Aucuba japonica 'Variegata' or Aucuba plant is a woody, evergreen shrub grown outdoors in warm areas. Its yellow-speckled, shiny green leaves look as if they've been splattered with gold paint or sprinkled with gold dust which is why this Aucuba is commonly called the gold dust plant.
Another name for it is spotted laurel.
The dramatic coloring is most pronounced when the plant is grown in bright light but Aucuba can also be used to brighten up a shady spot.
If you grow both male and female plants, the females will bear bunches of half inch scarlet berries to add to the color show during the winter.
The small flowers which precede these berries appear in the spring and are not showy. They form in the leaf axils where they are well hidden. Birds are not fond of the red fruits, so they will remain on the plant throughout the holiday season.
Left to grow as it likes, Aucuba japonica will become a 7 foot tall and wide, sprawling bush. You can keep it as petite as you like with regular pruning.
The variegated gold dust plant is hardy into zone 7 but there are specimens growing nicely in protected micro climates as far north as zone 6.
This plant will perform best when planted in composted soil with good drainage. Keep it reasonably moist and feed it 3 times per year (spring, summer and fall) with any balanced fertilizer.
The Aucuba plant is sensitive to root knot nematodes so avoid planting it where other Aucubas, azaleas, or rhododendrons have died before.
Composting the soil prior to planting will also help plants survive in nematode infested soil.
Another option would be to remove the top foot of soil from the root zone before planting the shrub as nematodes only move a few inches into the soil.
Spotted laurel growing in the shade of bamboo and banana plants.