The legendary “spotted plant,” the Aucuba plant, is considered a true luxury for a reason. It is not easy to grow, prefers humidity, and needs a cool dormant period. There is also a most spectacular mottled star with unusual patches of light on the dark green leaves. Aucuba plant just looks similar to Dumb canes and other similar plants from a distance. The jagged edges of the oval leaves, confusing patterns, and luxurious lushness make it stand out among any plant. This evergreen shrub is a unique decoration for modern interiors. In this article, you will learn how to grow aucuba plant, and the related care.
AUCUBA PLANT DESCRIPTION
Aucuba plant is a unique plant that naturally develops into a lush, globular form. The slow growth keeps the Aucuba plant compact for many years. The maximum height of the domestic Aucuba plant is 60 inches (1.5 m), but with timely action and under good conditions, the plant will become more compact. The straight shoots are covered with crusty traces of fallen leaves. The green plants grow so densely that the plants look round and fluffy. The upper leaves of the Aucuba plant with indented veins are a very bright dark green, a light color compared to most indoor crops. The glossy sheen only enhances the beauty of the hue.
It is not entirely clear who was the first to compare the confusing patterns and spots on the leaves of the Aucuba plant to the stars in the sky. But many people do associate the Aucuba plant with artistic paintings. The arrangement of the Aucuba plant on the leaves can easily be compared to a splash of thick paint from an artist’s brush. These unpredictable spots are white, pale yellow, or yellow, asymmetrical and speckled, dazzling the already bright leaves. The large teeth on the edges of the ovate or oval leaves only emphasize the exotic nature of the plant.
The flowering period of the Aucuba plant probably does not even need to be mentioned. The small cylindrical inflorescence consists of small purple pubescent flowers that look creative but ungainly. Aucuba plant flowers particularly sparingly under indoor conditions, as ideal tropical conditions and light are needed to release the flowering stems. Bright red berries can only be obtained by cultivating several Aucuba plants of different sexes and by hand pollination.
All types of Aucuba plants are poisonous, although not lethal. If there are small children in the house, Aucuba plants should be included in the list of crops that need safe placement and controlled selection.
TYPES OF AUCUBA PLANTS INDOORS
Aucuba plant is an evergreen shrub capable of growing to 80 inches (2 m) with ovate, coarsely serrated leaves that are dark and richly colored with cream or lettuce colored dots.
Aucuba himalaica is very rare, but interesting, up to 120 inches (3 m) tall, with pubescent young shoots and lance-shaped, narrow, brightly colored leaves.
Aucuba plant species
‘Variegata’ – This is a yellow-spotted form that is female. It is a true gold dust plant.
‘Crassifolia’ – This is a male form with large, dark green leaves.
‘Picturata’ is a female form with showy dark green leaves and bright golden yellow centers. It will produce fruit in the presence of a male pollinator nearby.
‘Nana’ – This is a dwarf form that is 3 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide at maturity. It is a female form that produces red fruit and has dark green leaves.
‘Serratifolia’ – This is a green-leaved female form that produces large amounts of fruit in the presence of male pollinators nearby.
GROWING CONDITIONS OF THE INDOOR AUCUBA PLANT
It is a subtropical crop that prefers to be placed in winter gardens but is also well adapted to living conditions. Aucuba plant needs a cool overwintering period, which is mainly due to the difficulties it encounters in cultivation.
Lighting and placement
The natural conditions to which the Aucuba plant is adapted are a cool, shady forest canopy. And in a room, the plant is best looking for equally mild lighting. Semi-shade, similar to the regime of northern windows, or slightly distant from windows to the west and east, and light inside rooms with south-facing windows are ideal for this plant. Variegated forms and varieties are more light-loving and are best suited for east and west-facing windows. Direct light always leads to leaf burn, too bright light inhibits growth, and lack of light leads to poor leaf form and leaf discoloration.
From mid-autumn, lighting for Aucuba plant flowers must be increased. Moving it from indoors to a windowsill or a window with better light is ideal. Aucuba plant usually does not need extra light and prefers a natural regime.
Temperature control and ventilation
This is one of the indoor plants that need two opposite periods to develop properly. Aucuba plant is best kept at a stable room temperature of about 68-71 °F (20-22°C) during the vegetative active period from spring to mid-autumn. It tolerates heat poorly and sometimes even loses its leaves, so it is best to find the coolest place in the house.
During its resting period, the Aucuba plant should be moved to a room with a temperature of 46-59 °F (8-15 °C), possibly even down to 41 °F (5 °C). If the plant is forced to stay in the living room, you need to maximize humidity, create completely bright lighting and carefully ventilate to compensate for the unfavorable temperatures.
