Aucuba is a lovely shrub that seems to almost glitter in the shade. Propagating aucuba cuttings is a snap. In fact, aucuba is one of the easiest plants to grow from cuttings. It roots readily in rooting medium or a jar of water, and you won’t need rooting hormones or an expensive misting system. If you’ve never rooted shrub cuttings before, aucuba makes a great “starter” plant. Read on for more Japanese aucuba propagation information.
Japanese Aucuba Propagation
You can take aucuba cuttings almost any time of year, but you’ll get the best results from the fast-growing stem tips cut in spring or from semi-ripe stems cut in summer. Cut 4-inch tips early in the day, before the sun has a chance to dry them out.
Stick the cut stems in rooting medium or water following the directions below as soon as possible. If you can’t get to them right away, wrap them in a moist paper towel and place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Rooting Aucuba Cuttings in Water
Water isn’t the best medium for rooting the stems because the new roots won’t get enough oxygen. Stems rooted in water develop small, weak roots. If you decide to try it anyway, pot the cuttings up in potting soil as soon as the roots are an inch long.
Recut freshly cut stem tips while holding them under water to remove any air locks that may have developed before placing them in a jar of water. Use a sharp knife rather than shears or scissors. Remove the lower leaves so that there will be no foliage under water.
The best way to root aucuba cuttings is in rooting medium. They will develop stronger, healthier roots that won’t rot as easily.
- Fill small pots with a rooting medium that drains freely. You can make your own from one part each of sand, vermiculite and peat moss, or you can buy a commercially prepared medium. Moisten the rooting medium with water.
- Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem and cut the remaining leaves in half. The tiny new roots won’t be able to take up enough water to support large leaves.
- Stick the lower half of the cutting into the soil. The leaves should not touch the soil. Aucuba roots readily without rooting hormones.
- Place the pot in a plastic bag and fasten the top with a twist tie. If you moistened the medium well, you don’t need to water the pot while it is in the bag, but if the leaves look like they need water, mist them lightly and reclose the bag. Keep the bag away from direct sunlight.
- Test for roots by giving the stem a gentle tug. You’ll feel slight resistance if the cutting has roots. Once rooted, repot the new plant in a pot filled with fresh, new potting soil and set it near a window where it can receive moderate sunlight. A good potting soil contains enough nutrients to support the plant for several weeks.