The Aucuba or Spotted laurel, is usually seen growing as an evergreen shrub in dark areas of gardens. However, it also makes a great houseplant. It is also a good plant for sunny areas of the garden.
Once it has served its purpose as an indoor specimen, it can be moved outdoors either into a container for the patio or a suitable area in the garden. A suitable area being partial shade with good light to retain the colourful variegation.
When grown as a houseplant is will probably require watering daily.
There are several types available going under the names of Aucuba crotonifolia; Aucuba 'Gold Dust'; Aucuba 'Goldstrike' and Aucuba 'Golden King'. No need to wait to see it in flower before choice, the foliage is what it is grown for.
The Plant: The Aucuba has glossy green leaves with golden splashes of colour, a neat compact shrub. Insignificant flowers, and scarlet berries, will only be produced when a male plant and a female plant are grown in close proximity. they rarely flower when set berries when grown indoors, but it is possible to buy a plant that is already in the process of berrying. Best if the berries are still green - allowing them to ripen indoors.
Its needs: Good light, even a little morning sun. Tolerates some cold, but prefers room temperature once grown as a houseplant. A well-drained potting mix is best. It is one of those plant that gives you plenty of warning when it is in need of water, with its sagging leaves.
Aucuba japonica - picture by Kurt Stueber
Care: Moderate watering during growing season, but reduce this to a minimum in winter. Mist-spray in hot, dry conditions. Cut back old woody growth to re-shape plant in late autumn or early spring. Poor light causes leaves to lose their bright coloration, and reputation as being the Gold Dust Plant! Aucuba responds to fortnightly feeding
Good for: ‘Neat’ plant, happy in most situations.
Spotted Laurels sometimes suffer from Scale insect pest which can attack underside of leaves. Greenfly aphids may also take a liking to the new shoots, but rarely are a pest on the older growth.
Semi ripe cuttings can be rooted in late summer - but best placed in a cool spot outdoors with airtight bag placed over the pot - otherwise in a cool greenhouse in early September when they will root after a few weeks, and left until spring to pot the, up as young plants.
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