- Oleander Plant Pest And Diseases
- Oleander Bush or Standards
- When To Prune Oleanders & How?
- Oleander Tree Care Up North
- Oleander Tree
- Dwarf Oleander
- Oleander – the flower with power!
Scientifically classified as Nerium, this evergreen shrub is most commonly known as Oleander, deriving its name from its strong resemblance to the unrelated Olea plant. Despite its alluring appearance of heavily scented, colorful flowers, Oleander is one of the most poisonous of garden plants known to humans and animals. The entire plant, including the sap, is toxic, and if ingested, can cause an adverse and even lethal reaction. Surprisingly this is still one of our most common wholesale pants.
A large and versatile plant with deep green leaves, Oleander is usually cultivated as shrub borders or hedges in warm and dry subtropical regions, but can also be cultivated in greenhouses or conservatories in colder climates. Due to its highly poisonous effects, it is strongly urged to not be grown in areas where children and animal could access the plant. Some prominent physical characteristics of the Oleander include; long, narrow leaves in groups of three, five petal tubular-shaped flowers and tiny capsule sized reddish-brown seeded fruit. This evergreen can grow anywhere from six to twelve feet tall and wide, and some varieties can be trained to grow into small trees reaching heights up to twenty feet. Over 400 variants of this showy flower have been cultivated, running the gamete of colors from creamy whites, pinks, lilacs, purples, to deep yellows and oranges.
A native to northern Africa, the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, Oleander is most common in tropical and subtropical areas, preferring dry, warm climates. It can survive light frosts and withstand drought and salt spray and reacts best to full sun or partial shade. Care for the oleander is minimal and includes hard pruning to maintain its shape, moderate watering and light fertilization, if needed.
Spend some time in Zones 9 or 10 and you’re bound to see spectacular hedges of oleander performing in gardens, parks, and other public spaces. Oleander is a beautiful and easy-to-grow flowering shrub (or small tree, depending how it’s pruned) that typically produces a profuse show of red, pink, cream, or white flowers. There are a number of varieties. Some have double, rose-like flowers and others are graced with a light, sweet fragrance.
This flowering shrub is an excellent hedge plant. If left unpruned, it can reach 15 feet or more, but can be kept shorter. Its quick growth and dense foliage make oleander a favorite plant for creating privacy. If you remove all but one stem, you can train oleander to grow as a beautiful tree.
In Northern areas, oleander is sometimes grown as a tropical plant in container gardens because of its beautiful display of flowers. Larger specimens are lovely as showpiece plants on their own, but smaller plants pair well to make beautiful container garden combinations.
Our flowering shrub experts are happy to help. Just send us an email.
The Oleander plant (Nerium oleander) is an ornamental shrub with attractive characteristics from flower to stems. The plant is an erect evergreen shrub, also known as adelfa plants, with lovely flower clusters of pink flowers. Each flower has 5 spreading petals.
The flower clusters are supported by the plant’s slender stems. Lance-shaped with leathery texture and pointed tips refer to the plant’s leaves.
If the oleander flowers come in clusters, the leaves come in groups of 2 or 3 along the branch.
Oleanders are so well known to both northern and southern gardeners, they need little introduction or description.
They are grown everywhere in the South, and at one time ranked with beautiful hydrangeas as northern house plants.
For some obscure reasons, oleanders (Nerium) faded from popularity some years ago, but they are now making quite a comeback.
Give these plants well-drained soil, full light, and plenty of fresh air.
Oleanders are salt and drought tolerant, thus making it an excellent flowering shrub for coastal areas as well as for xeriscaping.
They also are perfect as a container grown plants. In outdoor spots and landscapes, Nerium flowers make a fabulous accent plant, oleander hedge, and great border plant.
After flowering, cut the plants back and rest them for a few weeks. If cuttings are wanted, take them of mature wood when you cut the plant back sharply; pruning to shape the plant may be done at any time.
Clean up and dispose of all debris after you finish pruning.
Oleander Plant Pest And Diseases
Oleander poisoning occurs when man and animals eat the stems, leaves and flowers of the plant. But on the other side, this poisonous plant are beloved by scale insects and mealy bugs, they have long been popular subjects.
Oleanders can become infested with infested with mealybugs, glassy-winged sharpshooter, soft scale, oleander aphids and white or oleander scale.
To control all these, apply regular applications of sprays containing neem oil insecticide for plants or insecticidal soap spray solution.
