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Master Gardener Sue Morris: Island Breeze is the hosta of the year for 2022

Award winners are hostas that are good garden plants in all regions of the country, are widely available in sufficient supply and retail for about $15 in the year of selection.

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Have you ever wondered who picks the Hosta of the Year? Let me tell you. It’s the American Hosta Growers Association. The members of this association each vote on the breed, which must be quite the task as there are literally thousands of hosta varieties on the market.

Award winners are hostas that are good garden plants in all regions of the country, are widely available in sufficient supply and retail for about $15 in the year of selection.

The 2022 winner is Island Breeze. This is a small hosta, growing to 12” tall and 18” wide. Its 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.

The leaves are thick and resistant to damage from pests (a real plus). It is a sport (genetic mutation) of Paradise Island, which is an offspring of Fire Island.

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Island Breeze offers brighter color, wider leaf margins and thicker leaves than its ancestors. It has red leaf stems, adding to the color show.

This variety grows in part sun or full shade and needs regular moisture. It grows well in zones 3-9. The blooms are lavender.

It sounds like one I’ll have to try.

Previous winners are:

  • 2021: Rainbow's End
  • 2020: Dancing Queen
  • 2019: Lakeside Paisley Print
  • 2018: World Cup
  • 2017: Brother Stefan
  • 2016: Curly Fries
  • 2015-Victory
  • 2014: Abiqua Drinking Gourd
  • 2013: Rainforest Sunrise
  • 2012: Liberty
  • 2011: Praying Hands
  • 2010: First Frost
  • 2009: Earth Angel
  • 2008: Blue Mouse Ears
  • 2007: Paradigm
  • 2006: Stained Glass
  • 2005: Striptease
  • 2004: Sum and Substance
  • 2003: Regal Splendor
  • 2002: Guacamole
  • 2001: June
  • 2000: Sagae
  • 1999: Paul's Glory
  • 1998: Fragrant Bouquet
  • 1997: Patriot
  • 1996: So Sweet

Out of that list, my favorites are Victory, Liberty, Striptease, Sagae and June.
Sum and Substance works in an area that gets more sun, but there's not a thing wrong with the others either.

In my garden, Victory is a fast grower and has very large leaves and is a real show stopper. Some on the list I haven’t had long enough to evaluate. Good small, front-of-the-border hostas include Curly Fries, Praying Hands and Blue Mouse Ears.

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Master Gardener Sue Morris has been writing this column since 1991 for Kandiyohi County newspapers. Morris has been certified through the University of Minnesota as a gardening and horticulture expert since 1983. She lives in Kandiyohi County.

Master Gardener Sue Morris has been writing a column since 1991 for Kandiyohi County newspapers. Morris has been certified through the University of Minnesota as a gardening and horticulture expert since 1983. She lives in Kandiyohi County.
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