When to trim oleander?

Important Instructions for Pruning Oleanders

An easy and manageable task, pruning oleander means you will get a strong, healthy plant with lots of bloom. Read the Gardenerdy article to learn the steps on how to prune oleander properly.

Oleanders, or Nerium oleander are hardy evergreen trees which tend to survive in a variety of soils, even if it is of poor quality. If the pruning is done properly, it can be grown as a round shrub or grow as a tree. Basically, it is a showy plant with colorful flowers like orange, pink, white, yellow, and red. It can grow from 10 to 18 feet tall in USDA zones 9 through 11 and have the capability to bloom continuously in many zones. While taking proper care and pruning oleanders according to specific guidelines, you can definitely guarantee abundant blooms.

The perfect location for the plant is next to a walkway or the front yard, as it is considered to be an ornamental plant. Due to its rapid growth, scented flowers and tolerance to heat and drought, many people choose to plant it in their gardens. However, great care is required as oleanders are also one of the most poisonous house plants.

Pruning During Springtime

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In order to carry out the entire process, little care and maintenance is required to keep its natural shape. But if you wish to give the plant a multi-stemmed or single-trunk shape, you would have to invest more time towards pruning.

Despite what you choose, below we have instructions that will give you a complete look at how to go about the task.

  • Always water the tree during drought conditions. Although it is resistant to droughts, watering the plant 1 to 2 inches each week while the dry spells are on, will maintain the tree’s energy and production of flowers.
  • Remember to remove the suckers from the base of tree. Suckers tend to appear when new growth is found at the bottom of the trunk and also in the ground (around the base of the tree). As soon as you see it sprouting, make sure to pluck it off. Or else, it will steal essential moisture and nutrients to grow properly.
  • The ideal time for pruning is anywhere from September to early October. This encourages their growth in spring. While cutting the branches, do so just above the nodes that have like 3―4 leaves. The node of the branch is where the leaves will grow from the branch itself. Once you cut the area, new branches will grow from there and flowers will get a chance to develop at the end of these new branches.
  • You can even follow heavy pruning as the plant is used to it. This means, while pruning more branches will make it grow faster and in abundance. While trimming, cut along the top and inside the bush as well to keep the shape. If you wish to grow it into a tree, only cut the lower branches, near the trunk. Plus, remove new growth along the bottom of the trunk, as soon as it shows signs of development.

  • Organic fertilizer, once in early spring and again during early fall will assure the growth and flower production. Use balanced fertilizer which contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and make sure to follow the directions given on the package. Or, you could follow the instructions for organic fertilizer recipe, and use the homemade fertilizer instead.
  • Now, you also need to be careful with the caterpillars as the insects can wipe out the tree in less than 2 weeks. Snip the affected leaves and stems off that are present with caterpillars. You can also pick it with hands, place in plastic bag, seal it and keep in the freezer for about 24 hours. You can also use pesticides which contain bacillus thuringiensis. This will help treat caterpillars on tall trees.

As all parts of the plant are poisonous, make sure you wash your hands properly after pruning the oleanders. Discard whatever you cut in disposable bags, instead of burning it (the smoke is toxic). Help the trees grow in any desired shape you want, and keep the beauty of this ornamental plant alive.

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Oleanders can handle a heavy pruning and grow back from the base. Special to ViewCitrus leaves are sometimes eaten by a weevil, rabbits or grasshoppers. Special to ViewCertain fruit trees can be trellised to fit in a smaller space. Special to Viewhorticultural oil montereySAMSUNG

Q: You had an article a while back about trimming oleander down before spring. I have five in my backyard and have never done that. I am afraid to trim them down. Let me know because I am ready to fertilize.

A: If oleanders are getting old and unsightly, you have two choices if you want to improve their looks. The first is you can cut them down to the ground, leaving stubs about 3 to 4 inches above the soil, and they will sucker and regrow from these stubs or the base.

