Japanese laurel

Aucuba japonica

Photo/Illustration: 
Colleen Fitzpatrick
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Japanese laurel (Aucuba japonica)
ah-KEW-bah jah-PON-ih-kah
Genus:  Aucuba
Aucuba are grown for their bold foliage, autumn fruit, and adaptability to shade, dry soil, pollution, and coastal conditions. A. japonica is a rounded, evergreen shrub with small, reddish purple flowers in spring, and red berries (on female plants) in fall. It grows to about 10 feet tall and wide. 'Crotonifolia' has leaves that look like they were speckled with yellow paint. 'Gold Dust' is female with heavy yellow speckling. 'Mr. Goldstrike' is male, more upright, and has gold-splashed leaves. Use as a hedge or specimen, in a container outdoors, or as an imposing houseplant.
Noteworthy Characteristics:  Very adaptable; glossy, bold foliage; red berries on female plants. Many named cultivars are female and thus bear autumn fruit.
Care:  This plant is tolerant of full shade, dry soil, pollution, and salt winds. It's adaptable to almost any soil, except waterlogged soil. Use it in full sun to part-shade, or in full shade in hot summer areas. Protect from winter sun and wind at lower zones. Trim or cut back in spring.
Propagation:  Root semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in autumn.
Problems:  Wet root rot, Southern blight, fungal leaf spots.

Overview

Height
6 ft. to 10 ft.
Spread
6 ft. to 10 ft.
Growth Pace
Fast Grower
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Adaptable
Maintenance
Moderate
Characteristics
Showy Foliage,
Showy Fruit
Bloom Time
Early Spring,
Spring
Flower Color
Purple/Lavender Flower,
Red Flower
Foliage Color
Evergreen
Uses
Beds and Borders,
Container,
Indoor Plant,
Screening,
Hedge,
Specimen Plant/Focal Point
Seasonal Interest
Spring Interest
Type
Shrubs

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