The Oleander caterpillar, a pest commonly found in oleander plants, loves to gregariously eat the leaves.
These caterpillars possess immunity against the tree’s poison. It grows to a polka-dot wasp moth which lays eggs on the underside faces of the leaves.
If not controlled, these greedy pests may cause unsightly defoliation. This may not kill the plant but it makes it vulnerable to other pests such as scale insects.
Oleander leaf scorch is a lethal disease that kills oleander shrubs. This condition scorches the leaves of oleander plants and spread quickly.
Experts point out two culprits for oleander scorch: the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa and the pest that spreads them, the glassy-winged sharpshooter.
Oleander Bush or Standards
Oleanders may be grown in bush shape or trained as standards (like a tree rose).
In the latter, plants are topped at whatever height is desired, and good crowns will develop the same season.
However, owing to the weight of the large flower heads, which are borne in terminal clusters, it is not advisable to allow the plant to flower the following year, as the branches will not be strong enough to support the blooms.
I have very little room for duplication of indoor plant material, but I am so enamored of oleanders, I have two plants. The larger one is a bush, and has double pink flowers.
From this I have taken innumerable cuttings, which root in plain water.
The other plant I am training as a standard tree form, and already I can see the space-saving advantage of this form.
With this variety of flowers, it will have white blossoms.
Hence why it’s often searched for as “white oleander trees”.
Oleanders have single or double flowers, and in addition to the white, range through shades of pink and rose to an almost-purple color.
The yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana), another poisonous plant, serves as an ornamental plant. Its fragrant flowers bloom all throughout summer and fall.
Don’t be afraid to try trees; when confined to a pot, they will remain a reasonable size for a long, long time.
When To Prune Oleanders & How?
Question: My potted oleander last year grew to four feet in height and developed three new branches – one on the old stem and two from the root. The old branch bloomed all summer.
I want to cut this plant back to a smaller size – would you tell me when and in what way it should be pruned?
Answer: The best time in pruning oleander plants is right after they have finished blooming… and pruned rather severely. Cut back all the tall stems until about half the total foliage has been removed.
For those varieties which bloom well into the fall, they should be trimmed by mid-September.
This will make the plant grow short and bushy rather than tall and spindly. After pruning give the plant good light and when new growth starts, increase both the temperature and water.
Why Does My Oleander Have Lots of Buds But No Blooms?
Question: I have several two-year-old oleanders. In the spring they are placed on the south side of the house where they get plenty of sunshine and left there during the summer.
The plants are doing well and have had many buds but these never open. What is causing this? Eleana, North Dakota
Answer: To bloom properly, oleander wood should be firm and well-ripened. The latter part of the summer should find the growth fairly well made and from that time on the plants should be kept on the dry side, with no fertilizer added, with all the light and air possible.
The shoots made this season should bloom the next if they are wcll-hardened. I suspect the dropping of buds is caused by drying at the roots, or poor ventilation in the spring before they go outdoors.
Oleander Tree Care Up North
During winter the oleander should be grown quite dry so that it remains in a resting stage. About the first of February place the plant in a warm sunny window and increase the amount of water. Although these plants are drought-tolerant, they appear at their best with proper watering.
About the first of March and again each month until September give the shrub a good liquid feeding. Use something like any liquid water soluble 20-20-20 plant food.
Dissolve the plant food in water at the rate of one heaping tablespoonful to a gallon of water.
When the blooming period is about over, usually by June, prune the plant back rather severely, but keep it growing vigorously until September.
From September on water should be withdrawn sufficiently to permit the plant to remain virtually at a standstill until the following February.
Thinkstock Most dwarf oleander bloom fine in containers.
Q: I have two pink dwarf oleanders planted in 18-inch clay pots that have very healthy-looking foliage but very few blossoms. One of my gardener friends says oleanders don’t like pots. Another says I’m watering too much. Do you have any suggestions that might get some me some blossoms?
A: We have dwarf oleanders at the Cooperative Extension Research Center in containers and they bloom just fine. Dwarf oleanders such as yours are a better selection for containers and they are most commonly either pink or salmon-colored.
You could try a couple of things. If the container is small, you might have to water more often to compensate for the small soil volume. Oleander produces flowers on new growth. Prune in the winter and not during the summer if you want flowers.
Plants in containers need to be repotted every two or three years. Small containers, every year. Large containers might make it up to five years.
