Aucuba japonica is a plant that looks very decorative and can beautify any garden and park. A bush with exotic leaves dotted with golden or white spots grows in the wild in warm climates, but this does not mean that residents of the middle lane or regions with harsh winters should abandon the idea of enjoying its view.
For many centuries, it has been cultivated as a home plant, decorating not only window sills, but also large halls, halls or office premises. Caring for it at home is not difficult, and the presence of delicate fleshy greenery is pleasing to the eye, so a person who once grew this bush at home remains a fan of it forever.
The reason why gardeners want to have this flower in their home is not only beauty. Aucuba japonica is one of the most effective air-purifying plants. It copes well not only with dust but also with many harmful substances present in the rooms of residential and industrial premises. In addition, this flower secretes special substances – phytoncides, which help to stop the development of pathogenic microbes. The noble appearance and powerful properties of the Phyto-purifier distinguish Japanese aucuba among the huge list of indoor filter plants.
In the wild, Aucuba japonica grows in the form of a tree or a spreading shrub up to 4 m high. Its homeland is Japan, from where it spread to China and the foothills of the Himalayas. The geography of distribution determines the main properties of this flower.
It is noteworthy that the trunk is never bare: from the very bottom, it is covered with branches and foliage. In natural conditions, flowering occurs at the end of February-beginning of March, but at home, this happens very rarely, since for flowering the bush must reach a height of at least 1.5 m.
Before flowering, buds appear on the upper shoots, which then turn into paniculate inflorescences. In order for fertilization to occur and fruits to appear – red bright berries, it is necessary to have a male and a female plant in one room.
The fruits perform an exclusively decorative function, remaining on the bush for a long time, but they are extremely poisonous, therefore it is strictly forbidden to taste them.
When grown in a pot, the flower will grow by about 15-20 cm every year. It can live up to 20 years in the open field, but when grown at home, the life expectancy is much shorter and is about 10 years, after which it is necessary to carry out cuttings or seed propagation to save an instance to your home collection.
It is important to remember that all parts of this bush are poisonous, so if there are small children in the house, then the flower must be removed to a place where they cannot come into contact with it. All work on caring for Japanese aucuba should be done with gloves, and then – wash your hands thoroughly to avoid irritation from the juice on the skin.
Classifications of Aucuba
In flower shops, there are several varieties of Japanese aucuba. They differ slightly in color and leaf size.
- Variegata. This cultivar has medium-sized white patches on the foliage in a chaotic manner. On young leaves, the spotting is more pronounced, and on older leaves, it becomes less noticeable.
- Gold Dust. This variety is characterized by the largest jagged foliage with golden dots.
- Dentata. It has carved leaves with large serrations. This variety has no colored spots.
- Pincturata. There is a yellow color along the central vein, and dark green stains are randomly placed closer to the edges of the leaf plate.
The most unpretentious is uncolored varieties, and the brightest are more demanding and are more susceptible to disease.
Home care of Aucuba
Caring for this exotic at home is quite simple and does not require special skills. Knowing the basic rules will keep the Japanese Aucuba attractive and healthy.
The size in which the flower grows directly depends on what size it will eventually reach. The volume of the root system limits the growth of the main stem, so the larger the capacity, the higher the Japanese aucuba will grow. But it is impossible to immediately place the plant in a huge container: this will lead to stagnation of water in excess soil and disruption of air exchange. In addition, in this way, pathogens can begin to actively multiply in it.
The ideal option would be periodic replanting at intervals of 1 year for young specimens up to 5 years old and 2-3 years for older bushes. Each time you need to take a pot 5 cm in diameter more spacious. If a plant that is too tall at home is undesirable, then you can stop increasing the capacity of the pot.
This bush requires permeable fertile soil. If it is bought in a store, then you need to take soil mixture for deciduous plants, but it is better to prepare the mixture yourself. The main requirement is the neutral acidity of the soil.
Components for preparing soil mixture:
- 6 parts of clay-sod land;
- 1 part coarse river sand;
- 2 pieces of leafy land;
- 2 parts of peatland.
All components are thoroughly mixed and calcined in an oven at a temperature of 230 ° C for 1-1.5 hours to kill all eggs and larvae of parasites. After that, the mixture is spilled with a manganese solution of a slightly pink color to get rid of the fungi.
A drainage layer of at least 5 cm must be laid on the bottom. To do this, you can use expanded clay or small shards.
You can also grow a flower using hydroponics as a hydroponic culture.
Aucuba japonica belongs to light-loving plants, but it also tolerates shady places well. The only caveat is that variegated varieties lose their spotting in the shade, so they need more light to maintain varietal traits.
