Click for previous Image Image 1 of 2 Aucuba japonica var. borealis Japanese Aucuba

Aucuba japonica var. borealis cuttings just potted

Aucuba japonica var. borealis

Japanese Aucuba

Plant Type:


Aucuba japonica var. borealis – This is the hardiest of all among the growing list of Japanese Aucuba cultivars. It’s a beauty with a display of rich, glossy dark green foliage on a mounding and compact plant. Leaves are smaller and narrower than many of the available selections. It survived the hard USDA zone 5b winter of 2009 planted in a sheltered spot along the north foundation of our home. We had abundant snowfall but very many cold days and nights with at least 3 nights bottoming-out in the lower minus teens. When the snow melted it looked perfect. Only after the seemingly endless rains that followed well into July that very odd year did several branches blacken presumably from too wet conditions. But in the following December at the time of this writing the remainder of the shrub is unscathed and looks beautiful. Under cover of snow in the hard winter of 2011 also with several nights down to minus 10F and lower it emerged from the melting snow with out a single damaged blade, as fresh and green as it had looked the previous autumn. One important point: this particular variety appears to especially abhor too much water. Too constantly wet conditions are an anathema to its well being. We have yet to attempt it in the more open shade garden. Aucuba japonica var. borealis is a female form. This amazing cold hardy form may grow larger farther south... but why would southern gardeners want this form with so many spectacular cultivars available to you? Northern gardeners really should consider attempting this broadleaf evergreen.


4 ft


4 ft


5 (sheltered) to 9
What is my hardiness zone?

Characteristics and Attributes for Aucuba japonica var. borealis

Season of Interest (Foliage)

  • Four Seasons

Autumn Interest

  • Fruit / Berries / Seed Heads


  • Morning Sun / Afternoon Shade
  • Dappled Shade
  • Shade


  • Massing
  • Foundation
  • Border
  • Specimen
  • Potted Plant
  • Shrub Border
  • Foliage
  • Greenhouse / Alpine House
  • Hedge
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Hedgerow
  • Evergreen

Growth Rate in the Garden

  • Slow


  • Draining
  • Fertile
  • Organic


  • Japan

Propagated By

  • Cutting Grown

Genus Overview: Aucuba

The Japanese Aucuba now comes in many different forms. They are very useful broadleaf evergreens where they can be grown making beautiful hedges, components in foundation gardens or in mixed company. They prefer siting in dappled to fully open shade but can tolerate some morning sun. Winter shade is a basic need for healthier looking foliage; winter sun can wash out foliage making the leaves look sickly. All Aucubas prefer fertile draining soil with added organic matter. They can tolerate some drought once established. All of the following cultivars are cutting grown.