HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
To the family of Cornaceae belongs toAucuba, a sturdy and highly decorative houseplant and garden plant from Japan, highly prized for its thick, colorful foliage and glossy red berries.
Clado: Euasteride I
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
L'Aucuba is a splendid plant belonging to the family of Cornaceae native to the Himalayas, China and Japan.
They are evergreen shrub plants that resemble thelaurel (so much so that theAucuba japonica, it is also called spotted laurel), widely used for ornamental purposes both as houseplants and hedges.
The leaves they are lanceolate - oval long from 2 cm to 7 cm with smooth or indented margins depending on the species with characteristic creases and mostly leathery consistency.
THE flowers they are small (4-8 mm), with four violet-brown petals that bloom from March to April.
The Aucuba are dioecious plants, that is to say that the male flowers and the female flowers are brought by different plants so if they want to obtain the characteristic berries, it is necessary that a "male" plant be planted next to a "female" plant.
The fruit it is a red berry that persists for several months.
THE seeds ripen from October to February.
This delightful plant is now found almost everywhere in Europe and America, in the temperate climate areas, thanks to the beauty of its leaves, its relative rusticity and the beauty of its fruits that give a touch of grace and joy.
There are three species belonging to the genus Aucuba:
Aucuba japonica is the most cultivated and widespread species characterized by having oval, glossy leaves with serrated edges.It produces delicious red berries that ripen between October and November.It is a plant that grows on average 2-3 m but if finds the optimal growth conditions it becomes a tree up to 10-15 m tall and more.
There are numerous varieties and hybrids three of which we remember:
Aucuba japonica var. varied (photo below) characterized by leaves provided with small yellow spots so as to be called the gold dust plant.
Aucuba japonica var. picturata (photo below) whose leaves have a large yellow spot in the central part.
Aucuba japonica var. crotonifolia (photo below) characterized by leaves so streaked with yellow that the green parts of the leaf almost disappear.
L'Aucuba chinensis they are shrubs that reach 3-6 m in height with densely pubescent branches, light green leaves on the lower side and dark green on the upper one, elliptical, 7-25 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, with serrated edges.
It also produces the characteristic berries of the species. It grows spontaneously in Asian forests between 300 - 1000 m of altitude.
Also for this species there are numerous varieties among which we remember: Aucuba chinensis var. angustifolia; Aucuba chinensis var.obcordata;Aucuba chinensis var.subintegra.
L'Aucuba himalaica as the name implies, it is native to the Himalayas, with oval leaves with smooth edges, of a beautiful intense green color without streaks and produces the characteristic berries of the species.
L'Aucuba it is an easy to grow plant.
It has no particular problems regarding the location, however the optimal position is with moderate sun, preferably in partial shade.
It tolerates dry soils and drought, salty winds and air pollution.
It resists temperatures down to -15 ° C and does not like temperatures above 20 ° C.
L'Aucuba, although it is a very tolerant plant and resistant even to periods of drought, it prefers good watering, making sure that the soil dries up between one watering and another.
It does not tolerate water stagnation.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
L'Aucuba it is repotted in spring every 2-3 years.
It is not particularly demanding in terms of land. In any case, it develops well in soils rich in organic substance and very well draining as it does not tolerate water stagnation that can cause rotting of the root system.
An important precaution, if the Aucuba is to be planted outdoors, is to arrange the soil in advance by mixing organic substance that improves the structure and choose a location that is not in the valleys or in the hollows that would create dangerous water stagnations.
In the spring-summer period it is advisable to fertilize ours Aucuba with a good liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks by adding it to the irrigation water.
During the other periods the fertilizations must be suspended.
Using complete fertilizers, that is to say that we have both macro elements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and micro elements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn ), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
Slightly reduce the doses compared to what is stated on the package.
L'Aucuba it blooms in spring, between April and May, giving flowers that are not particularly showy but which give rise to delicious, very persistent, bright red drupeds that stand out among the green foliage.
