Gardening News, Features

HENDERSON COUNTY MASTER GARDENER

     Add Some Gold to Your Landscape

By LYDIA HOLLEY

Aucuba may have large, tropical-looking leaves, but it grows in zones which get as cold as negative 10 degrees F. This shrub is easy to grow in shade. It is also easy to propagate. Most of the time if you have problems with an Aucuba, it is due to the soil being too wet. 

There are several cultivars of Aucuba japonica. Some cultivars do not have much yellow on the leaves, while others are heavily variegated. ‘Variegata’, or Gold Dust, is the most commonly found cultivar.  Aucubas may flower, but the blooms are so small, you might miss them. These can turn to red berries. But only if your plant is female and there is a male plant close by. I have had Aucuba in my garden for years and have never seen a flower or fruit. 

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Aucuba grows into a rounded evergreen shrub as tall as 15 feet, although most people keep them shorter. It can be used as an accent plant, as a hedge, clustered under trees, and even as a container plant. You can even grow it as a houseplant, though it prefers a cold room. Leaves may turn black if put in too much sun, and it may get burned from too much wind. 

Native to Asia, it grows near wooded streams. So, for best results, mimic those conditions. Make certain you water your Aucuba well and plant in soils rich in organics. If your soil is not ideal, do not worry. Aucuba will grow in poor soils, sandy soils, and even clay soils. 

Although most put Aucuba in their gardens for winter interest, the golden variegation on its leaves are showy all year long. I love to grow hostas and ferns in shade, but I especially love Aucuba not only for its evergreen quality but also because it looks beautiful every month of the year. Even in summer, it is reliably gorgeous. Once you have added this plant to your landscape, you, too, may think Aucuba is worth its weight in gold. 

For more information, call 903-675-6130 or email hendersonCMGA@gmail.com

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