Japanese Aucuba - Sausage Tree

There are not many shrubs and trees among ornamental deciduous plants. The most interesting variations of the mottled patterns on the luxurious leaves are offered by the rare, but therefore even more valuable, aucuba. Despite the presence of bright berries and many unique features, this beauty is considered one of the brightest exotics precisely for the patterns on the leaves. In growing, the aucuba is not the easiest plant to grow. But all it needs is cool wintering and regular standard care. © pflanzmich

The plants of the genus Aucuba (Aucuba) represent the Garry family (Garryaceae) in room culture, although previously they were referred to the Cetaceae. This plant is a typical inhabitant of humid subtropics. In nature, you can find aucubus only in the forests of eastern Asia. As an ornamental plant aucuba began to be considered just after its importation into Europe, by the beginning of the 19th century the plant was widely distributed in the room and greenhouse culture.

Aucuba - dicotyledonous evergreen shrubs and trees. Even in nature, their maximum height is limited to 3 m. The leaves sit supropode, large, lanceolate or oval-lanceolate, with a pointed tip. The shoots are thin but sturdy. Basic species are rare, superseded by varieties and ornamental forms with original small or large speckles on the leaves. Aucuba blooms can be disappointing, but when grown as male and female plants and cross-pollinated, very beautiful berries ripen afterwards. Outwardly, the fruits of the aucuba most resemble those of the dogwood.

In room culture, aucubas are mostly represented by a plant that has earned the nickname of the sausage or golden tree - Aucuba japonica (Aucuba japonica). The shoots are green even after the woody growth. The oval-lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate leaves of the plant appear ornate and bright. The maximum length of the leaves is up to 20 cm with a width of about 6 cm. The leaf edge can be either solid or serrated. On the bright green base color appears speckles and spots of varying size and shape, but always golden in color. The play of mottled patterns on the bright surface is what gave rise to the nickname of Sausage Tree. The speckled patterns do resemble a slice of sausage or a slice of goldenrod. When cross-pollinated, bright red fruits set on the bushes.

Basic variety, the species plant on sale is quite rare. Japanese aucuba is represented mainly by varieties and ornamental forms. The most popular even today remain:

  • Variegata with small golden speckles all over the leaf surface;
  • painted form with yellow center and dark green edges of leaf plates;
  • marbled form with beautiful creamy-golden mottling on the leaves;
  • long-leaved form with narrow lanceolate leaves, something resembling willows;
  • Golden form with almost yellow foliage;
  • Fingered form with decorated toothed edges of elongate-oval leaves;
  • Crotonate form with white and golden spots on leaves;
  • The "Gold Dust" variety, which has almost no basic dark green coloration under the numerous spots on the leaves;
  • the dark-leaved "Hillieri" variety.
Japanese aucuba - sausage tree
Aucuba japonica variety 'Daisuke's Tiger'. © Mark Weathington
Japanese aucuba - sausage tree
Aucuba Japanese variety "Natsu-no-kumo". © Mark Weathington
Japanese aucuba - sausage tree
Aucuba Japanese variety "Ooba Nakafu". © Mark Weathington

In addition to the Japanese aucuba, the Aucuba himalaica (Aucuba himalaica) is a larger plant with dark green, lanceolate leaves and bright orange berries. The leaf patterns are more faded and the base color itself is a muted dark green. Because of its narrow leaves and less brightness, it is considered a less attractive plant.

Home Care for Aucuba

Aucubas are rightly considered hardy and unpretentious plants. They do not require complicated care, are forgiving of blunders, and are resistant to changing conditions. In fact, there is only one difficulty in growing this plant - cool overwintering. After all, even to different lighting, the aucuba adapts very well.

When working with the aucuba it is worth remembering about the poisonous nature of all parts of the plant and take measures to protect skin and mucous membranes from contact with the plant.

Lighting for aucuba

It is one of the most undemanding to light bushes. Aucuba grows well in any light - both in light diffused (without direct sunlight), and in the penumbra, and in the shade. The ability to tolerate even strong shading without stretching in growth allows the plant to be actively used in decoration of the interior of rooms. Flowering and fruiting suffer from shading, but since it already depends on cross-pollination, this effect is not considered great damage. The intensity of colors and number of spots can decrease in strong shade.

In winter it is better to move the plant to a more light place, but only if it is possible to move the shrub to a new place without changing the temperature regime. If the Aucuba is overwintering in the warmth, the plant is put out in places with bright diffused light.

For the Aucuba, northern window sills and similar light will be fine.

Japanese aucuba - sausage tree
Aucuba japonica. © pflanzmich

Comfortable temperature regime

Aucuba belongs to room plants, very poorly tolerant of heat. It is best to grow this culture in a cool environment, with temperatures between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius during even the summer. The maximum temperature at which the plant does not start to age faster and lose its leaves is 20 degrees Celsius. Choosing the coldest rooms and north-facing rooms, it will be difficult to go wrong.

The winter maintenance regime for the aucuba should be even cooler. The maximum temperature at which the plant will retain its ornamental qualities is 13-14 degrees. The higher the air temperature in winter, the faster the aucuba will shed its leaves and lose its beauty. The temperature minimum for the plant is 5 degrees of heat, but it is better if the air temperature does not go down to 7 degrees. Partially compensate too high temperatures for this plant can only be compensated by a maximum increase in lighting and very high air humidity.

