Where to plant Oleanders

51 years ago

I have recently purchased 5 Oleanders and have heard conficting stories. Are they trees or shrubs. I wanted to plant them against the house in a bed. Then I heard they can get to be 15 ft. tall. Should I plant them in the open so they have room to grow? or can you keep them trimmed to about 3ft? Any advice would be nice.

Comments (79)

  • harleylady
    18 years ago

    I used to hate them before I built a house in the desert. Now I love anything that gives me greenery and flowers with minimal water since we don't have any water system and I have to buy all my water by the tanker truckload. My Northwest garden can get 3" of rain in a few hours, here we are lucky to get 3" a year! It is very precious...

  • eileenaz
    18 years ago

    I doubt if I'll bring anything new to this thread, but here's my $.02 anyhow.
    As long as it's not the &$*%@#^ Florida, or yellow oleander, which is always dropping blooms, leaves, branches, and something or other and rots the second it hits the ground and draws snails and slugs and all sorts of gross stuff, oleanders can be a real salvation in an arid climate. They are poisonous, and more problematic to folks who are allergic, which is CLINICALLY TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM POISONING. My mother tells the story about when we'd first moved to Tucson, she'd been told that oleanders were poison and not to be eaten, and she walked out back one day to see my sis and me (ages 4 & 6) chewing on oleander leaves. We didn't have a reaction to it, fortunately, probably didn't swallow any of it either. I've not had any ill effects from trimming them back, never thought to use gloves. Most plants that green and yet drought-tolerant shouldn't be planted too closely to buildings- probably has invasive roots, which is how it manages to survive. When they get all leggy, cut 'em back and they come back, they have pretty blooms, and they can cover a multitude of butt-ugly neighbors' yards. They're good sound blocks, too. They also help keep buildings and yards cooler because of the shade they provide, which can be important in hot climates.
    BTW- Thanks, Monty and Angus, for setting the record straight about the tennis backstops. ;-)
    One more thing- firefighters will too put out burning oleanders- that's part of their job, for crying out loud! If they'll put out a burning building full of materials that crank out tons of toxic smoke and fumes they aren't going to pull up short and let an oleander hedge burn.

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  • azamigo
    18 years ago

    Garnet150, oleander DO NOT put out airborne pollen. Plants that have large, colorful flowers are polinated through beas, butterflies, ect and have heavy sticky pollen-not the kind that is airborne. The reason many people think they pollinate is that they sneeze when they get near them. Oleanders get so big and have such big leaves that pollen from other airborn pollinating trees lands on the oleanders. When you walk by you become sensative to the other plants pollen, not the oleander.

  • farmerjohn7
    17 years ago

    Is there another suitable hedge besides Oleander to provide a screen and sound barrier? My neighbor has horses that may reach over the fence and eat them. What is the best distance from a fence to plant Oleander?

  • angeles13
    17 years ago

    I have to say Oleanders should never be planted in neighborhoods. 45 feet of sewer line is completely destroyed by their roots. I am digging up roots 14" down from the surface that are 2 inches in diameter.

    Definately not a plant that is very good. Very poisenous, toxic, and very destructive!!!

  • catnip_zone7
    17 years ago

    what about zone7.. will that kill them?

  • ijb4000
    17 years ago


    I live in Spain and we also get them everywhere including along motorways! I think it is the staple plant of the region.

    I have just recently planted 22 large specimens to try and get a quicker hedge to hide my neighbour's garden. Also last year I planted a few small ones in various parts of the garden.

    Unfortunately when I fed them with a general fertilizer last month (the small ones that I planted last year), as the weather was becoming springlike, they all went brown and blotchy and now over half are dead! I think the lesson to be learnt here is just leave them alone unless they look starved of nutrients.

    I have seen some examples in Spain which are yellowing which is what initially prompted me to feed them as a preventative measure. As I am only a new resident to Spain coming from England (where we never see them) I am still learning by trial and error.

