In Cornaceae family we also find theAucuba, a plant native to the Himalayas, China and Japan. It is a plant used mainly for decorative purposes, in the apartment, due to its elegant foliage, very abundant, and also for its berries, bright red, particularly pleasant and that gives a touch of color. We can also find this plant in gardens, always for ornamental purposes, to form hedges, for example.
By carefully observing this evergreen shrub plant, you can see a certain similarity with the laurel, it is not by chance that ua species of Aucuba, the Japonica, it is often also called "spotted laurel".
The leaves are up to seven centimeters long and have a leathery consistency and a lanceolate shape, depending on the species the margins can be smooth or indented, in any case very particular streaks appear. The flowers are not large, they appear around March, at the latest in April, and are formed by four purple-brown petals. Being dioecious plants, the Aucuba may have either only male flowers, or only female flowers, depending on the specimen we are observing. If you plant a male specimen next to a female one, you can see the red berries sprouting we mentioned earlier. They are the fruits of this plant, small but very long-lasting, containing the seeds that ripen from October to February.
Despite being native to Asian countries, today this plant is also widespread in Europe and America, the important thing is that it can grow in areas with a temperate climate. It is highly appreciated and used all over the world.
It is very simple to grow these plants that can be placed almost anywhere even if they prefer areas where the sun does not come directly and there is semi shade.
As for the terrain, the Aucuba they have good resistance even if they are found in dry or arid soils, they are also "strong" against winds, atmospheric pollution and cold. They can be grown at temperatures ranging from -15 ° C to 20 ° C.
While resisting well even in drought conditions, loves to be watered abundantly, to understand how to regulate it, just check when the soil dries up and at that point give water, without ever exaggerating because, as often happens, stagnation can create big problems, even to plants as robust as these.
Every two or three years it becomes necessary to repot theAucuba, awaiting the arrival of spring and obtaining a soil that is possibly rich in organic matter and very well draining. If our Aucuba is outdoors, it is better to proceed with the utmost attention so as not to disturb its development. What is recommended is to prepare the soil in advance, mixing it with organic substance, and to choose a place without ditches in order not to run the risk of them forming dangerous water stagnation.
During the flowering period, the one that begins in spring, it is necessary to fertilize with products that contain both macro and micro elements, among which we mention iron, copper and zinc. Usually it is okay to fertilize every two weeks, diluting the fertilizer in the water for irrigation, but in autumn and winter administration must be suspended.
When the time comes for Aucuba to bloom, between April and May, produces flowers that are not particularly eye-catching were it not for their particularly intense red color, in contrast with the green of the leaves. We have talked of male and female flowers but this distinction is not always visible to the eyes, one must wait for the flowering and observe whether or not the pistil is present. If there is, we are dealing with a female plant.
If we are creating a hedge with this plant, we may need to prune it to give it shape and to prevent it from invading areas of the garden that we want to use for other plants. Usually it is done at the beginning of the vegetative restart, in spring, with disinfected tools.
In this genus of plants, we can identify the three most common and appreciated species, the Japonica, the Chinensis and the Himalaica.
L'Aucuba japonica it is the most cultivated species and can even reach heights of about ten meters if cultivated to become a tree. It is characterized by having oval, glossy leaves with jagged edges and red berries that sprout and ripen between October and November. Between hybrids and the varieties of this species, we find the variegated japonica, with leaves stained with yellow that make it deserve the name of " the gold dust plant". There is also the Japonica picturata, spotted with yellow in the center of the leaves, and the japonica crotonifolia, with deep yellow streaks.
Aucuba chinensis reaches its maximum 6 meters tall, has light green leaves on the lower page and dark green on the upper one and also grows spontaneously, in Asian forests between 300 - 1000 m of altitude. If we switch to the Himalayan Aucuba we find a plant with oval leaves with smooth edges, of a beautiful deep green color that produces the characteristic berries.
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