Oleanders that aren’t getting enough water will look normal but have an open canopy and won’t bloom well. Oleanders are high water users and love fertilizer. They do not like to be watered daily and do their best if the soil does not dry excessively between waterings.
Use a complete fertilizer such as Peters or Miracle-Gro for flowering plants and water it into the soil about once every six to eight weeks.
Cover the soil in the container with mulch to help keep the soil moist. About 2 inches would be enough.
Q: I have been working compost into my soil and mulching the soil surface trying to improve it. Much of my compost is kind of raw and mulchlike, but I use it quickly so I have space to compost leaves and grass. Does incompletely composted material draw fertilizer components away from plants?
A: The finer the compost, the faster it will decompose in the garden. I don’t like compost that looks “mulchy” because it decomposes slowly and it can interfere with soil preparation and planting.
Compost for vegetable gardens should be screened, fine, dark brown or black, smell good and earthy. “Mulchy” composts can be used to prepare soil for planting trees and shrubs, but not for vegetables.
If compost is not completely broken down, it can draw nitrogen out of the soil. But this will depend on the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, or the nitrogen content, of the compost.
I do not worry too much about using compost that is not totally decomposed growing vegetables but I lightly fertilize vegetables once a month. These additional nitrogen applications keep this kind of problem at bay.
Q: We have a small fig tree, about 2 years old. It has figs but we do not know how to determine when they are ripe for picking.
A: Figs are ready when the neck on the fig, the narrow part of the fruit attached to the stem, starts to bend and the fruit is no longer held upright. Figs do not ripen any more once they are picked. You get exactly what you pick, so they must be picked fully ripe.
Once bent, you must pick right away. Once they are ready, you will pick nearly daily. Birds are a big problem with tree-ripened figs.
Q: What is the best attack for those pesky, scary-looking creatures on pomegranate? We had them last year. Haven’t seen them yet this season. Is there something to keep them away?
A: Prevention should start during the winter months when they can be seen in the landscape as overwintering adults ready to lay eggs in the spring.
I have seen adults on bottlebrush and other trees and shrubs in home landscapes in Southern Nevada. I am sure they overwinter on a number of evergreen plants during the winter. Since the adults can fly, they move from plant to plant in search of food.
This means they come into your yard from neighbors during the growing season. Even if you control them once during the season, you always run the chance of having them again as long as there is food in your yard.
What do we know about leaf-footed plant bugs? They like to feed on pomegranates, almonds, pistachios, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, corn, peaches, nectarines and I am sure some others.
They are closely related to stinkbugs and squash bugs, feed and reproduce like them and confused with them because they look similar from a distance.
They overwinter from year to year in the landscapes. It takes about 50 or 60 days to produce adults from eggs laid in the spring as new growth is produced.
They feed with a long hypodermic- needlelike mouth that is inserted into soft plant tissue like leaves and fruit. Their feeding on developing fruit can cause threads of sap to ooze from the fruit’s skin.
The bugs’ feeding causes misshapen fruit or fruits or nuts to drop off of the tree. Their feeding can also cause rot diseases to enter the fruit. The bugs are difficult to control because they hide unless they are swarming and reproducing near the fruit.
Hard or conventional pesticides such as Sevin or synthetic pyrethrins are the most effective for rapid kill. These can be found as ingredients in some common vegetable or fruit sprays in nurseries or garden centers.
These same ingredients are used commercially where leaf-footed plant bugs are a problem. These types of chemicals leave behind a residue that offers some later protection after they are applied.
The chemicals, though, present some safety concerns for homeowners. They must be used with caution in home landscapes, so make sure you read the label thoroughly if you choose to go this route.
Organic control is harder because these chemicals are short-lived and don’t leave behind much residue for later protection.
Organic methods will require you to inspect the tree and fruit more often and spray more frequently.
Soap sprays like Safers insecticidal soap will give good control if the spray lands on the insects. Oils like neem have been reported to give good control used in this way. Other oils include horticultural oils and canola oil.
Another possibility are pyrethrin sprays, which may give you good knockdown when sprayed on the insects directly. Organic sprays like Bt or Spinosad will not work on this insect.
A common misunderstanding is to think that organic sprays will not hurt anything except the enemy insect. This is not true. Organic sprays will kill many different insects, good and bad. So directing the sprays at the enemy insects is important.
It is also important to spray very early in the morning or near sundown. Spray when there is no wind and cover both the upper and lower sides of the leaves.