The plant does not like sudden temperature fluctuations or cold drafts. In summer, it is safe to bring Aucuba plant flowers to the terrace, garden, or balcony, remembering that it needs to be protected from precipitation and wind even outdoors. The plant is tolerant of polluted air and smoke.
Caring for Aucuba plant at home
Aucuba plant is quite demanding to water when dealing with low humidity. The cleanliness of the leaves must be carefully monitored, as well as the condition of the substrate.
Watering and air humidity
For this inhabitant of the humid forest, it is important to ensure that watering is done regularly, drying only the top layer of the substrate without being wet and having standing water. Short periods of drought are not terrible, but long periods of drought, soil acidification, and the Aucuba plant cannot tolerate. Therefore, throughout the cool maintenance phase, water moderately and reduce the amount of watering to keep the moisture content in the soil very low. Any overwatering is very dangerous at this stage.
Aucuba plant likes average air humidity, and in spring and summer, it is quite happy with the conditions inside the house (unless watering is interrupted, of course). But in the fall and winter, humidity is critical if the plant is not moved below 53 °F (12°C). Spraying with warm water can only partially compensate for high temperatures, and it is best to immediately set up a tray with moist expanded clay or moss.
Fertilization and Fertilizer Composition
For this plant, fertilizer can be applied in liquid form and only when growth is active. If there is no problem, apply half amount of fertilizer per week from March to August.
Compound fertilizers with organic mineral content are more suitable for Aucuba plants. You can alternate between general-purpose mineral fertilizers and organic fertilizers if you wish.
Pruning and shaping the Aucuba plant
The spherical crown of the Aucuba plant can be maintained in ideal conditions without any help, but its growth and elongation can be reduced over the years by simple control. Pinching, pruning, and topping will stimulate branching and vigorous growth. Aggressive pruning is not appropriate, but light pruning is acceptable. Remove any damaged or weak shoots each spring to make way for new growth.
In Aucuba plant varieties, it is very dangerous to produce normal, uniformly colored foliage. If branches are not removed to the base in time, Aucuba plant flowers will completely lose their character over time.
Transplanting, containers and substrates
Once the rhizomes have grown and all the soil in the pot, you can transplant the Aucuba plant flowers. Transplanting is usually done every 2 years for adult plants and once a year for juvenile plants. If transplanting is not done, the topsoil should always be replaced by 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm). As with transplanting, this is best done in April.
Aucuba plants will not grow in any soil. Plants need a loose, nutritious, composite substrate based on leaf soil (e.g., in a 2:1:1 ratio or 50/50 with turf soil and sand). Peat is best left for other plants. If appropriate, you can use any general-purpose soil or soil mixes purchased for foliage plants. The drain is always placed at the bottom of the container – 2 inches (5 cm) in height. Pots of standard proportions are preferred.
Transplanting Aucuba plant flowers should be done with great care as its roots are brittle and easily traumatized. It is better to gently transplant Aucuba plant flowers than to expose the roots and increase the risk of damage.
Pests, diseases and problems in cultivation
Aucuba plant responds to any deviation from optimal temperature and humidity, i.e., defoliation. It may drop its leaves during high temperatures, dry air, warm winters, or sudden hypothermia. Leaf problems also indicate other possible faults.
- Lightened leaves – lack of nutrients.
- Leaf discoloration indicates a lack of light.
- yellowing – excessive cooling or temperature fluctuations.
- Dryness, discoloration, too much light.
- Dryness of tips – erratic watering and dry air.
In too bright light, direct sunlight on the leaves, the Aucuba plant will get burned and fade and lose its color.
The rot of the Aucuba plant usually appears as black spots on the leaves and stems, which is the first sign. It is worth checking the state of the roots immediately, adjusting the care, and, in extreme cases, making emergency replanting.
Among the most annoying pests of this culture are aphids, which can even be managed quickly with decoctions and infusions of insecticidal plants – marigolds, peppers, mugwort – as long as they are promptly isolated.
Propagation of Aucuba plant
Root tip cuttings are taken in late summer when they are semi-woody or green in spring (you can use the left after pruning the top). Cuttings are rooted only under a hood, in any lighted substrate, at a stable temperature of about 70 °F (21 °C).
It is more difficult to grow Aucuba plants from seeds if they can be obtained immediately after harvest. Seeds are sown only in a fresh soil mixture, under film or glass, exposing the container to the same conditions as cuttings. After many months of waiting for seedlings to emerge, these plants are cultivated for many years and can only be harvested at the fourth leaf stage and then gradually transplanted after mastering the previous container.