Care of Oleander Plants

Overview

The evergreen oleander shrub (Nerium oleander) produces a profusion of dark green, glossy foliage covered in yellow, white, red or pink blossoms. The extremely hardy shrub reaches a height of up to 18 feet and almost the same across, making it prime as an accent piece or as an ornamental privacy screen. Oleander thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 and, with the proper care, can provide you with years of enjoyment. It's perfect for the low-maintenance landscape, with the University of Florida calling it one of the easiest shrubs to care for.

Step 1

Choose a location to plant the oleander. Oleander grows best in full sun but can tolerate any type of soil, including dirt that's usually too poor to support other types of shrubs, according to the University of Florida.

Step 2

Dig a hole. Make the hole twice as big as the oleander sapling's pot or root ball diameter, and 2 to 3 inches shorter than the height of the pot or root ball.

Step 3

Mix a couple inches of aged compost into the bottom of the hole. Place the oleander shrub in the hole and push soil in around the plant to fill in any cracks.

Step 4

Water the oleander once a day, moistening the soil to the depth of the plant's root ball. Continue watering daily until the oleander plant is established, exhibited by the appearance of new growth on the shrub. Stop watering after establishment. The shrub thrives in drought conditions, according to the University of Florida, and rainfall is enough to hydrate it.

Step 5

Fertilize the shrub once a year in the spring. Use a standard fertilizer intended for shrub usage, such as a 10-30-10 or 6-20-0 product. Apply the fertilizer according to the rate on its label, since potency varies by product.

Step 6

Control pests that may occasionally attack the oleander plant. Common pests include soft scales, aphids, armored scales and mealybugs, according to the University of California. The university recommends a basic insecticidal soap or horticultural oil spray to control such pests.

Tips and Warnings

  • Oleander sap is poisonous and individuals should avoid eating any part of the plant or consuming its sap. Report ingestion of oleander to the National Poison Control Center or dial 911.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Aged compost
  • Oleander saplings
  • Water
  • Shrub fertilizer
  • Insecticide

References

  • "Taylor's Guide to Shrubs: How to Select and Grow More than 500 Ornamental and Useful Shrubs for Privacy, Ground Covers, and Specimen Plantings"; Kathleen Fisher; 2001
  • University of Florida: Oleander
  • University of California: Oleander Pests and Diseases

Who Can Help

  • University of Maryland: Oleander Poisoning
Keywords: oleander shrub care, oleander plant care, growing oleander

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.