Oleander Plant Care

Oleander Plant Care

Oleander Plant Care (Nerium Oleander) in the Southwest USA.  Once established it is a carefree plant.  Most will bloom from late spring until the mid-summer.  With long slender leaves that resemble the Rosewood or Olive plants.

They are drought tolerant once they become well established usually after the third year or so.  Water occasionally during the hot summer months to produce more growth and flowering.  They thrive in poor soil but will do better if planted with good soil. They are fast growers and can be used as a border wall for privacy or street noise.

Oleanders are hard to kill but one thing they don’t like is temperatures below 15° Fahrenheit.  It is a plant that can be pulled out and planted elsewhere without any problems.  The USDA gardening zones for Oleanders are 8 through 10.  Plant them in the full direct hot sun. They will also do well in the morning sun and late afternoon shade.

Types of Oleanders

There are about 40 types of varieties of Oleanders.  Oleanders are drought tolerant after they get established.  Typically after the third year after planting. Great flowering color all mid-spring till about mid-summer.  The white, pink, and red oleanders are the most common.  They will grow to about 15-20 ft. Tall and wide. Below are images of the most common ones.

The Hardy Pink Oleander

One of the most common Oleander is the Hardy Pink one.  It will reach about 20 ft. in height and 10 maybe 15 ft. wide.

Oleander Plant Care
The Pink Oleander


The Red Oleander

These bright red flowers will bloom from late spring until mid-summer.   They will grow at about 20 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide. The red is the most common and can be seen throughout the American Southwest from Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and south Texas.

Oleander Plant Care
The Red Oleander

The White Oleander

The White Oleander will show off a ton of white blooms from late spring until most of the summer seasons.  It is in my opinion the hardiest and longest blooming Oleander for the Desert Southwest.

White Oleander Plants
A row of white mature Oleander plants.

The White Sands Oleander

It is a shorter version of the White Oleander (dwarf). It will reach about 4 maybe 5 ft. in height and 3-4 ft. wide.  A good Oleander for a shorter type border in any desert style landscape.  The flower is a bright white flower named after the White Sands national park.

Mrs. Roeding Oleander

This Oleander has a bright pink/peach color that is fragrant and will grow about 8 maybe 10 ft. in height 5-7 ft. wide.  Another good shrub to use as a border plant or plant it by itself in the Southwest desert landscape scene.

You can also train these shrubs to grow as a single trunk or multi-trunk tree.  Just prune off the bottom suckers or smaller stems at the bottom for a great tree-like shrub.

Problems with Oleanders

Oleanders are very hardy in places where it rarely freezes but if temperatures dip into the teens or lower it will get stressed and may not sprout out the following spring.

It is susceptible to yellow aphids, Oleander gall, and Witch’s broom.   Spraying with a good insecticide will quickly kill yellow aphids.  You can also use neem oil as an organic substitute to kill these insects.

The Oleander gall also called woody warts is a type of bacteria on these plants and can be trimmed off in late winter.  It is best to trim 2-3 inches below the infected area and clean your pruning tools with 10% alcohol and water.  Yes, it is a long process but the last thing you want is to infect another part of your plant.  Be sure to toss the clipping into a large plastic bag or container.  Photos and information on Oleander Gall. 

Learn more about Insects and Diseases on Plants.

Another thing you could do is to trim down close to the surface leaving about 6 inches of stems protruding out.  Oleanders are vigorous growers and will regrow to original height in 2-3 years.

Are Oleanders Poisonous?

Yes, they are, ingesting or chewing on its stems or leaves and you will get very sick.  It is rare that an adult person will die by eating a leaf or two but it will make you very sick.  A child will get seriously ill and may die.  Any part of the Oleander plant is highly toxic to all mammals. Take this into consideration before purchasing and planting Oleanders in your landscape area. Poison Control Center. 

Despite their toxic qualities, these plants are seen throughout the Southwestern part of the U.S. from southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and south Texas.


Oleander Plant Care – American Southwest Plants

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