This easy guide shows how to prune oleander bushes to promote more flowers and maintain a pleasing shape. Oleanders are hardy bushes that are drought tolerant and produce masses of beautiful flowers through the warmer months.
Oleanders grow to 6.6 to 19.7 feet (2 to 6m) tall with long arching branches. The flowers form in clusters on the end of the branches in whites, pinks and reds. The leaves resemble olive leaves although they are not related.
They can be grown in both Mediterranean and subtropical climates being able to tolerate periods of dry and water inundation. They do not do as well in colder regions.
Choose a sunny spot in the garden for your new oleander plant. They make a stunning display along a driveway and it is fun to collect the many different colours available.
They can be grown in hot areas of your garden and will help to shade the western side of your home without the worry of leaves in your gutters. Improve poor soils with compost to give the plant a good start and improve drainage.
Nerium oleander is one of the most poisonous garden plants and should not be planted where livestock have access to the plant.
Pruning oleanders is an easy winter chore. You really can’t go wrong with this bush; however, pruning should be done during early to mid-winter so the new flower buds are not pruned off preventing spring flowering.
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Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to Prune Oleander Bushes
- Assess Your Oleander
First stand back from your bush then decide how far back you would like to prune it. You may want to prune it back more severely if it is growing over a path or if it is looking leggy. To increase the overall size of the bush you may only want to give it a light prune to encourage new growth.
- Cut Back Larger Branches
Cut larger branches with loppers above a node on the branch and at an angle so water will run off the cut. This will prevent disease. Usually two new branches will form from the node below the cut which will make the oleander look healthy and bushy.
- Prune Smaller Branches
Cut smaller branches back with the pruners again above a node. The aim is to create a pleasing shape without straggly branches sticking out from the side.
- Remove Dead Wood
While you are cutting back the branches look for any dead wood then cut out as close to the base as possible.
- Remove Old Flower Pods
Old flower pods can be trimmed back however it isn’t necessary. You will find new growth around these pods. They will eventually dry up and drop off.
- Assess and Finish
Stand back and assess your bush one last time. Once you are happy with the shape and size pick up your cuttings and branches.
Oleanders can be composted as long as they completely decompose in your pile. The toxin will hang around for 50 days so keep that in mind. If you are concerned, it would be best to let the branches and leaves dry out then use as mulch around ornamental plants.
Oleander leaves will turn yellow if the plant is stressed from either too much water or not enough. Even though oleanders will live through droughts they will need regular watering to maintain healthy leaves and blooms. Oleanders planted in poor soils will also benefit from a slow release fertiliser.
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