· John Heider's Answer
· Hi Mo-A good time to prune the Aucuba is March to late spring. The Aucuba japonica tolerates heavy pruning without any problems and recovers fairly quickly.
At this time I would prune the plant back 1/3 of its size. Prune the stems back to within an inch or so of a leaf bud. This way you won't end up with a plant with ugly leafless stems sticking out. The plant sounds as though it has grown quite large and may be looking somewhat woody at the base or just to large for its location. This can be improved by cutting out one-stem-in-three each year starting with the oldest stems, until the whole plant has been rejuvenated. This way new bottom growth will start to fill in the bottom portion of the plant at the same time you still have a nice size plant filling your landscape or garden. If you would like to prune out a few more larger stems than this to acquire the size plant you want within a few years you can do so. This plant will recover nicely. This is also a good time to prune out any damaged or dead stems within the plant. Be sure to use a sharp pair of hand pruners for the smaller stems and loppers for the older or larger stems. It is best never to use hedge trimmers as these cut and tear the beautiful leaves leaving a somewhat battered looking aucuba.
I noted below a link to an article you may be interested in regarding 'How To Prune Shrubs'. Just click on this link to go directly to this article in Gardenality.http://www.gardenality.com/Articles/329/How-To-Info/Pruning/How-To-Prune-Shrubs/How-To-Prune-Shrubs.html
Hope this helped - John)