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NERIUM oleander

Image of Nerium oleander

Nancy Engel

Family

Apocynaceae

Botanical Name

NERIUM oleander

Plant Common Name

Oleander

General Description

Oleander is a tough Mediterranean shrub that thrives where summers are dry and hot. It is a large, evergreen shrub with bushy, rounded to vase-shaped habit. Leathery, linear, lance-shaped leaves line the branches throughout the year and emit white latex when broken. The colorful flowers appear all year around but bloom most heavily from late winter to early summer. They are borne in loose clusters at the ends of the branches and are funnel-shaped at the base with five prominent radial petals that flare at the mouth. There are lots of colors to choose from in shades of red, pink, and white.

Plant this tough shrub in full sun and well-draining soil. Oleanders are very drought tolerant but develop a better floral display and overall form if regular water and good growing conditions. Oleander is a popular hedge plant that is often heavily sheared. Shearing is less desirable because it reduces flower production. It is preferable to shape plants selectively with prudent hand pruning. This is an excellent plant for difficult areas. It may be planted in large containers, as a specimen shrub, in mixed plantings or for screening.

There are many cultivars that may be fragrant or have the additional bloom colors of yellow, salmon and lilac. Dwarf and variegated forms also exist.

Potential health concerns are associated with this plant. For more information about the toxicity of oleander see http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Neriuol.htm.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    6'-20' / 1.8m - 6.1m

  • Width

    3'-10' / 0.9m - 3.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Mediterranean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Salt, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Yellow, Red, Light Yellow, Pink, Orange Red, Dark Salmon

  • Fruit Color

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No