This type of pruning eliminates flowers early in the season, but it will start flowering probably around July when growth is older. You can cut them back now. They grow back very quickly when it’s warm and they have plenty of water.

The second option cuts back a few of the oldest and largest stems in the same way but leaves the smaller ones unpruned or cut back with some of the foliage remaining. Pruning the second way doesn’t leave an open space, and the remaining smaller stems will flower much earlier.

Pruning them with a hedge shears, which is traditional around here, in the spring and summer removes the future flowers, and you’re faced with a only green plant until it regrows and flowers.

Fertilize them and water them after they are pruned. This is important if you want them to grow back quickly.

Q: I have a peach tree that has been in the ground one year. I was supposed to spray it with dormant oil spray before leafing out. Is copper fungicide OK for spraying in the spring? I want to avoid bad pesticides because of birds, good bugs, etc.

A: There is confusion out there concerning dormant sprays and dormant oils. Dormant sprays can be a number of different types of sprays. The term dormant spray is a trade name and tells me nothing about its contents.

If I have the trade name and the manufacturer, then I can find the label, and I will know exactly what it contains. There is no hard-and-fast rule when talking about dormant sprays.

Dormant sprays are usually a traditional pesticide or combination of traditional pesticides sprayed during the winter or early spring. Sometimes they contain a fungicide that has copper in it, and sometimes they contain an insecticide as well. They are typically not organic.

Dormant oils, on the other hand, are very specific. They vary a little bit among manufacturers but not as much as dormant sprays. Dormant oils are used in organic production.

There is no reason for spraying a copper fungicide contained in the dormant spray if there are no plant problems to solve. However, dormant oils are very important to apply as a preventive measure for controlling some of the insects common on fruit trees.

Be sure you have a specific reason for applying dormant sprays before you do it. On a 1-year-old peach tree, I doubt there is a good reason unless you have diseases such as Coryneum blight, also called shothole fungus. If we have extended periods of wet weather or rain, consider applying it after the rain has finished. But otherwise I would not do it.

Q: I have a very small backyard and a 20 foot by 18 inch planter against the back wall of our property that is now empty. We were thinking of planting espalier fruit trees in this space. My wife wants a Myers lemon, and I like a peach or nectarine, pear, or even an apple.

A: You can fit about three fruit trees on a 20-foot trellis. The trees must be espaliered. They don’t have to be dwarf except for the apple.

The easiest trees to trellis are those that produce fruit on spurs — most apples, pear, apricot, plum and pluot. Citrus will work if the location is in a warm microclimate during the winter and protected from the wind.

Nectarine can be difficult because it frequently requires a lot of spraying to prevent Western flower thrips and the scarring this insect causes to nectarine fruit.

Peach is more difficult to prune in espalier because it does not produce fruit in spurs. Purchase these trees at any local nursery or garden center, but reference my list for the best varieties. You will find it on my blog, or email me, and I will send you a copy.

Buy a small tree if you are going to trellis. The wires for trellising should not be against the wall but away from it at least a few inches so you can prune behind it.

Trellis wires start at a height of about 18 inches from the ground and are horizontally spaced 18 inches apart. Everything growing toward the wall is pruned off.

In the first year, cut the top of the tree about 2 inches above the bottom wire. The growth closest to the cut is directed to the next wire above it and tied. Two side branches are tied tightly to the bottom wire.

Next year, repeat this process at the second wire, then the third wire and finally the last wire. Once the tree occupies the entire trellis, any long branches growing above the top wire are removed. Branches growing away from the wall are cut back to 3 or 4 inches.

Q: I have a 1-acre lot in east Las Vegas with large pine trees. One of the trees recently started dripping lots and lots of sap. Upon inspection, we found some horizontal lines of holes in the bark. I looked online, and it suggests a bird rather than a borer if the holes are in lines. Are there woodpeckers in Las Vegas?

