What is the Gold Dust Plant?

The gold dust plant (Aucuba Japonica) is an evergreen shrub native to forests. It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 6a – 10b, but you can also thrive indoors with proper care. Its glossy, green leaves are speckled with gold and have a striking appearance. The stem is thin and spindly; if you allow the plant to grow tall, the stem will have to be staked.

Outdoors, the plant can grow up to 10 feet tall. As a houseplant, it should be pruned to the desired height. Although slow-growing, the plant can get leggy, so it must be constantly pruned in the spring to keep its size under control.

God Dust Plant Care sheet

Alternate names: spotted laurel, Japanese laurel, gold dust plant.

Gold dust plant care guide - growthLight Requirements

This beautiful plant needs bright but filtered light and a somewhat cool room temperature to thrive. I once put my plant outdoors in bright sun and it lost every single leaf!

However, the good news is, this is the only big mistake you could make in your gold dust plant care routine. If you keep it away from sunlight, you’re golden!

How Often Should you Water it?

The Aucuba japonica should be kept in slightly moist soil and watered once or twice per week during the growing season, depending on temperature and dryness. If you are a beginner gardener and the whole business of watering plants is the thing that keeps you from building a beautiful indoor garden, then check out our guide on best watering times, tips, and tricks!

Gold dust plant care guide - propagationBest Soil for Aucuba Japonica

A well-draining, organic potting soil is the right medium for gold dust plant care. If you are interested in the best potting soils you can get for your plant, check out our reviews and buying guide!


You can fertilize the gold dust plant once per month in the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer.


If you wish to propagate the plant, water is not the best medium.

Take a cutting, remove the lower leaves from the cutting and root it in soil mixed with vermiculite and peat moss, making sure that the leaves are above the soil.

Water and place the pot in a plastic bag to mimic a greenhouse effect and keep it away from direct sunlight.

Mist the plant as necessary to keep the soil moist.

If you want some help, we are sure our guide on the best rooting hormones for plant propagation will give you a clearer idea of what products to use and how to use them. Before you buy any rooting hormone, however, make sure you understand well if the product works well with and for your golden dust plant. Follow the instructions carefully and even discuss it with the manufacturer in case some things remain unclear.

Gold Dust Plant Frequently Asked Questions

Now, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the gold dust plant and its care!

Is the gold dust plant toxic to pets?

For more information, check out our guide on gorgeous but deadly flowers and plants you should not keep in the proximity of your pets. Just like any plants, the gold dust plant contains substances that can be harmful to dogs and cats when ingested and can lead to vomiting, nausea, dizziness, motor incoordination, and more. The same rule applies to all house plants and pets: keep them at a safe distance from each other!

Why do the aucuba plant’s leaves turn black? Is it normal?

No, it is not normal to have you aucuba leaves turning black. Aucuba is not a black stylish plant. The reason, however, for the blackening of its leaves correlates with root stress, most often linked to excess moisture/overwatering. It might also present some symptoms of root disease, so it is better to intervene at the first sign that something is not right with your plant.

How long does the aucuba plant live?

The aucuba plant can reach maturity – in ideal conditions – in up to 20 years. In these ideal conditions, it can also reach 15 feet tall. If you want your plant to thrive at its full potential, you should recreate its natural environment. It loves full shade and rich, deep, moist soil. However, as we saw above, overwatering may lead to root diseases and plant stress, so make sure that the gold dust plant’s soil is well-drained.

Remember that the Aucuba Japonica is a woodland plant, so the scorching sun will take its toll on it. While it will endure a few hours of sun in the morning, the gold dust plant thrives better in a shadier environment.

Bottom Line

We hope you enjoyed these gold dust plant care guide and growing tips. If you have any more questions on how to care for your Aucuba Japonica, feel free to ask your questions in the comments section at the end of this article! Also, if you have your own growing and care tips in regard to this plant, feel free to share them as well!

Light requirements


Shade to bright, filtered light
Soil of the philodendrons types


Rich and well-draining
Water requirements for the philodendron types


Gail Edwards
About the Author - Gail Edwards

I have been a fan of indoor plants for over 40 yearsand have over 60 plants in my home. I bought my first plant, a Schefflera, when I was a teenager and slowly began collecting and propagating different varieties of plants. Now that I am retired, I also devote time to an outdoor flower garden and a vegetable garden in the summer months. I live in Canada where the


6 thoughts on “Gold Dust Plant Care: Everything You Need to Know

  • You do not mention anywhere the depth the root ball grows down to… I need to dig out and move a mature plant, going to split it half to make 2 plants, but I need to know how deep down I need to dig before moving it… please help!!!

    • Hi Vapor, thank you for reaching out! As with all plants, the depth and width of the root ball depend on the age of the plant, the size pot it was in before planting it outside, the type of soil it is in, and many other factors. It’s really hard to tell exactly how much you need to dig, so we recommend you start digging with a delicate tool or even just gloves around the plant to see how wide the root ball is. Then you can dig around that size until you hit clear ground underneath. Don’t worry if you lose a few roots, a healthy plant can recover from that!

  • I have entire hedges around my house of acuba planted 30+ years ago and now they are dying. I cut some back and looks like they are trying to regrow. Is this possible? If so, when is the best time of year to cut the rest back?

  • Hi Gail, I inherited a beautiful indoor gold dust plant in August. It is growing consistantly from the top but for the past few weeks the bottom leaves are turning yellow and falling off. I have been watering it twice a week, not drowning it, and spritzing it. Is the bottom leaf loss normal this time of year? It had been thriving and I have not changed it’s routine. Thank you for your time.

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