    Another symptom I seem to be getting on a small number of plants is a pale yellowing in the middle of the leaves. I think it is either the heavy and prolonged rains that we have had recently or the compost is too rich. I'm not sure but obviously less intervention rather than more appears to suit these plants best.

  • Robin_FL
    17 years ago

    Oleanders are a native of Anatolia, now known as Turkey. Although some horses may have eaten oleanders, there have been oleanders and horses in Turkey far longer than the US and they haven't had much of a problem with them. I live in Florida and never water my oleanders, even during drought season which can be harsh and they always look good. Do people really go around licking leaves in the yard? Hey, if you want a good hedge plant that isn't poisonous, go for a bamboo. Heck, you can even get some that are quite edible if you must snack on your yard.

    Yes, I do believe oleanders will die in zone 7.


  • pjcalgirl
    16 years ago

    Harley Lady those lovely plants were MEANT for serious desert landscaping.Freeway dividers too. I have this neighbor who acquired his house form his late mother. He obviously got the house cheap and didn't care to care for it....I have oleanders between he and I.Alot of people use them for fences that have lots of acreage. I would not plant then with my goofy dogs/curious kids in the back yard however.PJ

  • FrFTT
    16 years ago

    I have an ooeander plant I keep outside during the summer.
    However, we get extremly cold weather and piles of snow
    in Montreal, Canada.We have to take them indoors during the winter because of severe frost. Can they just stay in an ordinary room with daylight and withn electric light during the evening? Or, should I, as I have been told, put them in a cool dark place until the spring.

    I hope someone can help me with this.


  • The_Mohave__Kid
    16 years ago

    I myself have never grown them indoors but they are used as house plants in some parts of the US ..."The House Plant Epert" by Dr. DG Hessayon also suggest an unheated room for winter ( 45 F minimum ) ... I would think keeping it in a warmer room would require adequate light and water ... but to illuminate the whole canopy may require more light then you think in your area of the world.

    Good Day ...

  • roo2000
    16 years ago

    And just to throw a wrench in the whole thing, we're starting to see oleander scorch in Phoenix.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Oleander Scorch

  • The_Mohave__Kid
    16 years ago

    Hello roo ..

    Thats interesting ... I don't believe it has been reported in Southern Nevada ... I will have to keep my eyes open for it.

    Good Day ...

  • mesquiteent
    16 years ago

    I'm in Zone 7B, and oleanders are mostly hardy here. The red ones do fine, so those are the only ones that we bother with. Somtimes the other colors will come back, but it seems to take them a lot longer. I don't know how hardy they are in 7A, though...

  • jwutzke
    16 years ago

    God I wish they only grew 15 feet tall! When we bought our house last fall, they were 15 feet wide! We gained easily 12 feet of yard by cutting cutting cutting like we were bushwacking in the jungle. These plants are by all accounts 60+ years old, dating back to the original subdivision in the 1930s. Most trunks are 6 to 9 inches in diameter (not circumference), and they are easily 25 feet tall, and the top half of that growth that just in the last 5 years (the former owner kept them trimmed to 12-15 feet high, before he got to frail to do so). Of course, they were planted not only parallel to the sewer line, but along the "trough" on the side of the yard where the canal irrigation flows -- basically water was the least of their concerns!

    As a result, we've had the same sewer problems noted -- paid $200+ after moving in when the sewer stopped running, and already it's slowing down again.

    Worst problem, though, was the trash in the interior. I didn't find any cricket balls :) but there was 4+ feet of dead leaves, fallen branches, etc. crammed into the core of the plants -- a major fire hazard, but also a haven for rats, roaches, termites, etc. Our neighbor was complaining when we cleared out the trash -- "I'm losing my privacy!" (the plants are entirely on our property) -- and I asked whether he'd rather have 4 feet of fire fuel and termite food left along his property line, near his house and garage. He's been mum since.

    Bottom line -- they look great on other people's property.