Do not use one spray repeatedly. Use several sprays in rotation with one another so you don’t end up with an uncontrolled population explosion of insects or boost insect immunity to a single spray.
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]
Planting oleander is an easy way to brighten up a Florida garden. Oleander produce profuse groups of striking blossoms with minimum care, and they bloom most of the year. It never gets too hot or too cold for oleander in Florida. Oleander care couldn’t be easier, but beware of the oleander caterpillar.
Oleander colors generally run from bright white to deep red. Pink is the most popular. Usually the closer to white the more prolific the bloom. Pink bloom nearly as heavily as white. There’s a steep drop off with red. Other colors are available, such as peach, yellow and purple. Varieties with a thicker blossom are also around.
Oleander come in dwarf varieties too, some as small as four feet tall. These work will in pots and small yards.
Sun, sun, sun, the more sun the more blossoms. Other than that they’re not picky. A neutral PH is good, but they handle a wide range. Well drained soil is best, but not required. Dig a hole, toss one in, add fertilizer, water it, and it’ll grow.
Oleander need little care in Florida. They’re drought resistant, salt resistant, wind resistant, and deer resistant. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer while growing. Once they’re mature, a light fertilizing is all they need, if that. They handle wet soil well, but if the leaves start to yellow, it’s a sign they’re getting too much water.Oleander caterpillar
Oleander are poisonous, but their lethality is inflated. They taste so bad deer won’t eat them. A person or pet would have to eat a lot before it would kill them. If you don’t eat oleander, cook with it, or drink a tea made of it (Yes, someone did, and they did die.), it’s not going to be fatal.
Contact, especially with the white sap sometimes irritates the skin. Wear gloves when handling them, especially while trimming. Some people are allergic. They should avoid the plant.
The most destructive pest is the oleander caterpillar. They’re more common in South Florida. At first they only eat the underside of the leaf between the veins. As they grow they develop more resistance to the oleander’s toxins, which are concentrated in the veins and stem. When oleander caterpillars are close to pupating, they will eat the whole leaf, and they eat fast.
The adult form of the oleander caterpillar is the polka-dot wasp moth. They have white dots on their wings and body. The back of their abdomen is red. Their shape is similar to a wasp’s. This may offer them protection from predators. The moth only lives for five days, but lays a lot of eggs in that time and they only lay them on oleander. If you spot any flying around your plants, Inspect them for caterpillars and damaged leaves.
If there’s only one small plant, removing the oleander caterpillars by hand works. If there’s more, products with Bacillus thuringiensis are great. They’re safe to use and only kill caterpillars. They don’t kill the wasps and other insects that prey on the them . Thuricide is one such product and Home Depot sells it.Yellow aphids on an oleander
Scales and aphids can also cause problems. Insecticidal soaps or soapy water will safely kill both pests. If using home made soapy water, test it on a small area first.
Oleander are grown in different shapes.
The oleander bush is the most common form and the way they grow naturally. A line of oleander makes an excellent wind resistant hedge, plant six to twelve feet apart. They can grow as high as 20 feet, but trimming will maintain them at eight to ten.
Oleander tree care takes work, but the result is often spectacular. Multi-trunk are easier than a single trunk, but not as impressive. Simply cut of the lower branches and remove any suckers to produce a tree with multiple trunks.Suckers growing on an oleander tree.
Growing a single trunk oleander tree is harder. Start by finding an oleander bush with a tall straight shoot. Cut off all the others at ground level. As it grows, clip off all side branches and suckers. These suckers will show up for years. If caught early they’re easy to knock off, but the bigger they get the more trouble it is. Because oleander is a bush and a tree shape is unnatural, it’s easily blown over. If in a windy spot, it’ll have to be staked up, probably for years. Once the plant has reached the desired height, trimming will allow the roots and trunk to grow large enough that staking won’t be needed. To grow as a braid, find an oleander bush with three nice straight shoots. Clip of the others at ground level, braid, then grow as you would an oleander tree.
The dwarf varieties work well in pots. The others can also be used, but they’ll tend to outgrow the container and become root bound. Trim non dwarf varieties heavily to keep small.
Various colors, various shapes, various sizes, and will grow in a variety of soils. Only bougainvillea can compare if you want lots of color lots of the time. There’s always a place for oleander in a Florida garden.
The hardy and beautiful oleander tree thrives in a sunny spot anywhere in South Florida.
