The gold dust plant (Aucuba japonica) is native to Japan. This slow growing, hardy evergreen shrub is distinctive for the splash of yellow or specks of gold in the middle of each broad, dark green leaf. The gold dust plant will grow to a maximum height of 10 feet if planted outdoors and properly cared for. It can also be grown as a houseplant.
Aucuba japonica is an excellent plant for low light conditions. The shrub grows well in partial shade. In fact, it should not be planted in a location where it will be exposed to bright afternoon sunlight, especially in the winter, when scorch can occur and blacken the leaves. Indoor plants should be placed near a window that offers indirect sunlight, such as that filtered through a curtain or in front of a south-facing window.
Gold dust plants are drought tolerant. They can grow even in dry conditions, which is another reason they make excellent houseplants. Still, they cannot survive prolonged drought. Established shrubs should be watered once every couple of weeks and more often in drought conditions. Newly planted gold dust plants should be watered once a week throughout their first growing season. Houseplants should be watered when the top layer of soil dries to a depth of around 2 inches.
Gold dust plants can survive in temperatures as low as 5 degrees F, and prefer cooler climates. Indoor plants should not be placed near a hot window or other source of heat.
Aucuba japonica grows best in sandy, slightly acidic soil, according to Cal Lemke of the University of Oklahoma. Clay soil should be amended with sand and gypsum to bring the pH level down. Indoor plants should be planted in sandy potting soil.
Gold dust shrubs may suffer from several fungal diseases, including root rot or crown rot. Care should be taken to ensure the plant does not sit in standing water, and it should never be watered from above, as fungi can infect the leaves as well.
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