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Aucuba Japonica Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Gold Dust” Plants

Read our guide to Aucuba Japonica for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Gold Dust” Plants
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Adding a new indoor plant to your home or business is a great way to break up the monotony and brighten the space. There are several types of indoor plants to choose from depending on your level of skill and your climate.

The gold dust plant is a durable indoor plant that is suitable for all levels of gardener. This forest-dwelling evergreen will bring nature indoors and delight viewers with its gold-flecked lush green leaves.

You can let this lovely plant grow tall indoors or can keep it small and delightful on a pot on your table. It is a slow-growing plant that will thrive for many years when well cared for. If you ever decide to move it outdoors, expect it to reach heights as high as 10 feet. The Aucuba Japonica is really the perfect plant for indoors, greenhouses, back porches, or anywhere you want a touch of nature.

Growing and caring for the gold dust plant is rather easy. These long-lived plants do well with periodic pruning, medium amounts of sun, and plenty of TLC.

With a bit of shade and a lot of moist soil, the gold dust plant will grace your home or garden for generations to come. If you are interested in learning more about the gold dust plant, we have more information in our guide below.

About the Gold Dust Plant

  • The gold dust plant is a forest native shrub.
  • This is an evergreen plant that will stay green during all seasons.
  • The botanical name of the gold dust plant is Aucuba Japonica.
  • Most Aucuba Japonica are grown outdoors but can thrive indoors with the right care.
  • The gold dust plant has male and female versions.
  • Small purple flowers sprout on the plants every spring.
  • Pollinated flowers from the gold dust plant will result in bright red berries during the winter months.
  • The berries on the gold dust plant are not edible.
  • Leaves of the gold dust plant are dark green, glossy, and have gold flecks.
  • The Aucuba is a woodland plant.
  • The plant will grow tall if left unclipped, which will result in a need for support staking.
  • In the wild, or when planted outside, the Aucuba Japonica will grow as tall as 10 feet.
Aucuba Japonica
Aucuba Japonica

Gold Dust Plant Features: An Overview

  • The gold dust plant is a slow-growing forest shrub.
  • When grown indoors, it must be pruned often to prevent overgrowth.
  • The gold dust plant is also known as Japanese laurel and spotted laurel.
  • The plant grows best in filtered light and cooler room temperatures.
  • The gold dust plant is toxic for cats and dogs.
  • Organic well-draining potting mix is best for the gold dust plant.
  • The gold dust plant can live for as long as 20 years.
  • Mature gold dust plants have been known to grow as high as 15 feet tall.
  • The aucuba plant thrives in shaded areas that feature moist, healthy soil.

Growing The Gold Dust Plant

If you are a beginner gardener the gold dust plant is a great starter that will be very easy to grow and care for. Many newbies struggle with house plants due to strict watering and climate requirements, but with this plant, things are much easier.

Make sure to house your plant in organic potting soil. It should be well-draining to prevent root rot, but loose enough to support proper root growth.

The best way to fertilize the gold dust plant is to use a fertilizer that is water-soluble once monthly. Outside of the growing season, fertilize the plant with a weakened water-soluble houseplant fertilizer every six weeks.

Leaf Detail
Leaf Detail

The gold dust plant can grow in regular garden dirt or even infertile soil which makes a great option for plant owners who are looking to revitalize existing soil. Once matured, the gold dust plant is generally resistant to drought though maintaining moist soil is best for its overall health.

If the leaves on your aucuba plant start to turn black, chances are it is suffering from some form of root stress. Too much water can cause stress on the roots which will manifest in the leaves. Although this plant is easy to grow and care for, it is important not to overwater or over-fertilize it. In rare cases, black leaves may also be a sign of disease. The gold dust plant is highly resilient and can live for as long as 20 years with the proper care.

Watering The Gold Dust Plant

The aucuba japonica is easy to water. The soil should always remain a bit moist and during the growing season, make sure to water the plant once weekly. In hotter climates, you can water the plant twice a week or every three days to prevent the soil from getting dried out. A well-draining organic soil will ensure the right amount of moisture is maintained for the roots without getting too soggy.

You can add the gold dust plant to your indoor garden or even your patio with a dramatic effect. Use containers that have plenty of drain holes in the bottom to prevent root rot from stagnant water.

Gold Dust Variegated Aucuba Plant, From Amazon

On the topic of watering, it is best to water this plant by pouring tepid water directly on the soil. Watering the top of the leaves can encourage fungal growth such as leaf spot. Too much water can lead to root rot and the eventual death of the plant. Along with well-draining soil, make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

A mature gold dust plant can grow as tall as a house and live for up to two decades. They love healthy soil and shaded spaces, so consider planting them on the side of your home that doesn’t face the sun. In soil that is well-drained the plant will thrive without becoming dehydrated, but make sure that it is watered often enough that the soil remains slightly moist.

Propagating The Gold Dust Plant

Propagating the aucuba japonica plant is simple. Start by choosing a mature plant and selecting a section to cut. Take a generous cutting, and then remove any leaves on the lower portion of the stem. Place your aucuba japonica cutting in fresh organic soil that has been mixed with peat moss and vermiculite. No leaves should be planted below the soil when propagating a gold dust plant.

The aucuba japonica does tend to grow very well, so you can also consider propagating in the spring during your regular pruning session. You would follow the same steps listed above, just make sure that you have a healthy cutting to start off your new plant. Your gold dust plant cuttings should be watered well, potted, and then covered with a plastic bag. This will create a greenhouse-like atmosphere that supports optimal growth and strong roots.

New gold dust cuttings and plants should not be exposed to harsh or direct sunlight. Misting is suggested to keep the soil moist and the plant well watered while in its immature stage. You can also use rooting hormones to give your gold dust plant a boost, or you can nurture your cutting on your own until it has safely rooted in the new soil.

Shoots on a Gold Dust plant
Shoots on a Gold Dust plant

In Conclusion

The gold dust plant is a great house plant or even a garden plant for those who are new to providing personal plant care. It is a slow-growing plant that needs to be kept out of direct sunlight but thrives both indoors and outdoors. It needs to be watered once or twice a great week for absent-minded plant owners and new gardeners.

This tropical plant is aesthetically pleasing with dark green leaves that are covered in attractive golden flecks. If you are looking for a creative forest plant to add to your home or garden, the aucuba japonica is a great choice. If you have small children or pets, it is important to make sure they don’t ingest this plant because it is toxic. Like most houseplants, it can cause motor incoordination, vomiting, dizziness, or worse.

The gold dust plant is generally resistant to pests, but like most house plants can fall victim to a few common aggressors. Scale insects, aphids, and mealybugs can be controlled by introducing ladybugs to your plants or occasionally spraying the plant with water. This plant plays well with others and only needs to be pruned once or twice yearly.

The Aucuba japonica has both female and male plants. Though most people keep these plants for their beautiful leaves, they do produce tiny purple flowers in the spring. If the flowers are pollinated, they will produce red berries that will stay on the plant throughout the winter.

Hollie Carter

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at or follow on twitter

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