  • rindar
    12 years ago

    I have come to really dislike Oleanders. We bought a 1960's house with 4 very established white oleanders. Aside from them being poisonous, they are also messy, grow back way too fast, and leak sticky white poisonous sap every time you prune. Unless you like to prune year round and sweep and rake and get rid of countless branches, leaves and spent flowers all of which are sticky, oh and unless you have no allergies too, don't get an Oleander! On a scale of one to ten, they are a 6 for allergies. Not too bad, but they get huge and unruly. My husband spent all day cutting one down, and it took five separate exhausting yard waste bins to get rid of most of the waste from it (one per week). It's already grown back to 5' x 5' in those five weeks. So annoying. I usually like drought tolerant plants. I think theyre great for freeways, but suck for backyards unless you have an acre to spare.

  • mikemidkiff
    12 years ago

    maybe a silly question but can the roots travel to a swimming pool and crash through the plaster walls?

  • burns12
    12 years ago

    I was planning on planting oleanders next to may house and letting them grow to about 10 feet but i beleive everyones conversation has changed my mind. (For one, my septic tank is actually inside where I marked off for onr of my flowerbed). I like that they are evergreen, they get fairly tall, and they have a very long blooming season. I live in east alabama (zone 7) and the front side of my house does not get a lot of sun. What could I use as an alternative to oleanders?

  • sweet_betsy No AL Z7
    12 years ago


    On the north side of my house I am able to grow hydrangea macrophylla, abelia, oakleaf hydrangea, azaleas, aucuba and
    nandina. Perhaps one of these will work for you. After reading this thread I believe that I will plant the red oleander that I've always wanted further from my house.

  • robbie_2009
    12 years ago

    Hi-my boyfriend just arrived at my California desert home from eastern Canada for a visit. I have huge oleander bushes that border my property. He has been coughing and sniffing since he came here-I was wondering if this is an allergy from the oleanders-Robbie

  • steishii
    11 years ago

    Does anyone know if it is safe to plant veggies and herbs near oleanders?

  • okie_plants
    11 years ago

    I am new to Oleanders and I am glad I read the forum before I planted my oleander. I put it in a large pot to keep it from taking over the area that I planted it in and if I decide I don't like it I won't have to worry about killing it. I put it on my patio and it gets sun during the hottest part of the day. That is the afternoon and evening sun. The plant lost its blooms about a week after I planted it and has not bloomed again (that was about 2-3 weeks ago). Although, there are small buds that look like it might bloom again. Is there something I need to do to that will help it bloom again? This year is one of the hottest years on record, up to 108 degrees so far and no hint of cooling down. Could the heat be affecting it? Althought, the crape myrtles are blooming very pretty this year they are wilting because of the heat. How often should I water the Oleander? I am worried that I am watering it to much because it has been so hot this year. I have been watering it almost every morning. It is in a pot so I am going to only water it every other day and see if it is OK. Are Oleanders as hearty as Crape Myrtles? I love the Crape Myrtles because the hotter it gets the better they bloom. How do Oleanders compare to Crape Myrtles, as Crape Myrtles are difficult to kill, love the sun, and can be cut up like a tree? How is the care different, besides Oleanders being poisonous? Thanks for any info about how to get my Oleander to grow strong.

  • hosenemesis
    11 years ago

    Robbie, unlikely it was the oleander. They do not produce that much pollen. It was probably something else.

    Steishii, I not only plant near my oleanders, I plant vegetables in dirt that oleander mulch has been added to. No ill effects, and the squash and tomatoes don't taste like oleander sap (don't ask).

    Okieplants, I have never seen an oleander grown in a pot. Their roots need space. If you purchased a dwarf variety, it might live in the pot, but I don't think it would do well. Oleanders bloom once a year, but they have an extended period of bloom. Oleanders are tougher than Crape Myrtles, I believe, but they are subject to a blight introduced by a sucking insect. Once they get this blight, called Oleander Leaf Scorch, that's it- they die.

