Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Oleander (Nerium oleander) is a tough drought-tolerant plant native to the eastern Mediterranean region. It can be seen in Jordan growing naturally in dry wadi-beds, where it can find underground water at the beginning of summer. It yields a profusion of terminal flower clusters from June to October, with colors ranging from white to pink, crimson, and light yellow.
Oleander grows to a height of 3.0m, with a spread of 3.0m. It is moderate growing, taking one to two years to reach its mature size.
Requirements: Grows in full sun. Can tolerate poor drainage and relatively saline soil.
Water usage: Low watering (once a month).
Appearance: The Oleander grows naturally into a multi-stemmed bush, but easily can be trained into a small tree. It has stiff stems covered with lance-shaped, leathery, dark green leaves that are 10 – 25cm long. The attractive flower heads, are 5 – 7.5cm wide, and appear in terminal clusters.
Notes on use: Can be used as a shrub or groundcover; makes an excellent screen at the edge of properties. The Oleander also can be grown in containers.
Propagation: Propagates easily by rooted cuttings.
Maintenance: Trim the tips of the stems after the flowers have died. To control size and form, prune annually in spring, cutting old wood to the base and lightly pruning the remaining branches. To train Oleander into a small tree, leave only a few stems, and pull up (do not cut) the suckers at the base of the plant.
Notes: All parts of the Oleander are poisonous. Make sure to warn children not to handle it. Take care not to inhale the smoke if burning its leaves or branches, as it also is toxic.
This article is part of a series of articles prepared by the Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) on water conserving landscapes.
For additional information on water conserving gardens, visit the CSBE web site at www.csbe.org
Support for the CSBE project on water conserving landscapes is provided by WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action), a program being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).