This easy, super-drought-tolerant, adaptable evergreen for sun or shade earns high marks as a hero of climate change. It looks great after the worst drought in decades — with no help from this gardener. And just imagine how it brightens even the gloomiest spot, and even in the gloomiest months. It also does well in pots, or as a houseplant.
Aucubas are native to large parts of Asia.
- ‘Gold Dust’ can grow to 10 feet tall by 5-7 feet wide — big — and some have been known to grow 15 feet tall. Smaller varieties are available, too.
- Tolerates full shade through full sun, though some leaf burn can result from afternoon sun.
- Sources say it grows well in Zones 6-10, but one Zone 5 contributors to Daves Forum reports that hers is thriving. Some winter dieback can occur, however, which needs to be pruned away.
- Female plants will berry in the fall if a male is nearby.
- Extremely drought-tolerant.
- Prune to any shape or size. Aucuba will take any pruning abuse inflicted on it and keep growing back. For the aucubas in the top photo, once a year I remove some of the taller stems that are starting to bend over, as well as any branches that are hanging over the driveway.
- Grows at a moderate rate, though sources advise that faster growth can be accomplished with yearly fertilizing and regular watering until it’s the size you want.
- Aucuba is famously easy to propagate by rooting. Some gardeners dust the cutting with rooting hormone; others just stick the cutting in the ground in the shade and water it in. Voila — new plant.
- As noted above, removal of some winter dieback may be needed.