A: Yes, we have the yellow-bellied sapsucker here, which is in the family of woodpeckers. They cause the kind of damage you are seeing and drill holes in horizontal lines, which can drip sap. It looks a little bit like someone took a drill and drilled holes in the tree close together and in a straight line.

There is not much you can do except exclude these birds from the trunk, which is difficult to do. The good news is that these trees can live many years with this type of damage from these bird if the tree is healthy and growing.

Big pine trees use a lot of water, so make sure yours is receiving enough water in the spring and summer months so that it grows enough to recover from this kind of damage.

If damaged trees do not grow enough to recover from this damage, then it will be a problem for the tree over time.

Q: I have a lemon tree with the leaves eaten up by something. I have been spraying with soap and water weekly, but I’ve not seen any improvement. Any ideas?

A: I looked at the picture you sent of the leaves. Damage caused by critters is frequently visually characteristic of the feeder. In your case, the leaves are chewed from the tips, and entire portions of the leaf are gone.

Commonly, we see root weevil damage on citrus, but this does not look like root weevil damage. Root weevil damage characteristically leaves a “notching” along the edge of the leaf, which I don’t see here.

Rabbits can damage citrus, but they usually eat the small twigs or branches and entire leaves. This damage usually extends only as high as they can reach. For cottontails, it is about a foot. For jackrabbits, it can be 2 1/2 feet or more.

Rabbits also damage the trunks if trees are fairly young. It does not look like rabbit damage, but I would not rule them out, particularly during the winter. Look at where the damage is located on the tree, and see if it extends only to a certain height, which might point to rabbits.

The damage to your tree resembles grasshopper damage, but I would not expect damage from grasshoppers this time of year because they are not active now. Perhaps this damage happened a while back, and you are just now seeing it?

Soap and water sprays will not leave behind a toxic residue that kills pests like grasshoppers. Soap and water sprays only kill insects that you spray directly.

Traditional pesticides like Sevin insecticide leaves behind a toxic residue. Try spraying with Sevin if the lemon tree is not in flower.

— Bob Morris is a horticulture expert living in Las Vegas and professor emeritus for the University of Nevada. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. Send questions to [email protected]

Tropicals: What’s coming back from the freeze?

We grow a lot of tropical plants in our Houston-area gardens. Our heat and humidity has lulled many of us into perhaps a false sense of security: and with one hard freeze, we lose a lot of landscaping.

Here’s a quick rundown on what’s probably alive, and what probably isn’t coming back.

Elephant ears

Q: My elephant ears were covered during the deep freeze, but that didn’t help. Is there anything I can do to save them. They are 25 years old. — J.T., Houston

A: I know they look awful. But I imagine they will send up new shoots from the big bulbs in spring. Remove the soggy foliage now. Mulch. These are tough plants.

Q: The elephant ears have been frozen, and I have trimmed them back. Should I dig them up and store them in a cool place? — D.P., Conroe

A: If you have the commonly seen, old-fashioned elephant ears, Colocasia esculenta, there’s no need to lift the bulbs.

They are so tough they’ve become invasive in many areas. If you’re concerned, mulch will help protect the bulbs. Some more exotic species known as elephant ears are less hardy. To find out more, check our plant database at chron.com/plants.

Palm trees

Q: What is the fate of our palm trees that are brown from the freezes we’ve had? – A.M.V., Kingwood

A: It’s difficult to say. A lot rides on how cold-hardy the variety is, the age and health of the palms, and how protected they are in your landscape. You may not know how extensive the damage is until warmer weather.

Palms can really suffer in a wet freeze. Horticultural Consultants, a wholesale/partial retail nursery at 5321-B Westpark, recommends spraying the foliage with an anti-transpirant and wrapping the trunk with Fiberglas insulation backed with foil to protect palms during freezing weather. The foil side should face out. An application of liquid potassium a week or so before a freeze will enable a palm to withstand cold three to six degrees lower than it normally would, a consultant says.

