Oh My Oleander
Need a plant that is as tough as it is beautiful? Oleander may be just right!
Oleander, a large, fast-growing evergreen shrub that produces fragrant, showy flowers throughout the summer and into the fall, is hugely popular in coastal and desert climates because it tolerates salty and arid environments with ease.
Oleander can also be stunning in more hospitable environments.
For example, Southern Living Plant Collection’s Twist of Pink variegated oleander, which grows to 6 or 8 feet high and wide and features green and white foliage and rich pink summer blooms, makes a beautiful accent plant in any landscape setting but also is great as a container plant, on slopes, in mass plantings and as a screening hedge along property lines and roadways.
This low-maintenance shrub thrives in growing zones 8 through 10 and can often be used in cooler growing zones if planted in a protected area. It is drought-tolerant, has few pests and adapts well to virtually any soil type, plus it can be planted almost any time of year as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
The primary consideration in choosing an oleander for your landscape is location.
They need full sun to flower at their best and, because oleander sap can be poisonous if ingested, avoid planting it along pasture fence lines or near play areas where livestock or small children might sample its blooms or leaves.
Oleanders usually need a late summer or fall pruning (August through October, is best, though not after the weather gets chilly) to help shape them, control their size and to encourage more flowers. Just snip the branches right above a leaf node to whatever height and shape you desire.
After pruning, wash any sap off your skin and clothes.
To be extra safe, dispose of cuttings safely in a sealed plastic bag and do not add them to compost heaps or burn piles.
Oleander is truly one tough, but easy beauty, that can add color, fragrance and form to your landscape year-long and for years to come.