  • jorjie
    11 years ago

    I have a big beautiful oleander in the back corner of the yard. I don't have a problem with it nor a question about it exactly. I always thought lantana would grow anywhere so I planted some near this oleander. The lantana did not grow. I kept the oleander clipped so the lantana had full sun. I just wondered if the oleander is the reason the lantana did not grow.

  • jakkom
    11 years ago

    Jorjie, it's difficult for other plants to become established when competing against a plant that has 'greedy' surface roots. I've actually had more success planting near - not right up against the trunk, but close by - oleanders than I've had planting close to liquidambers (sweetgums). It's probably a combination of allelopathy and lack of water.

  • sherit22
    11 years ago

    I just purchased a few oleanders from a local nursery. The owner told me they were called Christmas Cheer, but I cannot find any information about such a variety. Is there such a variety and what are the characteristics? I want to make sure I don't plant them in a place where they will cause problems later. He said they are a dwarf variety and will only get 6-8 feet tall. Also, will I be able to take cuttings from these? He didn't have any more and I need to make a long hedge for a screen. Also, is this variety hardy here in central AL?
    Great blog-Thx!

  • ladyharley
    11 years ago

    I have four oleander bushes in a row and they are approx. 6-8 years old, and about 7-8 feet tall +/- Only (1) of the bushes the stems are sagging. The others have the same height, but are not sagging. It appears that the flowers are weighing this bush down. Is that a serious thing to worry about or can I just cut off the flowers and not thwart anymore growth?


  • lazy_gardens
    11 years ago

    Lady Harley - The sagging will not hurt the plant.

    Cutting off the flowers will slow the growth down. The flowers are produced on the growing tip of the plant.

  • harleybikerlady1962_gmail_com
    10 years ago

    I live in the Charleston SC area. We have Oleanders all over the place here. They are down along the Battery where you walk, just all over the place. I noticed them when I first moved here and fell in love with them. The flowers are blooming forever, the smell is amazing as are the different colors. There are so many things in life to be worried about and I do not think this is one of them. Like someone said in one of the earlier messages, leaves on rubarb plants are poisenious. As a little girl, I grew up picking Rubarb and I am almost 50 and still alive and going strong. It is like everything else in life, education...We just added another section to our front porch and there just happens to be an oleander right at the end. It is small only about 3' but we are planning to keep it right where it is, close to the porch and house. I have already trimmed it back and we are probably going to take one large branch off the back. It really is no big deal to keep these pruned to where you want them. Just think of it as therapy. lol....If it is a plant that you enjoy, go ahead and ask questions and do your homework, but like I said if you like it than run with it.....just don't eat it or play ball around it. lolol....I was shocked to read a couple of responses where people actually were getting angry over a game or loosing things... PEOPLE, PICK AND CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES.....this is just a plant for goodness sake...ENJOY the OLEANDER....

  • my31_gmx_com
    10 years ago

    I notice Oleanders by pools, but after reading some of the post I am wondering why people plant them so close to pools, if their roots somehow find their way to sewers.(?)
    Does anyone have any suggestions. I planted four about 3-4 feet from our pool next to our fence...for privacy.

  • vanant_erie_yahoo_com
    10 years ago

    Interesting thread, 11 years old! I planted a tree-like oleander in a big huge pot this past summer and also got a bush-like one which I brought in for winter. The tree doesn't looks so happy right now but it's been through some blizzards and cold weather. It loved its sunny spot this past summer. The bush seems to be hanging tight. Only place I had to put it is by a west-facing window.

    Just to clarify some spelling: POISONOUS, DEFINITELY, CREPE MYRTLE. Also folks watch your possessives and your plurals! Please forgive . . . couldn't help it . . . Pat

