Recognizing the sheer number of intriguing hostas available to gardeners today, the American Hosta Growers Association created the annual Hosta of the Year award to single out one cultivar that performs well in all regions and that is widely available at a moderate price. (See the list of winners dating back to 1996.)
For 2022, the Association chose Hosta ‘Island Breeze’ as its award winner. This cultivar's bold, substantial foliage brightens the garden. The thick, rounded leaves emerge bright gold with a medium green margin in the spring. As summer progresses, the gold will fade to a softer yellow if the plant receives more sun; if the plant is in deeper shade, the yellow will turn soft lime green.
'Island Breeze' is a small hosta, growing to 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. The leaves are thick and resistant to damage from pests. It arose as a sport (genetic mutation) of the cultivar ‘Paradise Island’, which itself occurred as a variegated offspring of the vivid yellow ’Fire Island’. ‘Island Breeze’ builds on the bold look of ‘Paradise Island’, offering brighter color, wider leaf margins and thicker leaves. Like the other 'Island' varieties, ‘Island Breeze’ bears red petioles (leaf stems), adding to the color show. Provide it with part sun or full shade and regular moisture. USDA Zones 3–9.
Images courtesy of Walters Gardens.