Nerium oleander, more commonly known as Oleander, Pink Laurel, or Nerium, is a widely cultivated shrub used as an ornamental and landscape plant. It is so popular that its origin cannot be attributed exactly to a specific region, but it is often associated with the Mediterranean. In this article we will discuss how to propagate, grow oleander and its care.
- Botanical name: oleander nerium
- Family: Apocynaceae
- Plant type: Perennial.
- adult size: Height: up to 5 meters; width: up to 3 meters.
- Sun exposure: From full sun to partial shade.
- Soil type: Fertile and well drained.
- Soil pH: Alkaline.
- Flowering period: Spring through summer, sometimes early fall, and year-round in warmer climates.
- Flower color: From pure white to pale yellow, peach, salmon and pink to deep red.
Attention: Don’t make the mistake of eating oleander because, despite their adorable appearance, they contain substances poisonous enough to kill a heifer within hours. Always wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and pants when handling oleander.
Where to grow oleander
One factor to consider when growing oleander is its ability to grow. Since they can reach over 4 meters in height when mature.
They bloom in full sun and any type of soil (but preferably neutral soil) and produce a variety of flowers depending on the species. Light shade can be tolerated, but fewer flowers will be produced.
Oleanders are best planted in a location where they get full sun and are not hidden in shade or under other taller plants.
When it comes to temperature, oleanders do not thrive in winter or in weather below minus 5 degrees Celsius.
If you are going to grow oleanders in pots, choose one that is at least 20 liters in size so that it has enough space to grow well.
Propagate Oleander by cuttings (stems)
Oleander can be grown from its stem or from seed, but stem cuttings are more accessible and guaranteed success.
The best time of year to take oleander cuttings is summer, when the stem cuttings are fresh out of the vegetation, this is the best option. They can be planted any other time if conditions are good, but summer increases the chances of success.
Take oleander stem cuttings for planting. Keep in mind that not all cuttings are suitable for cultivation. The best are the twigs that have not yet bloomed.
Cut branches 4 to 8 inches from the top of a mature oleander plant. Second, prepare the cutting for propagation by removing all but the top 1/4 of the leaves from the stem.
Do not damage the stem by cutting too deeply; instead, leave the leaf buds cut off. This promotes root formation.
Make a cross cut at the base of the stem and remove the bark about 2 cm. Prepare individual pots if you are going to make more than one cutting, it helps not to damage the dedicated roots when transplanting.
Use garden soil mixed with compost to give it more food. Plant the cuttings in each pot, burying them about 5cm into the ground, then water well and leave the pots where they receive light but no direct sun while they establish their roots.
After a month or a few weeks, when new leaves have grown, you can transplant into a larger pot or garden soil.
How to replant an oleander
If you notice the roots oozing under the pot, the soil drying out quickly, or the plant starting to wilt, it means you need to repot it.
Repotting gives the plant new soil and more room to grow, but it’s also a delicate process that, if not done right, can kill the plant.
After you get your new, larger pot, lay the oleander on its side, hold the stem, and gently tap the bottom of the pot to release it.
The roots can be wrapped around the pot, so cut off any extra-long, rotten roots. Sterilize scissors after each cut to prevent transmission of bacteria.
Carefully place the oleander in the new pot and fill the remaining space with soil-based compost. It is not practical to transplant oleander in times of extreme weather conditions, such as winter, but rather with warm temperatures, such as spring.
Oleander prefers full sun. It also tolerates partial shade, but its foliage will be less dense. It also tolerates heat, drought, wind and coastal conditions.
Plant in well-drained soil for best results. Oleander bushes can adapt to many types of soil conditions: poor, sandy soils and a range of soil pH levels.
Oleanders prefer alkaline soils, but can grow in acidic or neutral soils, adapting to pH levels between 5.0 and 8.3. Before planting, check the pH level of the soil. If the soil is too acidic, mix it with crushed limestone, oyster shells or wood ash.
Moderate watering is necessary. However, excessive watering without adequate drainage can lead to rotting and yellowing of the leaves.
Water whenever the first centimeter of soil is dry. If you are transplanting an oleander from one pot to another, choose a larger container with drainage holes to prevent the plant from becoming encysted.
Feed poor soil a light dose of balanced fertilizer during the plant’s first spring and a light annual fertilization thereafter. Now the established oleander does not feed much.
It is recommended to use a granular 10-10-10 compost or any high potassium fertilizer such as compost.
Potted oleander requires fertilizing every four to six weeks. The soil that oleanders are in can lose nutrients during their first spring in gardens, so adding compost to replenish lost nutrients is a good idea.
temperature and humidity
Oleander can tolerate light frosts and temperatures down to minus 5 degrees Celsius. In climates where temperatures drop below, grow the plant in a container and bring it indoors for the winter.
The best time to prune oleanders is at the end of winter, just before new growth appears. Oleanders bloom in summer on new shoots.
Pinch off the tips of young stems to prevent brittleness and promote branching. Also prune damaged or diseased branches.
Bring container-grown oleanders indoors to cooler areas. Before winter sets in, generously prune the bush by about two-thirds.
If the plant is established in the ground, carefully dig around the roots to get it out of the ground. Repot the plant with good soil and move it to a sheltered location with full sun, such as a porch or garage with a window.
Plagues and diseases
Oleander leaves contain latex and plant extracts are a powerful insecticide. For this reason, they rarely have serious disease or pest problems. They are particularly resistant to verticillium wilt. Even so, care should be taken with aphids, scale insects and scale insects.
The most harmful pests are oleander caterpillars. Mature caterpillars can scale the walls of adjacent buildings and breed near eaves. Remove buds to control the next generation, which could eat all of the plant’s foliage in a week or two.
Is oleander poisonous?
All species of oleander are poisonous because this plant contains toxic cardiac glycosides. You shouldn’t even inhale the smoke from a burning oleander.
When consumed by an animal or a human, oleander can damage the heart, blood, vision and digestive system. It also affects the nervous system, which can lead to depression. These symptoms may persist for one to three days before causing death.
According to a study published by Senaka Rajapakse in 2009 (via the National Library of Medicine), there is no first aid for oleander poisoning; the best remedy is to consult a professional as soon as it is consumed.
It may also be interesting to read: Methods of propagating African violet through a leaf.
Also, it is not recommended to grow oleander in landscapes near schools, farms, or homes where children, animals, and pets live.
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