Thursday, February 24, 2011


In my last post, I spoke about xylosma and mentioned oleander.  If you've never heard about oleander, then I encourage you to ask people about this controversial plant. But no matter what people will say, there is no denying that this plant is seen in landscapes across California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Texas and many other states. It's an aggressive plant that is green and lush which originates from the Mediterranean.  It thrives from neglect and harsh sun.  Without a doubt, if given FULL sun, this plant will not fail and grow to large heights and block out your gawking neighbors.  It's also root invasive so keep it away from the foundations of homes and other structures.  Once established, this plant is almost a weed and can be invasive.  The plant can also put seed out this time of year and randomly pop up in your yard somewhere.  So what should you know about oleander?  Let me start with the pros and then go into cons....
  1. Green green green and lush
  2. Pretty flowers in spring
  3. Blocks noise and annoying neighbors
  4. Makes a GREAT natural screen...if you don't want a fence, plant oleander instead
  5. They are extremely low maintenance once established in FULL sun
  6. Don't put this plant in shade as it will look leggy
  7. It can take some abuse and loves pruning!  In fact, this is a great plant to experiment on when you begin learning how to prune plants. Don't prune in winter.  Wait until the second week of March
  8. Nice hedge to use in repetition
  9. Beautiful flowers in spring/and a lot of color varieties
  10. It's also attractive to a certain Oleander Caterpillar
  1. Root invasive
  2. Poisoness leaves and stems; wear gloves
  3. While it does lose leaves, winter can make the plant look shabby and leaves will look burned
  4. Can destroy foundations with its' invasive roots
  5. Overused in the desert landscape
  6. Affected in some parts like Phoenix and California by Oleander Leaf Scorch...more on this on tomorrow's blog.  It's a huge concern for California and several states near California

This is a strong plant that is difficult to kill once established so think carefully before planting.  Stay tuned for more on strong Zone 9 plants!


  1. Well, all my experiences with oleander have been good. Most likely because it can't handle our winters and take over.
    We have a "family oleander plant." It was my grandmother's or great grandmother's. I'd have to check the write up about it my aunt did. Anyway, it lives in a large pot, spends winters inside and summers outside. My aunt gave it to my sister who did repot it and put a start in her yard. It does well there dying to the ground each winter and resprouting in the spring, but the one that comes in the house blooms. We've always know it is poisonous which worries me a bit, but it's not around little kids or pets. My sister seems to be having good luck with the "family oleander."

  2. Oh yeah we have oleander's everywhere here in CA. Especially along the freeways. We used to have these plants in the backyard of our first house. I had to trim those darn things a couple of times a year. They were huge! And growing in them was this black raspberry plant. It was there when we bought the house. So I got scratched up a lot. But every year we got enough berries to make a pie and also put in our cereal! Yum!


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