Do not prune your palms in winter.

Q: The fronds on my 4-foot date palm turned brown after the freeze. The trunk and roots seem fine, but will new fronds grow? — M.W., Houston

A: If the trunk and roots are OK, there should be recovery, but it might be slow. It depends on how warm/wet spring is. The folks at Enchanted Gardens and Enchanted Forest nurseries say it’s best to leave fronds with any green on the plant. This allows a bit of photosynthesis to help the tree. The nursery recommends removing other cold-damaged leaves, then spraying palms that don’t bear edible fruit with a copper-based fungicide. Follow package instructions.


Here are the Lone Star Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society’s suggestions to help your tropical hibiscus recover from winter damage:

Prune (after freeze danger has passed)

Cut the plant back to live, green wood. Don’t be surprised if, after several weeks, the hibiscus needs more pruning. Freeze damage doesn’t all show up at once.

If the plant has survived winter, new growth will emerge below the frozen parts when night temperatures are above 50 degrees.


This elixir will jump-start your hibiscus in spring: Dissolve 1 tablespoon each of a balanced water-soluble fertilizer (Peter’s 20-20-20), Epsom salts and KNO3 (potassium nitrate) in 1 gallon water. Do not use more than 1 tablespoon of KNO3 or you could burn your plants. Apply again in fall.

For good growth through the season, apply a granular or water-soluble hibiscus food every two weeks in the spring, summer and fall. For extra benefits, foliar feed with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Space City (18-10-28) or Peter’s.

Apply Epsom salts at a rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon of pot size, or throw a healthy handful around grounded plants once a month.

Epsom salts can be added to the water-soluble fertilizer and used as a soil drench or a foliar spray.

Be patient

Tropical hibiscus blooms on new growth, so a freeze-damaged plant will need 90 to 120 days to put on enough new wood to begin blooming again.


Q: My oleanders were badly damaged by the latest freezing temperatures, and I would like to prune them to get rid of the ugly brown leaves. How do I know where to cut? Some branches have some green on the top as if new growth had occurred, others have a mix of mostly brown and some green leaves. How low do I cut them? – YBF, The Woodlands

A: Prune the oleanders back as far as you find freeze damage along the stems/branches. Healthy stems will be firm and green. This may mean you cut damaged branches to the ground. The shrubs will regrow from the roots, but for a while, of course, you will have a bare spot in the landscape if all branches are dead/damaged.

Otherwise, prune oleanders after blooming. Some varieties flower only in spring, but others are free-bloomers and flower through the summer. All types should be pruned by the end of August or early September to give any new growth sufficient time to harden off before winter.

Oleanders have a globular shape – a billowy, full form to ground level. Little pruning is required to maintain this natural shape. Broken, weak, crossing or dead branches should be removed. Unwanted stems can be removed at ground level or where they join older stems.

When there is no freeze damage, a rule of thumb is not to prune more than a third of the existing foliage and to prune stems carefully to distribute removal evenly for a balanced look.


Q: The tops of my gingers have frozen and are brown. Should I cut and remove them now or wait until the threat of freeze is gone? – T. B., Friendswood

A: You can cut them now or any time before new growth starts.

Philodendron, cyperus

Q. The philodendron and cyperus were damaged. Do I cut these plants to ground level? – YBF, The Woodlands

A. Remove any soggy leaves. Leave the trunk unless soggy. If you’ve cut into live tissue in the trunk, cover during the next freeze.


Q: I didn’t cover my bougainvilleas during the freeze. Should I prune them back now or wait until the threat of freezing temperatures is past? – L.W., Tomball

A: I like to wait to prune, since it usually means I start the growing season with a larger plant. Freeze-damaged wood provides some protection for live wood farther down the stems. If you don’t care about this, you can prune now; but mulch well to protect the roots.


