Spotted laurel (Aucuba japonica)

Today we are going to talk about a plant that is used outdoors and indoors for decoration. It is the Aucuba japonica. Its common name is aucuba or spotted laurel due to the spots on its leaves. It is a plant from Japan, China and Formosa and is used for both interior and garden decorations. In this article we are going to tell you all about its characteristics and the most important factors to take into account in its care.

Do you want to know more about the Aucuba japonica? Keep reading because we will explain everything to you

Main features

This plant belongs to the Solanaceae family. It is a small evergreen shrub that can be between 1 and 3 meters high. Its leaves are what stands out the most for its characteristic spots, from which the common name of spotted laurel comes. They are oval in shape and shiny in appearance with serrated edges. The spots are usually yellow or brown depending on the variety. The most common is Crotonifolia in which the spots are yellow.

They have small fruits the size of an olive with an intense and bright red color. As they mature, they take on the shiny appearance. In order to identify which are the male and female plants, we just have to look at this fruit. The bright red fruit appears on female plants, so we can use it as an indicator.

These plants are perfect for decorating a patio or the interior of a house. However, to have them indoors we must take special care with some aspects that we will see later later.

The Aucuba japonica is quite resistant to adverse situations so it is perfect for all those people who are starting in the world of gardening and do not have much experience. The most normal thing is to grow it indoors unless we have a balcony or terrace located in the north orientation.

Aspects to consider

This plant needs us to take care of some aspects so that it can grow and stay healthy at all times. The first thing is to take into account the sunlight. We have previously mentioned that these plants are perfect to be placed on a balcony or terrace facing north. Well, this is because they do not support direct sunlight or high temperatures.

Therefore, when we have the plant indoors, we must keep them away from high temperatures and little aeration. By high temperatures we mean stoves, heaters and other sources of heat. If, for example, the kitchen is close to the area where the plant is placed and we are continuously emitting steam from cooking or ovens, our Aucuba japonica will end up dying.

Nor can we place it in direct sunlight as it will damage the leaf tissues and the plant will not be able to perform its vital functions. To make it perform its photosynthesis well, the ideal is to place it in semi-shade. The most harmful hours of the day and in which, under no circumstances can we place is at noon.

The humidity of the environment should generally be somewhat high. It is not a plant that tolerates dry environments. Those of us who live in a Mediterranean climate with extremely dry summers, we must spray it once or twice a week to keep them fresh.

On the contrary, it is not able to withstand frost either. Temperatures constantly below 2 degrees Celsius are negative for their survival. They are able to withstand some weaker frosts if the plant is acclimatized and is not in a growth period. It must be borne in mind that at times when the plant uses more energy to grow its leaves or fruits, it cannot afford the “luxury” of fighting against adverse temperatures.

Necessary care for the Aucuba japonica

The spotted laurel needs some care to keep them healthy at all times. The first thing is that the soil where we plant it is slightly acidic, although it resists very alkaline soils quite well.

As for irrigation, the conditions with the highest irrigation frequency is summer. It should be watered every three days and, if the environment is very dry, we can spray it on its leaves to keep it fresh on the hottest days. In winter, irrigation is limited to just one liter of water per week. If we have it in outdoor places where rainwater falls on them and there is abundant or constant rainfall, it is better not to water them.

If at the time of watering them we saturate it with water or the soil does not have good drainage, we will be harming its development. The plant may end up drowning or even rotting. If we go on a trip in summer and we forget to water it, no problem. The spotted laurel is capable of withstanding long periods of drought. What does not resist is waterlogging.

Although it does not need it, in flowering times it is advisable to give it a chemical fertilizer before it blooms. This will help them to have more nutrients so that the flowering is more successful and the branches produce more leaves. The rest of the year does not need any subscriber because the plant does not grow.

For maintenance we must do an annual pruning. This is not necessary, but if we want the plant to be in optimal conditions we can do a moderate pruning in the winter time before sprouting. In this way, we will be focusing the energies of the plant on flowering and it will have better performance. If we have the plant in a pot, it is advisable to change it every two years.

Pests, diseases and reproduction

This plant is vulnerable to pests such as mealybugs and aphids. As for diseases, one of those that affects it the most is the Brotritis fungus. It is a gray fungus that arises when there is high humidity. It attacks mainly the stems. To solve this problem, it is better to increase the temperatures and lower the humidity of the environment. Temperatures cannot be lower than 23 degrees or it will affect you negatively.

To multiply them, the best time is in summer by layering and in cuttings of semi-woody parts in spring.

I hope this information helps you learn more about the Aucuba japonica.

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