It is common in Mediterranean gardens to employ oleanders as a screen plant, on hillsides and next to roadways. Open cluster flowers that bloom in the summer can be single or double and are a variety of shades of white, pink, red and peach. Long, thin, and silvery-green evergreen leaves cover the stems of these plants.
Even a small bit of oleander can be lethal, thus it’s best not to grow oleanders in areas where children and pets are present. Skin irritations are possible if exposed to the foliage. After handling or pruning, wash your hands thoroughly and, if possible, wear gloves.
How to grow oleander
Oleander, or Nerium oleander, is a delicate plant that can only be grown outside in warm climates where temperatures never fall below freezing. While oleanders can thrive in a conservatory, porch or greenhouse, they aren’t appropriate for centrally heated rooms. Summer is the best time to grow oleanders outside.
In the spring or summer, buy and plant oleanders. It’s best to keep the oleander indoors in a well-lit area, away from central heating and in a well-ventilated environment, or to put it outside in moderate areas only, as it can’t withstand frost. Feed and water your plants frequently throughout the summer. In the spring, repot or top-dress your plants.
Where to grow oleander
To produce blossoms, oleanders need a lot of light. The best location for your oleander is a brightly lit conservatory, porch, or cool room, or a protected area outside that receives all or most of the day’s sun.
Oleanders are tolerant of a wide range of conditions, but prefer full sun. It is possible for oleanders to flower in partially shaded areas, but not as many. Heavy clay, well-drained sand, marshy places, and areas with high levels of sodium, chloride, and related salts are all acceptable soil types. Soil that is between 6.5 and 7.5 pH will yield the greatest results. When selecting a location for a mature oleander plant, keep in mind that it can reach heights of up to 20 feet. Because of the plant’s severe toxicity, keep oleanders out of reach of pets and children.
How to plant oleander
Make sure your oleander has sufficient drainage by planting it in a large pot filled with a soil-based potting compost (such as John Innes No. 3). The pot should be placed on a saucer of pebbles to protect the pot’s surface, and it should be lifted off the ground if it is placed on paved surfaces.
In unimproved soil, dig a hole slightly higher than soil grade for each shrub that is as deep as the container or root ball and two to three times its diameter. Plants should be spaced 6-12 feet apart. If the plant’s roots are encased in burlap or balled up, be careful not to touch them. Creating a small berm or slope around the hole will serve as a reservoir for watering the new plants when necessary. Until the roots have grown deep enough into the earth to support the plant, plants can be staked to keep their root mass in place.
How to care for oleander
A consistent watering schedule from spring to fall is essential for oleanders to keep the compost evenly moist, and it’s especially critical in spring when the buds are growing. Reduce watering throughout the winter months as plant development slows. Every two weeks or so from late spring to early autumn, apply a liquid fertilizer.
Pruning oleander bushes isn’t a necessity, but it’s often necessary if you’re relocating them from the garden to a greenhouse for the winter. Late winter or early spring pruning is ideal, but autumn pruning can be done if necessary. Trim out any overcrowded shoots after eliminating any damaged or dead growth. Remove a few centimeters of unflowered shoot tips and half-cut flowering twigs to encourage bushy growth.
Every spring, repot oleanders in pots by transplanting them to a larger container. To top-dress plants that are already in large pots, gently remove the top 3-5 cm of compost and replace it with fresh soil-based potting compost, if possible.
Because of its ease of maintenance, oleander is a favorite of highway maintenance crews. Highway beautification projects commonly feature dense plantings of oleander shrubs, which create an eye-catching display of long-lasting flowers with no effort. In the garden, oleanders need need minimal attention. Despite the fact that the shrubs are drought-resistant, they look their best when irrigated during dry spells. Take care not to overwater the plants. Overwatering is evident by the plant’s yellowing leaves. During its first spring, if the soil is poor, give the plant a light feeding with a balanced fertilizer. Oleander bushes don’t need to be fertilized on a regular basis once they’ve been established. Reduces legginess by pinching the tips of immature stems, which in turn promotes the shrub to branch out. Oleanders can be pruned as well. To eliminate sick or broken limbs, you can prune any time, but it’s best to prune in the fall in order to form the shrub.
Oleanders don’t normally need fertilizer when they’re first planted, but it can help them grow faster and flower more. Use no more than one pound of nitrogen-based, low-phosphorus fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of soil. Addition of one-third organic material like peat moss can improve water absorption in sandy soils. Oleander can be grown in a pot with a mixture of eight to nine parts by volume of a soilless potting mix to one part sand and one part perlite.
Plant roots should be watered thoroughly immediately after planting, and foliage should be avoided at all costs to avoid leaf scorch damage. The plants shouldn’t need any additional water after that, unless the summer rainfall rate is less than an inch per week. Supplemental watering of 1 to 2 inches per week can be used in this instance. Phythium, phytopthora, fusarium, and rhizoctonia are just a few of the root diseases that can be made worse by overwatering during the cooler months.
How to propagate oleander
Mid- to late-summer is the ideal time to take cuttings. Using a sharp knife, cut the non-flowering shoots about 10 cm long, just below a leaf joint. In equal parts perlite or sharp sand and seed & cuttings compost, dip the base in hormone rooting powder. The roots of cuttings can then be transplanted into a new pot when they are well formed.
Seeds can also be used to grow oleanders. Harvest the ripe seed in the autumn and immediately sow it in moist compost, as described previously.
Growing oleander: problem solving
Under cover oleander plants are more vulnerable to pests than those that are exposed. Be on the lookout for pests like scale insects, spider mites, and mealybugs, and use biological management to get rid of them.
If you don’t have enough excellent light, plants may be reluctant to flower. If you want your plant to flower, try moving it to a sunny location.
The oleander dried out as the flowers were budding, which is why the buds fell off before opening. When the oleander is in full bloom, make sure it doesn’t run out of water.
Plants that have yellowed leaves are receiving too much water.
Growing oleander: buying advice
- Humans and animals alike are poisoned by oleanders. Before you buy one, consider your options.
- Always select a plant that appears to be healthy and free of pests or harm.
- Garden centres and nurseries sell oleanders, although specialty nurseries have a wider selection.