Q: I left several plumerias in the garden with freeze-damaged, black tips. Should I trim just the tips or cut off the entire branch? Will the branches or tips grow if I plant them? – H.M.B., Rosharon

A: You can remove an entire branch if you like, but it’s only necessary to remove the freeze-damaged tips. Cut back to firm, white wood. You can root cuttings with healthy wood.


Q: I covered two Clerodendrum quadriloculare during the cold weather, but both look bad. What are the chances they’ll recover from this damage? — D.N., Houston

A: This species is listed as cold-hardy to zone 8; we’re in zone 9 with minimum temperatures in the 20-to-30-degree range. Covering helped, possibly keeping temperatures 2 to 3 degrees warmer, and if the plants were mulched, chances are they’ll return from the roots when warm weather returns. If you find firm, green wood closer to the base of the plant, you’ll know sooner rather than later you’re in luck.


Q: Will freeze-damaged ixora recover? — K.H., Houston

A: Ixora’s hardiness rating is zone 9b with minimum temperatures in the 25-to-30-degree range, so the plants could possibly make it. If you find firm areas, they could pull through. If plants are all mush, you’ll need to see if anything comes back from the roots in spring. Meanwhile, keep living plants mulched and water before the next freeze, if it hasn’t rained.

Source: Houston Chronicle archives, Garden Editor Kathy Huber.

Freeze damage and stress in landscape plants | Bradenton Herald

@BR Ednote:Editor’s note: The following question and answer report was developed by Kyle VandenBrink of OLM, Inc., the company that monitor’s Lakewood Ranch’s landscaping. VandenBrink referenced University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science data.

Q: Many of my plants are brown. How do I know when they are dead and should be removed?

A: Brown leaves are just a hint of the damage that may have resulted from the cold. Wait a few weeks or more before making any decisions. As the weather warms up, plant portions often continue to decline. You may notice stems cracking and bark peeling away as further indication of the cold damage.

In about a month, the extent of the cold damage can be detected. Use a knife to scrape along the stems until you find green tissue. This is normally the point where the plant can begin new growth. For some, the green stems may be found only at the ground. Given time, even these plants can recover rapidly because of the well-established root systems.

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Q: Our sprinkler system went on during the freezing temperatures. Most of the plants were coated with ice, and are turning brown. Did the water harm the plants?

A: Water can be used for cold protection only if it is applied in a sufficient quantity and uniformly during the entire time of the freeze. When a sprinkler system comes on during the freeze and turns off before the freeze is over, damage can often be severe.

The wet plants are super-cooled and temperatures drop well below the air temperature, causing stems and leaves – that would normally not be affected – to freeze. Expect to do lots of pruning to remove damaged portions. Some plants that would have survived may have been lost.

Q: I lost most of my flowers. When can I begin replanting?

A: If you pick the hardy types, you can begin replanting immediately. Pansies and Johnny-jump-ups were not affected by the cold and are almost freeze-proof. Other good cold-weather survivors worth the risk include delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, ornamental cabbage and kale, petunias, shasta daisies and snapdragons.

Q: Due to the recent freeze damage, our crotons had to be cut back to the ground. Will the plants still produce new growth, or should they be dug out and new ones planted?

A: Scratch the stems just below the ground. If they are green, you can expect some growth from the buds insulated from the cold damage by the soil. This growth could be slow in developing, as the buds are often immature. A wait of six to eight weeks after warm weather returns is common.

Q: Frost has damaged the ends of our hibiscus branches in one area of the landscape. When can we prune the plants? Why weren’t plants in other areas affected?

A: Some areas of the landscape are always colder than others. Your damaged plants may be more exposed to the wind, or they may be growing in an open area where frosts form first. Perhaps the unaffected plants are near a building or under trees where they are protected from the cold.

Because more cold weather is predicted, don’t rush to cut back the damaged hibiscus portions. The brown leaves may insulate the plant from future frosts and freezes. A good rule to follow is when you can’t stand the brown foliage any longer, it’s time to prune.