The best option for placing the bush would be the eastern window sill in the summer and the southern window in winter. In the summer, you should not leave the pot on the south window, as the foliage will quickly get burned from direct sunlight. The lighter the leaves, the faster and more extensive the burns will be, which will not only spoil the appearance but also make the plant hurt and recover for a long time.
If it is noticeable that the variegated variety continues to actively grow in the winter, it must be provided with additional lighting, because otherwise, the internodes will be very elongated, the leaves will be crushed and lose their original color.
Aucuba japonica loves rooms with moderate temperatures. At home, the optimum temperature is 18-23 ° C. Too hot air has a bad effect on her: the greens can dry out, the leaves will begin to curl. If the room gets too hot in the summer, it is best to take the pot outside. The main thing is to place it not in direct sunlight and in a place protected from drafts and wind. In such conditions, the plant gives an active summer growth.
For the winter, it is best for him to organize the temperature around 10-14 ° C, which is natural in his natural environment. In such conditions, it will stop the growth and resume it only in the spring. If the room is 7-8 ° C, then leaf fall may begin. This process will not be fatal, and the foliage will recover in the next season. The flower will not tolerate a drop in temperature below 5 ° C.
Watering the bush can be done both with the lower method (in the pallet) and with the upper one (in the pot). The general rule is that a flower tolerates a slight moisture deficit better than constant overflow.
During active growth, the need for watering increases, but excess water must be immediately removed from the sump. Between waterings, the soil should dry out by 4-5 cm.
In the winter months, when kept in a room with a low temperature, soil moisture becomes less abundant, but prolonged drying cannot be allowed, as this will lead to inevitable leaf fall.
Aucuba japonica responds responsively to fertilization. The greatest need for nutrients is observed in the spring-summer period during active growth. However, it is important to remember that the flower should not be fertilized during the first month after transplanting, since the root system has not yet fully adapted to the new soil.
From the second half of March to September, you need to fertilize the bush four times a month, alternating organic and mineral fertilizers. Once a week, they are brought in at half the dose indicated in the instructions. Too large doses of nitrogen can cause the pattern to disappear on new leaves. You can use a universal complex or fertilizer for decorative leafy flowers.
Since September, feeding is stopped if the bush hibernates at a low temperature. If he spends the autumn and winter months in a warm place, then he needs to be fed once a month ¼ part of the amount indicated according to the instructions.
Aucuba japonica reacts negatively to dry air. Insufficient moisture can be judged by the drying tips on the leaves or wrapped sheet plates. In warm times, this problem is not so urgent, therefore, spraying is carried out as desired. To do this, you need to use settled water not lower than room temperature, otherwise a whitish coating will appear on the leaf plates over time, which will interfere with gas exchange. 2-3 times a year, the flower can be bathed under a warm shower.
If Japanese aucuba winters in a room with central heating, then spraying should be frequent: at least 1-2 times a week. When wintering in a room with a low temperature, spraying is almost not carried out, because the presence of drops on the leaves can provoke the development of fungal diseases.
In order for the bush to form a thick and beautiful crown, it must be formed. It is possible to neglect pruning at home, but then there is a risk of the formation of an unattractive specimen, which will have long, elongated and poorly leafy branches.
Pruning is carried out in the second half of March when new buds wake up on the flower. The tops of the shoots are pinched, which activates the development and growth of lateral shoots.
If desired, the aucuba can be given an interesting shape in the form of a ball or a cube, but for this the plant will need to be pruned once a month.
It is possible to propagate the mother specimen at home by seed or cuttings.
In order for the seeds to germinate, they must be pollinated, that is, there must be two opposite-sex bushes in the house at the same time. For pollination, you need to transfer the pollen with a cotton swab from the male plant to the female. After ripening, the seeds are planted in a mixture of sand and peat. A greenhouse is built over the container using film or glass. The emerging sprout develops very slowly, but it can be transplanted only after the formation of 2-3 true leaves.
During seed propagation, varietal traits are not always transmitted, therefore cuttings are a more suitable method for variegated varieties. To do this, it is necessary to cut off the apical shoots of the last year in March, on which at least 3-4 leaves will remain. For rooting, use sand or a mixture of peat and perlite. The container with the handle is covered with glass or foil and placed in a warm place. After a month, the sprout should take root and release new buds. After that, the greenhouse can be removed, and the stalk can be transplanted into a permanent pot.
When grown at home in Japanese aucuba, black spots can be observed on the leaf plates. This is a consequence of impaired air exchange in the soil. To remedy the situation, you need to reduce watering or make good drainage.
Of the pests, this flower most often affects the mealybug, spider mite, thrips and scale insects.
To combat parasites, it is necessary to rinse the brush under warm water, collect and remove those specimens that are visible, and then treat the flower with insecticidal agents for 3-4 weeks every 7 days. The solution must be applied to the crown from a spray bottle and poured over the soil, having previously diluted 4 times.