Oleander is a beautiful shrub that blooms all summer long.
Summary of key Oleander facts
Name – Nerium oleander
Family – Apocynceae or dogbane
Type – shrub, bay
Height – 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary, well drained
Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – from June to September
Pruning, caring for and watering oleander helps increase flowering, growth and avoid diseases. Take note, though, that this beauty comes at a price. The entire plant is highly toxic, and ingesting a single leaf can be fatal even to adults. In some places it’s also considered invasive.
Oleander planting, when done correctly, ensures that it sets in and develops well. Planting is a critical step.
Planting oleander directly in the ground
Preferably done in fall or spring, planting oleander is an important step because it guarantees that the shrub will develop correctly.
Choose a sun-bathed area, sheltered from stronger winds. Amend the dirt in your garden with soil mix to ensure proper drainage and access to nutrients for your oleander.
- Follow our advice to plant it successfully.
Adding tomato or vegetable fertilizer is a particularly effective trick to produce abundant flowers all summer long.
Planting oleander in pots or garden boxes
Planting oleander in pots or garden boxes is perfectly possible and even recommended in regions where it freezes in the winter.
Similarly to planting directly in the ground, choose again a place that is well exposed to the sun and sheltered from wind.
- Set the shrub in soil mix because, since it is in a pot, this will help roots develop.
- Soil mix ensures that water will be retained as long as possible, and will also provide the organic matter needed for it to grow.
- In summer, feel free to mulch the base of your oleander plants to keep the roots sufficiently moist.
- In winter, bring your plant indoors, in a light-bathed place that may be cool but that will not freeze, like a greenhouse without any heating.
More so than with oleander planted in the ground, soil mix in pots quickly loses its nutritional value. Adding tomato fertilizer is a definite “plus” to continue producing abundant flowers.
Making cuttings is the easiest and fastest technique to propagate oleander.
Traditionally, oleander cuttings are most successful in August but it is perfectly possible to start a bit earlier, in June or July.
Pruning and caring for oleander
Even though it isn’t required, pruning oleander may serve to boost flowering and thicken the bush.
But take note that oleander flowers only on wood stems from the previous year, so it’s better to not prune it all at once since this would lead to a year without flowers.
The idea is to prune ⅓ of the branches every year (as in, “one in three”), so that you cover the entire bush within three years.
As for regular care, oleander can get by with very little care once it is comfortably settled in.
Pruning oleander planted in the ground
At the very beginning of spring,
- Prune ⅓ of the branches to around ⅓ of their length for the shrub to recover its vigor.
- You can easily cut back even to 20 inches (50 cm) without any dire consequences since oleander are not set back by pruning.
- In the case that oleander has frozen over during the winter, the blackened branches must be removed entirely since they won’t grow back.
Pruning oleander planted in pots
After flowering and before bringing your potted oleander in for the winter, cut back ⅓ of the branches to half their length to maintain a nice, tight silhouette.
Every year, proceed to pruning again another third of the branches so that the whole of the shrub is pruned over a three-year cycle.
Winterizing oleander against freezing
If you live in a zone where there is little or no freezing, you can leave oleander outdoors without any manner of protection.
But if it freezes in your zone, protect your oleander with a winterizing cover.
- Depending on the cultivar, hardiness can overcome temperatures as low as 5°F (-15°C) but young oleander will always be the better for having been well winterized.
- Mulching the foot of the shrub and a winterizing cover are the best protections possible against freezing.
What is to be done if leaves turn yellow?
In most cases, it is either a water supply problem or a problem related to freezing.
- Oleander requires planting in well drained soil, because any water excess leads to yellowing leaves that turn brown and fall off.
- In summer, water generously when it is hot, especially for potted oleander.
- If in pots, check that the bottom has drainage holes for excess water to flow out.
- If in the ground, do mix sand into the soil and add pebbles or clay pebbles at the bottom of the hole to increase drainage.
Oleander that has frozen over
- Oleander is vulnerable to strong frost spells.
- If branches have dried off together with leaves in the spring, remove impacted parts by simply cutting them off just below the damaged zone, and your oleander will recover normally.
- If the whole shrub is hit, there is a strong chance that it will not survive.
Diseases and parasites attacking oleander
Oleander is vulnerable to several diseases and parasites, often resulting in yellowing leaves or white marks.
Correct watering and adding a good dose of fertilizer is often enough to strengthen it and let it fight back the diseases.
Regularly applying Bordeaux mixture acts as a deterrent against most types of fungus such as leaf spot septoriosis due to Septoria nerii.
- Scale insects – a white-colored accretion forms that resembles cotton.
- Oleander knot or nerium canker – small brown and round spots develop on leaves.
- Aphids – leaves curl up and turn black before finally falling off.
Learn more about oleander
This shrub produces beautiful white or pink flowers all summer long. Its long leaves are typical of Mediterranean plant flora.
Use in hedges, wind-breakers or simply standing alone. Oleander needs mulch in winter to protect its leaves and roots from the cold.
In summer, water in abundance during heat waves, especially for oleander in pots.
Easy to care for and to grow, oleander is without doubt one of the most beautiful summer-flowering shrubs.
Trigger massive flower-bearing with fertilizer suited to tomatoes and vegetables.
- In summer, propagate oleander with cuttings, it’s very easy!
- Ideas of flowering shrubs for colorful hedges
- Hedges, great barriers against diseases
- Find other summer-flowering shrubs
Smart tip about oleander
When watering in the summer, choose to water in the evening to avoid evaporation.
Watch out for the plant’s toxicity: coming in hand or mouth contact with the plant is dangerous for health. Wear gloves and teach children not to play with it.
Oleander on social media
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Oleander flowers, a pair by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Seed pods on an oleander tree by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Yellow bugs on oleander by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Oleander with white flowers by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Stone house with oleander (also on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Just found very useful information about my standard oleander, bought it last spring didn’t know much about it and it got huge in summer
Oleander does grow prolifically when in the proper growing environment. And the blooms are very beautiful!