Q: When can I start pruning freeze-damaged trees and shrubs?

A: Don’t prune anything immediately. Wait to prune cold-damaged oleanders and other tropical shrubs, such as hibiscus and crotons, after they begin to sprout new growth with the onset of warm weather, maybe by late February.

The damaged leaves help to insulate damaged plants from frost and further injury. Once plants begin to sprout, be sure to prune below them so you cut in to green healthy wood. The cold acts as natural pruning to overgrown shrubs. Several light trimmings through the spring and summer growing season will promote dense growth. New sprouts will form just behind the pruning cut, so if you want the shrub to branch down low, you need to cut some of the stems down low. Azaleas and camellias should not be pruned until after they bloom. Several light trims to shape wild branches should be all that is needed.

Crape myrtles are deciduous trees, meaning that they lose their leaves during winter. If you trim them too early, they sprout out tender shoots that are likely to be killed by frost or freezing temperatures. Wait until the end of February before they begin to leaf out naturally, but only trim branches smaller than your finger. It is not advisable to follow the common but incorrect practice of hacking into 2” to 6” limbs. It leaves large wounds, which are slow to heal and the resulting branches are weakly attached and likely to break off in the wind.

Palms damaged by cold should not be pruned until the new fronds fully emerge. Pruning off brown or desiccated fronds remove a source of bud protection, nutrient source and limit the plant’s exposure to disease exposure by cutting into petiole (the base of the fronds) closest to the bud (a palms growth point).

Q: Why were these plants used in the first place if they would freeze?

A: It is my opinion the plants are within the ‘coldest’ range for their tolerance. Recently, the USDA updated Plant Zones indicating the semi-tropical line (Zone 9-10) has migrated from Sarasota to Tampa Bay. This indicator of annual cold temperature cannot take into account local micro-climates. The plants are successfully used throughout Tampa Bay.

Many of the more colorful landscapes using tropical and semi-tropical plants like ixora, scheffelara arbicola, trinette, Hawaiian Ti plant and Duranta “gold mound”, have cold intolerance at 35 F or colder.

Again, people want “Florida” to be the tropics where much of the state is in a temperate climate range. With the reward of high color comes the risk of weather exposure. As an aside, we have used hibiscus and bougainvillea for years and it, too, was bitten. I do not believe damage is permanent or warrants replacement as many well established plants can recover in a season. If the plant is in a high visibility location and detracts from the quality of landscape, replacement maybe considered.


Florida is afforded a temperate climate and with so much great weather we sometimes forget the number of freezes recorded at Tampa International Airport. The statistics show an average of 3.3 days at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below per year. With that, it would seem hardly worthy of discussing frost and freeze protection to these rare occurrences. But still we want to have flowering semi and sub-tropical plants to brighten landscapes, patios and lanais. Periodic cold events and the value of personal or community landscapes require attention and action to preserve and protect the sensitive landscape plants.

Oleanders, how to propagate and important information about the dangers of pruning them

Gardening in Spain, Oleanders are extremely easy to propagate and very useful in a dry garden

Oleanders are one of the most popular choices for hedging or for filling up large, empty spaces, and can also be extremely useful as topiary specimen trees in areas where there is plenty of space.

They are very hardy, evergreen, and grow wild in many waterways throughout the region, bearing attractive white, pink, or peach flowers in late spring.

As a plant they are incredibly drought tolerant, which makes them a perfect choice for dry areas which do not receive any irrigation, but bear in mind that they are extremely vigorous, and need annual pruning to maintain any semblance of shape, so can become very large if left untamed.

One point thats really important to stress to novice Spanish gardeners is the high toxicity of this plant. Ex-pats have been hospitalised after pruning an oleander hedge without wearing gloves and covering skin, the sticky white sap causing extreme irritation and allergies in some people. Gloves and long-sleeved shirts should always be worn when handling or cutting oleanders.

