Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Plant I.D. Nerium Oleander

Nerium oleander - Oleander
(Plant Profile Saturday)
an oleander hedge
Oleander is a native Mediterranean shrub that grows ubiquitously here in Sacramento, especially on freeways and median strips. Here are some of its characteristics:

Size: This is a large evergreen shrub. The species grows rapidly, 4 - 6"/year, until it reaches a height of 18 - 20' and a width of 12 - 15'. There are cultivars, such as Petite Pink, that are much smaller, with a height of 3 - 6'.

strip mall oleander

Pruning: Because it is so tolerant of pruning, it is frequently seem as a 6' hedge, a lollypop, or a multi-stemmed tree. It may be too top-heavy until its trunk has some girth, so will require some staking. If it has become ugly or too leggy, it can be cut to the ground before new growth in the spring and it will come back. If it is "skirted up" to create a tree form, it will continue to produce basal growth, so you will need to continue that pruning or you could wind up with an oleander bustle at its base.

oleander bustle

Poisonous: yes, all parts if eaten. Can cause severe irritation if its smoke is inhaled, so don't burn trimings.

Care: Oleanders like regular water, but are drought tolerant ... can take sun or shade, acidic to alkaline soils. In other words, everything!

Propagation: by seed.

Leaf & Flower: long narrow leaves are 5 - 10", 3 leaves at each node. Red, white and pink flowers bloom from spring to fall (newer cultivars provide additional colors).

The GF (Green Factor): most commonly, "right plant for the right place" is violated with this shrub due to the extra pruning, extra green waste, and, yes, extra work! It is a useful landscape shrub and can provide great background color, but the ultimate size should be considered before planting.

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

1 comment:

  1. Jeanne, I really, really like the Oleander! it seems to be quite tolerant of heat and traffic-noise-dirt, as it grows without apparent care in the medians. It doesn't seem to need much pruning. Where do i buy seeds ? Great bit on the Oleander btw. H&K, Whit