Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Quick facts and care essentials
• Zones 8-16, 18-31
• Full sun
• Regular to little watering
This extremely tough shrub thrives in areas with fairly mild winters (lows to 15 °F/-9 °C) and warm to hot summers. Flowers in bright shades of red, pink, and salmon, as well as in white and yellow shades, appear in clusters at stem tips and bloom throughout much of the year; some varieties bear fragrant blooms. Narrow, glossy dark green leaves grow 4 to 12 inches long. The plant grows rapidly to form a rounded mound to 6 to 12 feet tall and wide. Smaller oleanders ― to 4 to 5 feet tall and wide ― are also sold.
Oleander stands up to difficult growing conditions, including heat, drought, alkaline soil, and wind. It’s often used for screens, windbreaks, or borders along roads or driveways. It’s a good large container plant and can be pruned to grow as a single-stemmed standard, with branches emerging from the trunk about 5 feet above the ground.
Prune oleander regularly by removing older stems to the ground; if unpruned, plants become too dense, resulting in thinner foliage and fewer flowers. To reduce height, pinch out individual stem tips.
Note: All parts of oleander are toxic if ingested. Smoke from burning branches and leaves is also toxic if inhaled, so do not burn oleander prunings.