Botanical Name: Aucuba japonica
Origin: The majority of Gold Dust Plants consists of cultivars with parents originating from China or Japan.
Height: Kept indoors, Aucuba japonica plants typically grow to heights of around 90 cm (3 ft). Pruning regularly will assist in keeping these shrubs down to manageable sizes. Outside, plants can grow as tall as 3 m (9 ft).
Soil: This house plant is usually quite happy in any quality potting mix.
Light: Gold Dust Plants require plenty of bright, but indirect light. A little direct, cool morning sun should not harm this plant.
Humidity: Levels of humidity need to be moderate for Gold Dust Plants, so if conditions are particularly dry, they may need to be raised a little with a the help of a wet pebble tray.
Temperatures: Aucuba japonica is typically content with temperatures ranging around a cool 7 to 18 degrees C (45 to 65 degrees F) and, if kept as an outdoor plant, will tolerate temperatures as low as -15 degrees C (5 degrees F).
Water: The potting mix for this plant should be kept evenly moistened from spring through into late autumn. As the plant's growth slows down during the winter months, winter watering should be reduced a little.
Fertiliser: Gold Dust Plants should be fed with a liquid fertiliser (balanced; diluted by half) on a monthly basis from the onset of spring right through to the end of autumn.
Propagation: Aucuba japonica can be propagated from seeds (should be sown in spring) or stem tip cuttings (which should be approximately 10 cm/ 4 in in length) rooted in moistened potting mix. The best time to take cuttings is, like for most other plants, spring or early summer.
Description and Care Tips
A heavy dusting of golden-yellow spots or golden yellow central areas/ margins (depending on the selected variety, see image above for examples) on leathery, mid-green leaves make Gold Dust Plants a cheery addition to house plant collections.
Because Aucuba japonica, an evergreen shrub belonging to the Garryaceae family, adapts extremely well to life indoors, it requires very little care to provide a lasting, beautiful accent among selections of perhaps less showy foliage plants.
Growing well in pots, all this plant needs is regular watering, a cool environment shaded from direct sunlight and the occasional pruning to control its size.
Although Gold Dust Plants are comparatively slow growing, they can get quite tall and begin to appear a little leggy in time. To keep them at a manageable size and encourage branching, resulting in a fuller, bushier look, the plant's stems should be pruned back hard at the beginning of spring.
Pruning should be done with clean, sharp pruners (to prevent tearing and/ or transmission of pests/ diseases from other plants), cutting stems just above leaf/ branch nodes at a 45 degree angle.
Spring, by the way, is also the best time to repot this house plant. Younger, relatively small plants should be given a pot just one size larger than the previous container every two to three years, while plants that have reached the desired size can be left in the same pot - all they will require is top-dressing (removing and replacing top 5 to 7.5 cm/ 2 to 3 in of potting mix).
Giving the gorgeous leaves an occasional wipe with a soft, damp cloth will keep them dust free and beautifully shiny.