Fire Island Hosta Plant Profile

Golden-Leafed Classic

Fire Island hosta growing in a container.
David Beaulieu

Hosta plants are foliage plants in the asparagus family, along with lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis), Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica), and Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa). They are popular ground covers for shade, partly because they are so low-maintenance. Fire Island hosta is prized for the golden leaves it sports in spring.

Botanical Name Hosta longipes f. hypoglauca X H. Crested Surf (but Hosta Fire Island often used, instead)
Common Name Fire Island hosta
Plant Type Herbaceous, with a perennial life cycle
Mature Size 1 foot or more high, with a spread of about 28 inches
Sun Exposure Partial shade
Soil Type Evenly moist and well-drained, with average fertility
Soil pH Neutral to slightly acidic
Bloom Time Mid-summer
Flower Color Lavender
Hardiness Zones 3 to 9
Native Area Northeast Asia

How to Grow Fire Island Hosta

Some of the golden-leafed types want more sun (in order to achieve optimal color) than do other kinds of hostas. Most growers of Fire Island, however, report having success growing it in locations with significant amounts of shade. One way to have the best of both worlds is to grow it in a pot. During the spring, locate the pot in an area that is mainly sunny. Then, before summer's heat arrives, move it to an area that's mainly shady. Another benefit of growing it in a container is that you can display it where you are able to appreciate the display to best advantage.

Cosmetic plant care includes removing flower stems after blooming is over. Some gardeners remove them even before that, simply because they don't feel the flowers are all that exceptional and don't like them getting in the way of viewing the foliage. Either way, this little bit of housekeeping helps keep the plant looking good throughout the summer.

Most hosta growers find that the main task they have in caring for their hostas is practicing slug control.

Light

Select a spot with partial shade for your Fire Island hosta.

Soil

Fire Island hosta likes a well-drained soil into which you have mixed humus.

Water

Keep the soil consistently moist (but not soggy) by watering with a garden hose if rainfall is not enough.

Fertilizer

Occasionally work compost or manure into the ground around the plant. One easy way to do this is by using manure tea.

Uses for Fire Island Hosta in Landscaping

Gardeners grow this plant primarily for its foliage color. In spring it is a bright yellow-gold. Leaf color darkens somewhat to a chartreuse during the summer, so make it a focal point in your spring garden while it is at its peak, then let it recede into the background in summer if it is only the golden leaves that you are interested in (growing it in a container makes this easier).

But it doesn't have to be all about "striking gold." Many growers appreciate the summertime chartreuse color, as well. Moreover, the reddish-purple stems supporting the leaves are attractive in their own right. Adding further interest are the waviness of the leaf margins and the seersuckering in the middle of the leaf. Finally, the lavender flowers attract hummingbirds.​

This plant could serve as an effective ground cover along shaded or partially shaded walkways, thereby functioning as a border plant. If you're not crazy about the chartreuse color it has during the summertime, stagger your planting with another shade-tolerant perennial (be it another type of hosta or something else) or leave gaps between your Fire Island hosta where you can insert shade-tolerant annuals every year, such as Impatiens plants. Conversely, Fire Island hosta is great for plugging 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). And if you're staying away from using shrubbery in foundation plantings, consider growing hosta as an alternative. If you live in the North, an east-facing wall that gets a bit of morning sun could be just right for Fire Island hosta. As you get closer to its southerly limit zone-wise, installation along a north-facing wall might be preferable.

Origin of the Names

Technically, the plant's botanical name is Hosta longipes f. hypoglauca X H. Crested Surf; it is an allusion to this hybrid plant's parentage. But many nurseries and garden writers use the catchier pseudo-botanical name, Hosta Fire Island.

The name, "Fire Island," is an allusion to the bright color of the springtime leaves (although it could also refer to the reddish color of their stems). But there's another allusion being made here, as well, even if only indirectly. Fire Island is a barrier island on the southern side of Long Island, New York. It is famous for its beaches and its lighthouse. It is also known as one of the "Gay Meccas" in the U.S.

Other Types of Golden-Leafed Hostas

Although it's variegated, another kind of hosta that counts as being golden-leafed is Remember Me. Its irregular color pattern is muted yet fascinating. Some variegated plants have predictable patterns; not this one. That keeps things interesting. The interior of Remember Me's leaf is mainly golden, the margin mainly green. But the widths and lengths of the green bands are random. Moreover, there are two shades of green, one markedly lighter than the other, making it a tricolored leaf. The overall effect is quite striking.

Another golden-leafed hosta with variegation is Golden Tiara. But it's not nearly as memorable as Remember Me.

If you seek golden-leafed hostas without variegation, possibilities range from small kinds like Golden Teacup to much larger plants like Sea Gold Star. Another giant is the very popular Sum and Substance. Here are a few other golden-leafed types:

  • August Moon
  • Sun Power
  • Fort Knox
  • Good as Gold
  • Midas Touch
  • Jimmy Crack Corn