© RHS / Joanna Kossak



Botanical name: Aucuba

Common name: Spotted or Japanese laurel

These evergreen shrubs are valued for their ability to thrive in difficult conditions, such as deep shade, where many other shrubs would suffer. Use them as foliage plants in borders with other shade-loving plants, as hedging  or in large containers.


Rounded, bushy plants are covered in large, thick, glossy leaves. A number of cultivars have leaves splashed with irregular yellow spots and blotches or are variegated.


Aucuba will grow in most soils in partial to full shade, although they can also do well in sun.


Dislikes soils that are prone to staying wet. After cold and wet winters, the wetness around the roots can lead to blackening of the leaves and shoot tips. 

Did you know?

Insignificant spring flowers are followed by shiny red berries on female plants as long as a male plant is growing close by. When buying, the labels should indicate if it is a male or female form. The more compact cultivar 'Rozannie' is said to be partly self-fertile and produces some berries on its own.  

Growing guide

Aucuba we recommend

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Useful advice

Aucuba blackening

Aucuba blackening

Buying: trees and shrubs

Buying: trees and shrubs

Shade gardening

Shade gardening

Trees and shrubs: planting

Trees and shrubs: planting

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