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oleander shrubs with pink flowers in a garden bed
Oleander is one of the toughest plants around. Once established, it will grow in most districts with no additional water. With highly scented flowers, evergreen foliage and few maintenance requirements, this is the perfect plant for set-and-forget gardens.

 

What you need to know about oleander

Name: oleander, Nerium oleander species and varieties.

Height: typically 3m+ with age, however dwarf forms that grow to about 1.2m are also available.

Foliage: evergreen.

Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid, sub-tropical and tropical.

Soil: not fussy about soils, and will even tolerate salt-affected ones.

Position: full sun, but will tolerate light shade.

Flowering: oleander flowers are trumpet shaped, perfumed, and white, pink or red in summer.

Feeding: usually not required.

Watering: water young oleander plants to get established. Older plants need very little water.

Appearance and characteristics of oleander

Oleander is an evergreen shrub with long, lance-shaped evergreen leaves. Plants tend to be vase-shaped, with many upright stems growing from the base.

Oleander flowers appear at the tips and occur throughout the summer months. They are sweetly scented and can be smelt from some distance. Colours range from white to pink and salmon to dark red. Occasionally varieties with a yellowish flower are available.

The oleander plant is well-known for being poisonous to people and pets, although the bitter taste of all parts means it’s pretty hard to ingest large amounts. However, bear this in mind before planting. The sap can also cause an irritation on the skin, so wear protective clothing when working around it.

Pink oleander flowers

Uses for oleander

Oleander plants are grown in hot and dry areas due to their ability to withstand harsh conditions. They can be used to form an evergreen screen—oleander hedges are quite common. Smaller forms can be grown in pots and containers.

How to plant and grow oleander

  1. Plant at any time of year except during extremely hot periods.
  2. Choose a sunny spot and make sure you give the plant plenty of room. Oleander is frost- and heat-tolerant.
  3. Prepare the soil with some organic matter, as this will help with establishment.

Caring for your oleander

This tough plant really doesn’t need much care once you have got it established. Mulching can help retain moisture through the dry periods.

Oleander pruning

Your oleander will not require specific pruning. Any dead or broken branches can be removed with secateurs or loppers. However, if you are interested in trimming your plant back, the best time to prune an oleander in Australia is directly after it’s bloomed.

Oleander diseases and pests

In warmer areas, oleander plants are occasionally attacked by the caterpillar of the common Australian crow butterfly, also known as the oleander butterfly. They rarely do enough damage to be of concern and can be left alone to develop into the lovely black-and-white butterfly.

How to propagate oleander

Growing oleander from cuttings

Oleander can be grown from cuttings taken in summer:

  1. Take cuttings from tips that have not flowered: Use cuttings about 10–15cm long and strip off the leaves from all but the top.
  2. Place a few cuttings into a pot of propagating sand.
  3. Keep well-watered. Oleander cuttings will also form roots in a jar of water.
  4. Pot up your rooted cuttings after about three months.

If you like this then try

Grevillea: tough shrubs with showy, bird-attracting flowers.

Bottlebrush: dry-tolerant, low-maintenance shrub perfect for screening and attracting birds.

Crepe myrtle: small, deciduous tree with summer flowers and autumn colour.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.