Animals can also react badly to the toxicity, so keep cats and dogs well away from newly cut branches.

Its also worth noting that these branches should not be burnt or composted either: cut them up and put them in a bin, not a green waste recycling unit, or re-incorporate back into the wild.

Were lucky enough to live in the wild, so ours are just pushed into a bank of vegetation, and we dont worry about wild animals eating them, because they know not to- you can watch the goats and sheep grazing a bank, they will eat everything except the oleanders.

They are extremely easy to propagate, root quickly and cuttings can be rooted in a number of ways.

One of the simplest is to simply place cuttings in bottles of water, or they can also be rooted into potting compost.

We tend to take our oleander cuttings straight from the prunings, and usually prune back hard after flowering before the big heat kicks in.

Selecting Oleander cuttings

Choose a piece of about 30cm long.

Cuttings can be either whats called semi-ripe , softwood or greenwood. What this actually means is that when branches grow, the older wood hardens off and becomes woody, whereas the younger shoots become increasingly soft as they reach the tip of the branch.

All the efforts of the plant are focused in the newer shoots, so it is always better to take cuttings from these areas, as the old woody growth doesnt root very well.

The greenwood is the soft growth at the end of the branch, the softwood is slightly further down the stem and is slightly older growth which hasnt yet gone hard, and the semi-ripe wood is visibly turning woodier and is usually a darker colour.

Oleanders will root from any of these types of material, but we would recommend not taking anything that wont stand upright in a bottle of water, and if youre putting the cuttings into compost, take shorter cuttings from softwood.

Cut to the correct length just below a leaf node ( the point at where the leaves form along the stem, and remove any flower heads.

Strip off all leaves other than a few around the top of the cutting where growth will take place.

For water rooting, simply fill up a bottle and stand the cutting in the water, making sure there are no leaves touching the water or they will rot, and for potted cuttings, the bottom of the cutting can be dusted with hormone rooting powder, or not. Oleanders strike so readily that its really not necessary to use hormone rooting powder, then pot into standard compost.

If the top wilts, pinch it out.

Feel the stem and if the main stem feels as though its quite firm, its taking up water and is likely to pull through, but if the stem feels limp, throw it away and start again. Pinching out the top will still enable the cutting to take up water, but takes the pressure off the cutting to struggle maintaining top growth. We often leave the leading shoot in to start with, but if it wilts, pinch it out later.

Leave in a light, but cool area and dont allow the cutting into the direct sunlight until it has rooted.

Its easy to see when a cutting in a bottle has rooted , and for potted cuttings the sign is when the cutting starts to put out new leaf shoots.

We dont usually cover oleander cuttings with a bag as they tend to strike well without them.

It normally takes around a month to root, and within a short time the plant will need potting on into a bigger pot to grow on.

Our advice would be to take cuttings in May/June, with a view to planting them out in mid-autumn once the rains have started and the plants are strong enough to cope on their own, although oleander cuttings can be taken at virtually any time.

For a bushy plant, pinch out new growth to encourage structural branches to form and give a better shape.

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.

Planting oleander

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 particularly well indicated 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 strongly recommended to continue producing abundant flowers.

Propagating oleander

Making cuttings is the easiest and fastest technique to propagate oleander.

Traditionally, oleander cuttings are prepared in August but it is perfectly possible to start a bit earlier, in June or July.

  • Find our advice on correctly preparing oleander cuttings

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, so that the entire bush is pruned 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.

Watering oleander

  • Oleander must be planted in a 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, abundant watering is recommended during heat waves, especially for potted oleander.

Easy to care for and to grow, oleander is without doubt one of the most beautiful summer-flowering shrubs.

Greatly increase flower-bearing thanks to fertilizer suited to tomatoes and vegetables.

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 may be dangerous for health.

Read also:

  • 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

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