  • ropamfrazier_gmail_com
    10 years ago

    I am new at planting and have tried several types of perennials and annuals throughout my 5 years of homeownership. I planted a Dwarf Holly Burford which was only less than a foot tall about 3 years ago and it grew 5 feet high and wide. I just transplanted it a week ago and it died. Therefore, I went and purchased some Orleanders today and got them for 1/2 price due to a pricing error (yeay me). I planted two about 4 feet away from my japanese boxwoods and 6 feet away from my garden but only 2 feet away from my house. After planting, I came online to do some research on caring for them and found this thread. I'm concerned about the distance now from my house and from my other shrubs and the fact that I planted 2 about 1 foot apart. Should I dig them up? They are currently 2-3 feet tall now. I also planted 1 at the back of my yard about 3 feet away from my fence and about 15 feet away from my children's playset. Should I worry? My children are 8 and know not to eat plants or go near these as they are poisonous (didn't know at time of purchase). How long do they take to get as big as the ones you all speak of? They appear to be the reddish/pinkish colored type.

  • west_texas_peg
    9 years ago

    I have grown oleanders for many years in zone 7b...have white, red, and pink. A really cold Winter will kill them back but I trim back and before long they are just as tall as the previous years. Great plant.

  • TonyDe
    9 years ago

    This thread is very interesting to me. I have an oleander that is minimum 40 years old.

    I live in the northwest corner of IL. My wife says zone 5...4. We inherited this plant that is now in about a 5 gallon pot.

    Came from my mother who got it from my grandmother who came from Italy. I don't know where she got the plant.

    It is beautiful...about 6' tall and 2-3' wide. My wife brings it in every fall before freezing and leaves it by a sunny window.

    She has pruned it and given it plant food on occasion. She is going to replant it in a bigger pot soon...says it is root bound.

    I am interested in how old these plants can live to. The leaves have been used as alternative medicine to alleviate cancer and various other terminal illnesses.

    Any other info would be appreciated.


  • mickeyperreaud
    8 years ago

    Oleander can live for 100's of years. Many early settlers brought small plants or cutting with them when they came to the new world.
    The very old type of oleander seem to be the hardiest ones but sadly many have been lost because of WW1 and WW2. A friend just discovered one several years ago at a neighbors house. It was in a pot like yours. He had gotten a cutting from a relative. No one was able to fine out what oleander it was so he got to name it Firestarter. It is now for sale all over Europe and traded by collectors here.
    Do you know the name of your plant? If it is one I don't have I would love to buy a few cuttings from you.

  • whatsup
    8 years ago

    If oleanders are what you people say they are, we should plant them along the Mexico-USA border. We can eliminate the Border Patrol in that area. I have six that I have had for 6 or 7 years and have no problem other than leaves falling but they look rather good against a deep
    green St. Augustine

  • Bloomers-66
    8 years ago

    Whatsup, I like your Border Patrol idea. Might work if planted thick enough ;o). I'm new to any kind of forum so hope I get a response. I've just purchased 5 red oleanders to plant along property line after neighbors had to cut all trees down. Sounds like the perfect spot for these oleanders as they'll get plenty of sunshine. I purchased these from a nurseryman roadside but did not get the variety name. Should I want to get more of these, I'd like to find out what variety I have. Do I have any hope should the nurseryman be unavailable or of no use information-wise?

  • Bloomers-66
    8 years ago

    Whatsup, I like your Border Patrol idea. Might work if planted thick enough ;o). I'm new to any kind of forum so hope I get a response. I've just purchased 5 red oleanders to plant along property line after neighbors had to cut all trees down. Sounds like the perfect spot for these oleanders as they'll get plenty of sunshine. I purchased these from a nurseryman roadside but did not get the variety name. Should I want to get more of these, I'd like to find out what variety I have. Do I have any hope should the nurseryman be unavailable or of no use information-wise?

