Gold dust plant (Aucuba japonica) is an evergreen ornamental shrub that grows slowly to about 8-10 ft (2-3 m) tall, and flourishes in low light areas. The leaves are opposite, broadly lanceolate, 5–8 cm long and 2–5 cm wide. Tiny purple-maroon flowers with creamy white anthers bloom in early spring (March-April). The flowers are small, 4–8 mm diameter, each with four sepals and four petals. Plants in this genus are dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Male flowers show up in upright terminal panicles. Female flowers show up in shorter clusters from the leaf axils. The female plants produce bright red berries approximately 1 cm in diameter. It is easy to maintain and grows almost in any climate and condition. The fruit and leaves of this plant are highly toxic.
Scientific Name: Aucuba japonica
Common Names: Spotted laurel, Japanese laurel, Japanese aucuba or Gold dust plant.
How to grow and maintain Gold dust plant:
It grows best in partial to full shade. The leaves will burn and turn a sickly yellow if exposed to too much sunlight.
The perfect soil is moist, high in organic matter and well-drained, although it will endure almost any soil condition.
Indoor plants require a cool room with temperatures in the 50-65°F range. But they can’t endure temperatures much above 23°C (73°F).
Water profoundly once or twice weekly when newly planted. Allow the top 2 to 3 inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Once the plant becomes established this evergreen shrub is very drought tolerant.
Fertilize month to month with a balanced, slow-release general purpose fertilizer or a liquid seaweed emulsion fertilizer in spring.
Gold dust plant can be easily propagated by cuttings or from seed. Root semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in autumn.
Pests and Diseases:
No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, scales, mealybugs, nematodes, leaf spots. Spider mites can be troublesome indoors. Root rot may happen in poorly-drained or excessively wet soils.