Japanese aucuba (Aucuba japonica)

Quick facts and care essentials

• Evergreen
• Climate zones 4-24, 28-33
• Partial to full shade
• Moderate watering

Valued for its ability to thrive in deep shade, Japanese aucuba reaches 6 to 10 feet tall, 5 to 8 feet wide; tooth-edged leaves are 3 to 8 inches long. The solid green form is attractive, but many prefer the yellow-and-green cultivars. Among these, the widely planted 'Variegata', commonly called gold dust plant, has green leaves speckled in yellow. All forms can be grown in containers to decorate a shady patio or deck. If both male and female plants are present, small maroon flowers in spring will be followed by red berries in fall and winter.

While it prefers a shady location, Japanese aucuba will tolerate some morning or filtered sun. It has no special soil requirements. Prune in late winter or early spring; make heading cuts to control form, thinning cuts back to a main branch to lessen density.