Oleander

Oleander flowers

A group of excellent, long-flowering evergreen shrubs that grow in warm Mediterranean regions. Suitable only for frost-free areas in the UK or as conservatory plants.

Family: Apocynoideae (dogbane family),
Botanical Name: Nerium oleander
Common Names: Oleander, rose bay, Jamaica South Sea rose

Foliage: Evergreen, narrow, lance-shaped, grey-green leaves.

Flowers: Sweetly-fragrant, flared tubular flowers. Single or double. Usually in shades of white, pink or red. Often followed by bean-like seed pods.

Flowering Period: May to September.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun, will tolerate some shade. Position in a south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Tender shrub.

Origin: Mediterranean.

Hardiness: Tender in the UK - protect from frost. Hardy down to about -5°C.

Toxicity: All parts of this plant are extremely toxic if ingested. Contact with foliage can irritate skin. Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling.

Planting and Growing Oleander

Thrives in any reasonable well-drained soil or compost, in full sun. Although drought tolerant, they flower better if regularly watered.

Oleanders are frost tender and should only be grown in a conservatory or warm greenhouse in cold regions. If grown in containers they can be moved outside during the summer and returned indoors in September, before the first frosts.

In mild and coastal regions they can be grown outside in a light sandy soil, so long as protection is provided in severe winters.

Taking Care of Oleander

Water regularly during dry weather and water container grown plants daily.

To improve flowering, apply an all-purpose flowering plant food (slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium) every few weeks, or use a slow release form. Do not over fertilise.

Pruning

Not necessary, except to restrict growth and maintain a good dense habit. It can be cut back quite hard every few years or so to promote fresh strong growth.

Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by red spider mite, scale insects and mealybugs when grown under glass.

Propagating Oleander

Take half-ripe cuttings in summer and root in a propagator.

Varieties of Oleander

Nerium oleander is a tender evergreen shrub with narrowly lance-shaped, grey-green leaves. Terminal clusters of salver-shaped, white, pink or red flowers throughout summer. Height up to 13ft (4m). For sale at You Garden. Cultivars 'Splendens' and 'Provence' are good double forms.