Aukuba can be taken out into the fresh air in the summer months if desired. When placed on balconies and in the garden the plant must be protected from bright light, precipitation and draughts.

Watering and air humidity

For the aucuba it is important to maintain stable soil humidity, but you should protect the plant from excessive overwatering. Watering for aucuba is carried out rarely, changing only the amount of water: during the phase of active growth aucuba watered abundantly, but during the resting phase - a small amount of water. This plant can be considered drought-tolerant, but skipping should not be repeated regularly, because if the drying of the substrate will threaten the plant continuously, aucuba rapidly loses its decorative effect. Between waterings in summer give dry out only the top layer of soil in the pots, in winter dry out the substrate partially and in the middle layer. Water from the trays must be drained a few minutes after watering.

The humidity of the air when kept in the optimum temperature regime for the aucuba is not important: in the coolness this plant will put up with even the driest air. But any deviation from the recommended temperature upwards requires compensation in the form of a sharp increase in air humidity. In summer the plant is sprayed, guided by the loss of decorativeness and appearance, but in autumn and winter at high temperatures aucuba provide careful frequent spraying or raise the humidity to 70% by installing a humidifier. If kept in cold weather spraying is not carried out or carried out very carefully.

Aukuba japonica can be watered and sprayed only with soft settled water slightly warmer than air temperature

Japanese aucuba - sausage tree
Aukuba japonica. © dobbies

Fertilizers for Aucuba japonica

For the period of active growth, from the beginning of spring to the end of summer, Aucuba is fertilized by introducing standard fertilizers with a frequency of 1 every 10 days.

The type of fertilizers for this plant can be selected at your discretion. Aucuba responds well to organic fertilizers, but you can also use universal fertilizers for houseplants. If possible, it is better to alternate mineral and organic fertilizers.

Trimming and shaping the Japanese Aucuba

For the Japanese Aucuba to remain attractive and compact, the plant needs regular shaping. It is preferable for the aucuba to be pruned immediately after transplanting or in early spring in years when transplanting is not done.

Transplanting and substrate

Aucuba is very afraid of root injury, and transplanting for this shrub is carried out no more than once every 2-3 years, as needed. Before the roots will completely braid the ground lump and begin to show from the drainage holes, touching the plant is undesirable.

Aukuba can not worry about finding a special soil mixture to grow. If the substrate is loose enough, water- and air permeable, the plant will feel very well in it. You can use universal substrates for the aucuba. If you mix the soil yourself, it is better to make complex mixtures:

  • substrate of peat, sand, leaf and sod soil in the proportion 2:1:2:6;
  • substrate of equal parts of leaf and sod soil, humus, peat and sand.

Aucuba grows well on hydroponics and in pots with automatic watering.

Aucuba of all species and varieties use wide, spacious pots. In narrow containers, its root system suffers.

When transplanting, avoid contact with the roots and remove only the top layer of contaminated soil, turning the plant with preservation of the root ball. Drainage is mandatory.

Japanese aucuba - sausage tree
Transplanting the Japanese aucuba. © Monsieur duJardin

Diseases and pests of the Japanese aucuba

The greatest danger to the aucuba is rot. With any excessive moisture or the wrong choice of dense soil, the plant suffers greatly, black spots appear on the leaves, indicating a problem. If detected in time, it can be dealt with by simple care adjustments. Emergency transplants are ineffective: root injuries most often lead to the death of the plant.

From pests on aucubas occur only powdery worms and spider mites, which are better to fight immediately with insecticides.

Prevalent problems in cultivation:

  • color changes, loss of spots in insufficient light or soil depletion;
  • pale leaves in too bright light;
  • fall of leaves in absence of nutrition;
  • yellowing of lower leaves with gradual falling off: temperature spikes or watering problems;
  • drying of the tops and yellowing of the upper leaves if the light is too bright;
  • shallowing of leaves with improper fertilization and substrate depletion;
  • appearance of black spots on the leaves if warm wintering without compensatory care.

Propagation of Aucuba

Japanese Aucuba, and other species of indoor Aucuba, are propagated only by cuttings. Cuttings can be cut during the whole stage of active development. Both spring and summer cuttings root equally well. Shrubs can be rooted from the tops of shoots or stem cuttings, but it is when using the tops that you can get decorative bushes faster. Cut cuttings from last year's branches, leaving 2-3 leaves and making a standard oblique cut. Cuttings of aucuba can be rooted only in the substrate (sandy or sandy-peat). For rooting, you need a stable temperature (about 21 degrees) and stable humidity. Immediately after rooting the plants are dipped into individual containers and standard substratum. © Loree Bohl

You can also obtain a plant from seed, but this method does not retain the varietal characteristics of the plants. Cross-pollination is done with a soft brush, and the seeds ripen slowly, allowing the berries to fully mature before harvesting. Only fresh seeds are used for sowing, so it is very difficult to find aucuba seeds on sale. Seeds lose germination very quickly, and even after a month you can not get any plants from them. Sowing is carried out in a peat-sandy earth mixture, sowing on a wet substrate and slightly covering with soil. If you cover with glass or film and the temperature is about 21 degrees, you will have to wait a few months before the emergence of sprouts. The humidity of the soil should be kept constant. Picking into individual containers is carried out only after the appearance of the third true leaf.

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