow room to breathe and mature. If they are too close, it's easy to transplant them to a better location.
Select a spot with partial shade for your Fire Island hosta. Some of the golden-leafed types want more sun (to achieve optimal color) than other varieties of hostas. Most growers of Fire Island hostas report growing it successfully in locations with significant amounts of shade.
Fire Island hosta likes well-drained soil that is also mixed with humus. But like most hostas, this plant can tolerate a range of soil types.
When the first inch of soil is dry, it's time to water hostas. Keep the soil consistently moist (but not soggy) by watering with a garden hose once a week if rainfall is not enough. Hostas grown under trees or shrubs will need more water, perhaps twice a week depending on how dry the soil has become. That's also because tree and shrub roots will gulp up all the moisture while also creating a canopy that blocks rain from reaching the hostas on the ground. Keep moisture in by adding a couple of inches of mulch after planting.
Temperature and Humidity
Hostas can grow in a wide range of temperatures, they can withstand frost (though they may show some damage), and humidity rarely bothers them. But they do need to grow in an area where there will be a period of cooler and rainy weather, omitting some hotter desert areas where these plants may not thrive. When planting indoors, make sure your hosta can enjoy a four to six-week stay during the winter in a cool and damp space that stays about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Occasionally work compost or manure into the ground around the plant. One easy way to do this is by using manure tea.
Types of Golden-Leafed Hosta
- 'Remember Me': This variegated golden-leafed hosta has an unpredictable and striking color pattern with muted shades of gold, blue, and green bands, growing to about 15 inches tall.
- 'Golden Tiara': Another golden-leafed hosta with variegation and golden margins that grows to about 16 inches tall.
- 'Golden Teacup': This small golden-leafed and unvariegated hosta has deeply cupped leaves and grows about 10 inches tall.
- 'Sea Gold Star': Large quilt-like yellow and green leaves grow around 10 inches long by 8 inches wide.
- 'Sum and Substance': Gigantic for a hosta, this golden-leafed type grows up to 36 inches tall with a 5-foot spread.
Propagating Fire Island Hosta
Even if you were to find hosta seeds, they may be sterile and unsuccessfully planted. Like other hostas, Fire Island hostas can be propagated by division. You can either divide the hosta into halves or smaller portions. A very small piece of root is all it takes to create a new plant. Here's how to do it:
- In fall or early spring, use a disinfected, sharp shovel or spade to dig up the entire plant. Shake the soil as much as possible from the roots.
- Use your hands to gently break apart the root ball into desired portions. Use a trowel to help you if the root ball is tough to divide. Each portion should have some leaves attached.
- Plant the pieces in the desired location or pot.
Potting and Repotting Fire Island Hosta
Hostas grow well in containers indoors or outdoors. Choose a pot of any material and with drainage holes. The pot should be as wide as the plant's expected spread and filled with ordinary potting mix.
If growing a potted Fire Island hosta indoors, give it a spot with bright indirect light and water it frequently to combat dry indoor winter air. The plant will need a six-week chilling period during the winter.
Repot a container-grown hosta at the start of the spring growing season if the plant has spread. in spring. Keep the pot in a sunny indoor and put it in the shade when it gets too hot in the summer.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Most hosta growers find that the main task they have in caring for their Fire Island hostas is practicing snail and slug control. You may also find chewing insects such as blister beetles, grasshoppers, and cutworms making their way through leaves.
Fungal diseases that can affect Fire Island hostas include Southern blight, which rots the bases of leaves, and anthracnose, which causes discolored and tattered leaves. Proper spacing of the plants can prevent these diseases.
Common Problems With Fire Island Hosta
Though hostas, including the Fire Island hosta, are easy to grow and maintain, they may begin to appear ragged and close to death. In addition to pests and fungal diseases, here are a few more common challenges for hosta leaves that you may not always be able to control.
Clipped or Ragged Leaves
Clipped leaves are a sign that rabbits are eating the hosta's young stems and leaves. Deer will also eat leaves, but they will have ragged edges and bite marks. Deer also yank leaves off the stems as they bite.
Voles may be eating your hosta plant from underneath the ground. Voles prefer to eat roots or root hairs which will cause the hosta to wilt and die. Wilting is also a sign of frost damage, but it is not evident until the spring growing season when you may find limp or blackened plants.
Brown or Yellow Leaves
Browning or yellowing of a hosta's leaves may mean it's been scorched by the direct light of the sun. The leaves may also become brittle or bleached. If your hosta's leaves develop brown streaks near the veins on the front and back, you may have an infestation of hosta leaf nematodes (microscopic roundworms), which can be very tough to eliminate.
The lethal hosta virus X can cause blue or green spots on the leaves. The spots may bleed to cause a mottled and lumpy appearance, eventually ending in the death of the plant.
Grimy Black Leaves
Sooty mold may be a problem for hostas that are planted under trees and bushes. The waste, or "honeydew" from insects such as scale and aphids that are crawling on the trees, will fall onto the hosta's leaves. This is more of a cosmetic problem, though it can block sunlight, and the soot can be washed off with warm, soapy water.
Are the flowers of Fire Island hostas important or showy?
Many gardeners don't feel the flowers are exceptional and don't like them getting in the way of viewing the foliage. You can remove the flowers and stems after they bloom (or before) or they will begin to look unkempt.
How do you use Fire Island hostas for landscaping?
This plant could serve as an effective ground cover and border plant along shaded or partially shaded walkways. Fire Island hosta can plug gaps left in your landscape by the dying leaves of spring bulbs. Hostas will also grow under evergreen trees with a little help from you (amending the soil and irrigating).
Do Fire Island hostas attract wildlife or pollinators?
The lavender flowers attract hummingbirds and bumblebees. Because this hosta forms a lush and leafy clump, it creates a prime hiding space for small creatures such as chipmunks, rabbits, and even mice. Deer also love to munch hosta leaves.
Growing Hostas. University of Georgia Extension