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The Plant Guide

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Japanese laurel

Aucuba japonica

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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 CharacteristicsVery adaptable; glossy, bold foliage; red berries on female plants. Many named cultivars are female and thus bear autumn fruit.

CareThis 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.

PropagationRoot semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in autumn.

ProblemsWet root rot, Southern blight, fungal leaf spots.

  • Genus : Aucuba
  • Zones : 10, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Plant Height : 6 to 10 feet
  • Plant Width : 6 to 10 feet
  • Moisture : Adaptable
  • Uses : Containers
  • Bloom Time : Early Spring, Spring
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Flower Color : Red
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage, Showy Fruit
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest

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