This ornamental flowering tree starts life as an oleander shrub, which can be left to grow large with a trimmed-up base as it becomes a multi-trunk tree. Or you can buy one trained to a single trunk for a more classic tree-like appearance.
Bright, showy flowers in shades of white, pink and red are most common, appearing on and off all year, more in warmer months.
Oleanders don’t take a lot of care – other than regular maintenance and a good spring pruning – if they’re planted in the right location.
They make a good choice as an easy-care tree for a small yard or as an accent for larger landscapes.
Unfortunately, the oleander plant has developed a reputation as a plant to avoid for two reasons:
- The plant is TOXIC if ingested – as are quite a few common South Florida landscape plants, including crotons.
- Oleanders attract particularly nasty caterpillars that can defoliate it in no time flat.
The toxins most commonly cause skin irritations from trimming and handling cuttings.
Not everyone is affected by this, but wearing good garden gloves and protective eyewear should keep you from having any adverse effects, even if you have sensitive skin.
Avoid planting where young children, pets or livestock would come in contact. If there’s a chance a child or animal will ingest leaves, stems or any part of an oleander, oleander poisoning is no small matter. Always place it in an area where this scenario can’t occur.
You can outsmart the nerium caterpillars by placing the tree far enough away from any structure so that the caterpillars have nowhere nearby to cocoon.
That’s their M.O. – eat, then cocoon. The more convenient the cocooning spot, the more likely it is that they’ll feed on your oleander.
Yellow oleander tree
Sometimes called “Lucky Nut” (but don’t eat the nuts!), this plant can be grown as a small tree of about 12 to 15 feet.
It’s a cousin of nerium oleander, and blooms throughout warm months. Botanical name is Cascabela thevetia – previously thevetia peruviana.
An oleander tree is a fast grower that can reach as much as 15 feet tall. It’s best kept fat and bushy around 6 to 8 feet tall, with a wide crown.
These plants are cold hardy – fine anywhere in South Florida including all of Zone 9. They are moderately salt-tolerant and moderately drought-tolerant once established.
The oleander is evergreen and blooms on and off all year, with heaviest flowering during warmer months. It’s also considered deer-resistant.
Plant in full to partial sun in an area that drains well.
Add top soil to the hole when you plant – and adding composted cow manure as well will get your oleander tree off to a great start.
Do a heavy pruning in spring (late March to early April) to encourage strong stems and bushy growth. Snip off new shoots around the base occasionally to keep the look of a tree.
If caterpillars attack your oleander, spray with thuracide, a natural bacterial product. Even if most of the leaves have been munched off, trim the tree back and it should flush out again.
Regular watering is best, though oleander trees prefer to dry out between waterings.
Fertilize three times a year – once each in spring, summer and autumn – with a quality granular fertilizer. You can supplement feedings with bone meal to promote heavier bloom.
Plant well away from structures to discourage caterpillars, preferably 10 to 12 feet or more from the house, fence, or anything else where caterpillars can cocoon.
If you’re planting several trees, they can go as close as 6 feet apart, or, for a more formal look, place them 10 to 12 feet apart.
Oleander trees will grow in large containers while young but at some point you’ll need to transfer the tree to a place in the yard.
Landscape uses for oleander tree
- anchor for a garden bed
- single yard specimen
- lining the side of a driveway
- in pairs flanking the open entrance (with no fence) to a drive or walkway
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? MAYBE (oleanders flower less in winter)
COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Plant with other easy-care sun lovers that won’t get tall enough to hide the tree’s trunk: carissa, blueberry flax lily, dwarf ixora, African iris, variegated arboricola, lantana, sweet potato vine, and beach sunflower.
Other plants you might like: Jatropha Tree Red Cluster Bottlebrush Tree
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- Small Flowering Trees
- Oleander Tree
Nerium oleander ‘Petite Pink’
A beauty of a plant, dwarf oleander ‘Petite Pink’ is hardy, compact, and adds a splash of color to the landscape.
This smaller size makes oleanders available to homeowners who don’t have the large space it takes to grow full-size varieties.
‘Petite Pink’ is the most commonly available dwarf variety, with pastel pink blossoms that can blanket the entire shrub.
If you ever wonder if a shrub is easy care, check to see how many commercial locations are using it. Dwarf oleander is often planted on the grounds of banks and other businesses. Care is minimal and the rewards are great.
Oleanders are poisonous if ingested, so keep this in mind if you have small children or pets that may munch their way around the garden.
