Aucuba Japonica Care Guide for Passionate Gardeners

Shrubs are a great addition to any garden or home, and they are easy to care for when you possess some know-how about their care. Let me introduce you to the Aucuba japonica, widely known as Japanese laurel.

The gold dust plants develop and flourish easily in most environments as they have high pollution and drought resistance. Keeping them in a deep shade protects their leaves which are prone to sunburns. The beauty of this plant is easy to upkeep.

We will keep this guide practical and short. You will learn everything about providing the best care efficiently.

Without further ado, let’s learn more about this famous becoming indoor plant that everyone wants to get their hands off.

What is Aucuba Japonica – Care Overview

Aucuba Japonica Care Guide for Passionate Gardeners, Plantly

Acuba japonica plant

These evergreen shrubs are low-maintenance indoor or outdoor plants that can be accommodated in pretty much any container. They grow slowly, but a mature Japanese laurel can reach heights from 6 to 15 feet, depending on the conditions.

These plants are well-known for their dark green leaves that are covered in beautiful golden flecks. The best part- you won’t have any trouble caring for your spotted laurel when you possess the information from this article.

There is one great thing about these plants- you can get red fruits from them! Just place a female plant near a male one, and you will get juicy fruits for you to enjoy.

Aucuba japonica thrives in many different conditions.  They are resistant and easy to tend to while giving both gardens and homes a tropical flare.

There are three main factors to consider:

  • Mild temperatures- The plant can survive low temperatures to -5 degrees F, but this is not ideal. In-door temperatures that provide temperatures within 50-65 degrees F are the best.
  • Well-drained soil- The gold dust aucuba can survive in pretty much any soil you give it, even clay (as long as it is drained). Despite its resistance, you will get the best results with organic soils.
  • Shade- A partial shade will do but, for the brightest leaf coloration, place your aucuba japonica in a deep shadow.

It is easy to get the best results with little to no experience. Hence, the main concern revolves around environmental factors.

The most common examples of the aucuba japonica plants are:

  • Gold dust
  • Nana
  • Crotonifolia
  • Goldieana

The most common problem is related to root rot. Overly wet and poorly-drained soils are the leading cause of this.

Aucuba japonicas are forgiving towards newbies as they have a high tolerance towards soils with little nutrient value and droughts.

Gold dust aucubas are known for their long life which goes up to 20 years. With the right conditions, you can expect fantastic results.


Even when growing seasons come up, you won’t have to worry too much about maintenance as providing weekly water works just fine for your plants. If you live in an area with high aridity, you will have to water the plants more often to combat the lack of humidity.

Prioritize organic soil that has reasonable draining capabilities to maintain adequate moisture to prevent the roots from getting soggy.

If you are unsure whether to water it or not, it is better to refrain from watering at that time.  If your aucuba gold dust is placed in a container, water it less as growth is slowed.

Here is a short scheduling guide:

  • When you decide to get down to business and get down to planting, here is what you need to know. Give the ground enough water, make sure it is always humid.  When you are finished with that, you may want to use a root stimulator, to give the rooting process a quick boost.

This all sounds very easy to follow up on, but what if you plant it during winter? Simply reduce the amount of water you use to ensure the soil is moist.

  • When the first growth season comes up In normal conditions, you won’t have to water the newly planted plant each day. During this time, the new Aucuba adapts and applies water can cause soggy soil conditions which can affect it negatively.
  • After – When established, these plants are incredibly resistant to droughts. Common problems you can come across are either branches or leaves falling, but this is not something to worry about. Giving your plant some water fixes most issues of this type.
  • If you are providing water through irrigation, things get a lot easier. Make sure to set up the irrigation schedules to water your aucuba japonica in the early hours of the day. Do not set the settings to water late at night as this can lead to foliage diseases or fungus appearing. 
  • Check at least two times weekly if the soil is moist and apply water if you notice it becoming too dry. Deep irrigation should be done every 2 to 3 weeks with a bucket or two of water.

Pots and Potting media

loamy soil

When we are talking about potting the aucuba gold dust, there is a distinct advantage of this plant sport.

This hardy evergreen shrub functions perfectly in almost anything you put it in, as long as it has a hole for drainage. The main benefit of potting shrubs, in general, is that they can be implemented anywhere.  Aucuba japonica Variegata resistance allows for sub-optimal conditions to be suitable for its growth.

Keep watering the plant every so often, just enough to keep your soil moist. When winter comes knocking on your door, increase the time intervals.


You can use sand, chalk, and loam as they are well-drained, loamy, moist soils with organic matter.  Pick soil that is slightly acidic or near neutral.  If in doubt,  commercially available mixes will do just nicely for your Aucuba. You should mulch your plants to keep a distance of 15 cm away from the main stem.

During winter periods, it is worthwhile to apply a thick mulch over the exposed areas of the plant.