  • dzejna
    7 years ago

    I am growing Oleanders since 2000 and I dunno, I heard of all the horror stories with invading sewers etc. They might be true, I just did not have any trouble yet and I have two very large oleanders at the front of the house and two dividing my lot from the neighbor's. They are extremely beautiful, hardy plants, resistant to most pest and all I do is prune them back halfway once blooms are done. They basically bloom from May to late summer here. Can be pruned earlier if they overgrow the boundaries. I like them, really, they are very pretty and I don't plan on eating any of the plant to poison myself. Yet. :D

  • Patrice Bender
    6 years ago

    I planted an Oleander hedge (about 20 plants) in my backyard near the house. I have had them for about 6 years and now they are about 4 feet tall and quite beautiful when they bloom. Lately, I have been getting bumps (like hives) all over my body and then they turn into small craters with scabs. They itch--especially at night. I just wondered if it could be an allergy to the Oleander. I have not touched them and do not spend lots of time in my backyard but perhaps they release their oil into the air. Has anyone experienced this?? I would hate to cut them all down and then find that they were not the culprit.

  • TxMarti
    6 years ago

    Normally I don't post on old threads, but this thread reminded me of a funny story about oleanders and I thought I'd link it. A tale of two plants

    Patricemb1, are you touching the oleander and then noticing these bumps? I hate to say it, but your symptoms sound a lot like bug bites. Are the bumps around areas where clothes are tight, like top of socks, waistband, etc? If so, check out chiggars. Those itch like crazy. Could be bed bugs, especially if you notice the bumps the next morning. I've heard they form big welts that itch and then scab over. And of course there are mosquito bites, but you'd probably know if you had a lot of mosquitos, unless they are biting at night.

  • gstsstegall
    6 years ago

    Can oleanders be staked. The wind and hard rain beats them to the ground. They are one year old.

  • jamesup68
    5 years ago

    I am surprised that no comments have been made about oleander leaf scorch disease. This condition Is prevalent in So. California and has no cure or effective treatment. It is spread by the insect, glassy-winged sharpshooter. Plants will die 3 to 5 years after developing the disease. I live in Los Angeles and have had oleanders planted for 70 years; however, beginning a few years ago, they began developing oleander leaf scorch disease. The disease has gradually spread and has caused unsightly yellowing and wilting of the leaves and branches. I have replaced some of them with fichus bushes, which appear well. Eventually, all of the oleanders I have will die and need to be replaced, although I don't expect to live that long. My urgent advice is that if you live in So. CA, don't plant oleanders. I doubt that you will find nurseries in the area that continue to sell them anyway.

  • keithsue07
    5 years ago

    I live in Sydney ., Australia .Oleanders are wonderful very large shrubs .- trees .

    I love the double rose pink variety and the white .

    They flower most all year in Sydney Australia and are perfumed .

    We had them halfway in the middle of a very very large backyard .

    They are really beautiful .

    Poisonous if eaten .





  • dee195130
    4 years ago

    I knew these plants were tough by so many having survived "Katrina" almost 10 yrs. ago, but to be able to live in Australia, too is exciting. I love them, too. Wish I had acres for all I love!

  • Patti Sano
    3 years ago

    Oleanders are poisonous, so I don't like them, and take them out, especially if on a rental property. They have killed people before literally. Look it up. Sorry if this info was already posted. There are too many posts, and I didn't read the whole thread. They may be drought tolerant, but so are a lot of other plants.

  • momdenise
    3 years ago

    I live in California. Has anyone received complaints from neighbors that the Pink Flowers stain cement. My neighbor is complaining that the dropped flowers are ruining their cement tiles and their outdoor furniture. Also complaining about a bee infestation due to the oleanders. Any advice?

  • Patti Sano
    3 years ago

    I personally don't like oleanders because they are poisonous. Maybe that's the cause of the bumps. In one famous case, branches were used to BBQ some meat on and poison (kill) a business associate of another person. Happened in Santa Barbara. The flowers have also poisoned children who not knowing better, ate them. I've always removed them, especially from rentals.

  • mammyboop
    12 months ago

    Replying to Bloomers-66 seven years later! Oleander roots quite easily in water! Just cut off a stem at an angle and put in a vase or cup of water. Rooting hormone can be added but not necessary. Takes 3 to 5 weeks before you will start seeing roots, but just make sure they have water and it will happen.

  • Jinx
    12 months ago
    last modified: 12 months ago

    This thread was at the top, and the date stood out. I had no idea Houzz has been around since 1970. 😂