Usually the only issue gardeners face – and not everyone is affected – is a skin irritation from the sap while trimming and handling cuttings.
The solution is to wear garden gloves when pruning the plant, as well as sunglasses (a plant’s stem can squirt you in the eye when you cut it).
Certain caterpillars like oleander plants. They devour the leaves and cocoon nearby. The dwarf oleander doesn’t seem to be as susceptible to these pests are full-size varieties but there’s always that possibility.
To avoid attracting the nerium caterpillar, place your plants away from structures where the bugs can cocoon. Check your shrubs regularly – if you spot caterpillars, begin a regimen of spraying thuracide – a natural bacteria – immediately.
Oleander shrubs are evergreen, cold hardy plants, thriving in both Zone 9 and 10.
They’re moderately salt-tolerant plants that prefer full to part sun areas and are moderately drought tolerant once established.
The Petite Pink dwarf variety grows to about 4 feet tall but can easily be kept at 3 feet.
Bloom time is on and off all year, more in warmer months.
Oleanders are considered to be deer-resistant plants.
Add top soil to the hole when you plant – or substitute organic peat humus. You can add composted cow manure as well to enrich the soil around the root ball.
Cut back hard in the spring…late March or early April. Trim to shape anytime.
Give your plants a regular drink with time to dry out between waterings.
Fertilize 3 times a year – in spring, summer and autumn – with a quality granular fertilizer. You can supplement feedings to promote more bloom by fertilizing with bone meal and/or liquid.
Place these dwarf shrubs about 3 feet apart. They’re best planted away from the house to avoid possible caterpillar problems, but if you decide to plant against the house come out at least 3 feet.
This small, pink oleander will grow in a container, though it does best planted in the ground.
Landscape uses for dwarf oleander
- around the patio
- as a low to medium hedge
- around tall palms or trees that let plenty of sunlight through
- along the property line
- lining a walk or driveway
- accent for a garden bed
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT: NO
COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Gold mound, plumbago, star jasmine, ruella, snowbush, Green Island ficus, Panama rose, blueberry flax lily, and juniper.
Other shrubs you might like: Oleander (full-size), Nora Grant Ixora
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- Small Shrubs
- Dwarf Oleander
Oleander – the flower with power!
Our garden is full of the ultimate Mediterranean summer flower, the oleander, in bloom right now. This plant whose flowers vary in hue from apricot to lilac, via salmon, pink, red, yellow, copper and even white, used to conjure up memories of summer holidays for me. (Now it’s just the arrival of summer, not specifically holidays). Driving on the long journey south through France you knew you had nearly arrived when the motorway central reservations became a riot of these colours. Every town in Provence has oleanders growing somewhere, they’re hardy, need very little water, bloom for months and months and look very jolly. But the oleander is no ordinary flower; it’s the flower with power!
But these innocent looking plants harbour a secret – they’re deadly poisonous. There are a number of urban myths surrounding their power; legends relate stories of either French soldiers or US boy scouts making skewers out of oleander branches to roast food on and dying of poisoning (take your pick which version you prefer!) Joking aside, they really do contain a powerful toxin which can be fatal for animals if ingested in large quantities and the sap can cause skin irritations, though there are very few cases of human death from oleander poisoning.
However, there is one notorious case of murder-by-oleander! In 1999 Oprah Winfrey chose a book for her Book Club ensuring it became an international best seller. In this book, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, a woman murders her partner using oleander sap. A year later, a woman from Los Angeles killed her husband using a mix of antifreeze and oleander sap in a macabre true-life copycat killing. She was sentenced to death and as far as I can gather is still awaiting execution on death row.
So, oleanders have the power to kill, but while that’s just a bit of sensationalism to spice up this post, they really do have the ability to brighten up any garden, public space, hedgerow or park. Oleanders are showy and fragrant, drought-resistant and tolerant of temperatures as low as -10° celsius. They can grow up to 6 metres and clever gardeners can prune oleander bushes into trees. They make great hedging, or stand-alone ornamental flowers. Best of all for lazy gardeners they provide a long-lasting burst of colour for very little effort!
Do you have a flower that reminds you of a particular time or place? What’s flowering in your garden right now? I’d love to hear from you.
You may enjoy these other posts about the garden at Lou Messugo:
Wild Spring garden
From forest to garden – 4 years in the making
September Mediterranean garden
Summer garden – flowers, weeds and bees