Remember that it is a dioecious plant, meaning that the male flowers and the female flowers are brought by different plants so if you want to have the berries you have to plant both a female plant and a male plant (nurserymen should know!). It is a way of knowing from the leaves and the external appearance, if the plant you have purchased is "female" or "male", you have to wait for flowering because obviously the male plants will have anthers while the female plants will have the pistil.
The Aucuba they can be pruned to contain their development and to give particular shapes for example as a hedge, at the beginning of the vegetative restart, in spring.
Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.
L'Aucuba it multiplies by cutting or by seed. In choosing the technique to be adopted, it is necessary to keep in mind that the multiplication by seed has the disadvantage that, taking over the genetic variability, it is not certain that there will be plants equal to the mother plants, in which case if you want to obtain a very specific plant or you are not sure of the quality of the seed you are using, it is good to do the multiplication by cuttings.
MULTIPLICATION FOR TALEA
The cutting can be taken at any time between September and February, preferably between October and November.
The cuttings should be about 15-20 cm long and even longer by cutting them immediately below the node.
It is recommended to cut with a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying of the fabrics, taking care that the tool used for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting fabrics. .
After removing the lower leaves, the cut part is immersed in a rhizogenic powder to facilitate rooting. Then the cuttings are arranged in a compost made up of a part of peat and a coarse sand. Holes are made with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings and they are arranged as shown in the photo. Then take care to gently compact the soil and water when you notice that the soil becomes dry.
Once the first shoots begin to appear, it means that the Aucuba has taken root. At that point, treat it as an adult plant but take care that the following winter the plant is kept in a protected environment.
MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
If you plan to sow in pots or in seedbeds, the seeds of Aucuba should be sown in October in a compote consisting of three parts of fertile soil and one of coarse sand buried to a depth of 0.5 cm. from the pulpy coating because this could inhibit germination.
The tray containing the Aucuba seeds should be kept in the shade, at a temperature of around 15 ° C and it is essential that the soil is constantly humid (use a sprayer to completely moisten the soil) until the moment of germination.
The tray should be covered with a transparent plastic sheet (or a glass plate) that will guarantee a good temperature and will avoid too rapid drying of the soil.Once the seeds have germinated (usually after 1-3 months), remove the cloth plastic and move the cassette to a brighter position (not direct sun).
Among all the plants born, surely there will be those less vigorous than others. Identify and eliminate them in this way you will guarantee more space for the most robust plants.When they are large enough to be manipulated (5-6 cm), you will transplant them, in any case being very careful not to spoil any part of the plant (it would be preferable to use a fork for these operations. that you will put under the ground to take the whole seedling and put it in the new pot) in a soil as indicated for adult plants and treated as such.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
Aucuba are not plants that are particularly prone to diseases. In any case, the pathologies that can be encountered are the following:
The leaves appear scorched
This is the typical symptoms of excessive sun exposure.
Remedies: move the plant to a shady place.
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in the presence of cochineals and in particular the brown cochineal. To be sure, it is recommended that you make use of a magnifying glass and observe yourself. Compare them with the photo on the side. They are features, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.
Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant must be rinsed very well to eliminate all soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.
Spots on the underside of the leaves
Spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in presence of cochineal and in particular mealy cochineal. To be sure, it is recommended that you make use of a magnifying glass and observe yourself. Compare it with the photo on the side. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.
Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap, rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant is varisced very well to eliminate all the soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.
Necrotic spots on all parts of the plant
This symptomatology, where necrotic spots are highlighted on the leaves, at the base of the petioles and the flower peduncles that appear soft because they rot and a grayish-colored mold develops, are the symptom of the presence of gray mold, a fungus, theBotrytis spp.
Remedies: immediately eliminate the infected parts and treat with a specific fungicide. The remedies against Botrytis are first of all preventive, as this fungus is favored by excessive humidity in the air and too much watering.
L'Aucuba was introduced in Europe in 1783 by the botanist John Goefer who did not notice that the specimens he had introduced were all female so he could not get the berries.Only fifty years later, in 1840 also male plants were introduced and so the species began to proliferate and spread (and to produce the legendary red berries).