When picking the best pots, there are a couple of choices you can choose from:

  • Ceramic- Light-colored glazed clay. This is a great choice that will boost the plant’s porousness and keep it safe from the elements. It can crack under cold weather if left for too long.
  • Terra Cotta- Pots made out of this material come in the widest variety of sizes. The primary benefit is that they are affordable and found in abundance. They tend to be fragile, and since most are sold unglazed, they are often permeable (loses moisture).  Terra Cotta pots are ill-suited for icy environments.
  • Fiberglass planters- Lightweight and durable, pots made out of glass fibers and resin are a solid choice. While not the most ecological choice, these pots are made to withstand any kind of weather.
  • Plastic- You get the most variety with this choice. Plastic containers and pots are the cheapest on the market. They are less durable and aesthetic compared to the other options.
  • Metal- Metal pots have durability on their side. While they do protect the plant excellently, they are sometimes cumbersome and enclosed.

Reporting should be done every two years to allow the plant to grow. The size increase is usually just one size larger.


Standard rules such as dry soil, salt-laden coastal winds, and dense shades have always been mandatory for ornamental shrubs. The aucuba plant is a survivor that can thrive in almost any environment.  If you have never done this before, the good news is that this is one of the easiest plants to propagate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture judges this species as 6 through 10 on the hardness scale. It quickly roots in jars of water and rooting mediums so you won’t need anything else to get started.

Cutting them has a couple of advantages over growing them from seeds:

    • Cutting-grown plants replicate the parent plants genetic characteristics
    • It develops flowers faster
    • More practical

Before you harvest your laurels, it is useful to water them beforehand. You can use specialized equipment or just a sharp knife that was previously dipped in a disinfectant, preferably 10%  bleach and 90% bleach.

This plant can be cut almost anytime you want to, while the ideal time of the year is during spring. Try to cut the tips during the early morning hours, before the sun can dry them out. Afterward, simply stick the stems in water or a rooting medium.

If that is not possible, wrap them in moist paper and put them in the refrigerator.

The biggest issue during this process is dehydration which can affect the rooting process. This is prevented by watering the cutting abundantly and placing it in a plastic bag.  You can open the bag for a short time to let fresh air come through.

Kept away from the sun but in a warm area, your plant’s roots will be preserved and efficient.

While it is possible, try to avoid using water as a medium as it does not provide enough oxygen. The stems will develop into weak roots. Instead, use a soil mix that is moist and has to allow for air circulation.

Avoid exposing the cutting to sunlight and keep the young plant well-watered during its immature stage. Rooting hormones can speed up the rooting process, but you can nurture the plant yourself until it roots in the new soil.


Most pests that infest variegated bushes won’t negatively affect the plant in any way. Scale, nematodes, spittlebugs, and spider mites are the most common intruders.  These pests will just be a nuisance that can be easily removed.

In most cases, treating the plant with insecticidal oil or pesticides will remove this problem.


plant fertilizer

Your plants will grow much better if you give them some fertilizer for a much-needed boost, but which ones should you use?

It is a good idea to give your Aucuba’s fertilizers that are rich in iron and sulfur. The best part- simply giving your shrubs plant food of organic origin will do just as nicely!

Take note of the foliage- is it fading? Aucuba japonica is prone to chlorosis which can indicate a high pH level of your earth. Apply products that will increase its acidity, which will help your plants prosper more easily.

If your plants are potted, apply water-soluble plant food or slow-release fertilizer.

Use slow-release fertilizers for general purposes or a liquid seaweed emulsion. These are applicable in both potted and landscape shrubs. Follow the instructions to determine the quantity.

Shrubs absorb nutrients exclusively from roots. These roots are found beyond the outside perimeter of their branch system (commonly known as the “drip line”). Apply it over this area sparingly.

When applying this product, make sure to take into account the Aucuba’s size. For every 12- inches of height, put forth at least 7 or 9 centimeters of distance beyond the drip line.


Trimming is not mandatory in most cases as Aucuba japonica has a slow growth rate. While not necessary, it is a useful way to maintain the plant in your wanted form and desired size.

Broadleaf evergreens will give you the best pruning results during spring. You should also keep in mind that fertilizing the plant during this process should be avoided, as growths that emerge will just be wasted.

The same rules apply as before- use sterile tools and focus on straight cuts to get the job done. Hand pruners are great for the removal of errant growths and trimming of the stems to reduce the height of your plants.

If your Aucuba has outgrown the space it was placed in or is looking worn-out, rejuvenation pruning should be done.  This method works best during late winter, since the plant is in a dormant state, waiting for a new spring to grow.

Measure your shrub and cut it back to a height of 6 to 12 above the earth. This way, your Aucuba’s will get much-needed space to once again develop beautiful foliage the moment spring comes around.

There is always a chance that your shrubs won’t recover from the rejuvenation process. While it usually brings positive results, you should not hesitate to take up this drastic type of pruning. If your plant is old and sickly, you have nothing to lose from trying to give it another chance. 

Even the weakest shrub can be restored to full health after a successful rejuvenation pruning.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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