How to Winterize Oleander

Overview

Oleanders made their debut in America in 1841 when a merchant brought them to Texas from Jamaica. These plants may be grown as trees or shrubs, require little care, thrive in dry relatively conditions and are recommended for USDA Zones 8 through 10. Oleander produces colorful blooms in pink, red, white, purple and orange. Oleander may withstand light frosts and occasional drops in temperature, but if you are growing oleander in Zone 8 or below, it will need to be prepared to withstand the winter.

Zone 8

Step 1

Cut the plant back by half in mid-fall, before temperatures begin dipping consistently below freezing.

Step 2

Cover the soil around the root ball with about 3 to 4 inches of mulch to keep the roots warm.

Step 3

Cover the exposed part of the plant with plastic or a sheet if you expect several days of temperatures below zero.

Step 4

Water oleander once a week during the winter to help prevent freezing.

Zone 7

Step 1

Cut back oleander by about two-thirds before temperatures regularly drop below freezing.

Step 2

Dig up the oleander by loosening the soil around the roots. Gently lift it up with your hands, taking care not to damage the roots. Place the oleander in a pot with good soil and drainage.

Step 3

Bring the pot into a sheltered area, such as a shed, garage or sun porch. If possible, keep the pot in a sunny area. If you will be keeping the plant in an unheated area, cover the top of the pot with an old sheet or blanket to help keep the roots warm.

Step 4

Water the root ball once a week to keep it moist, but not wet. When the ground thaws, replace the root ball in the prepared ground and treat it as a new plant until re-established.

Container Oleander

Step 1

Cut back the plant by about one-half to two-thirds as fall approaches. At the first risk of frost, bring the container into a sheltered area.

Step 2

Place the pots in an area that gets good sun, if possible. If you leave your oleander in a non-heated structure over the winter, keep the roots warm by covering the soil with a blanket or sheet.

Step 3

Treat plants that are kept on a sun porch as you would any other potted plants. Water and fertilize regularly throughout the winter to encourage growth.

Step 4

Return the plants to their spots in the yard when ground begins to thaw. If there is a chance of frost, bring the plants back inside to avoid damage.

Tips and Warnings

  • Oleander is highly toxic when ingested and should not be used in areas with children or pets. Oleander will suffer leaf damage during frost, so be sure to bring plants in or protect them at the first sign of frost.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Plastic
  • Pots
  • Shovel

References

  • International Oleander Society
  • About Oleander
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: Oleander, winterize plants, Protect oleander

About this Author

J.D. Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the United States. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as travel and health topics. Chi received her Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward a master's degree in journalism.